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Sokwanele - Enough is Enough - Zimbabwe

Roy Bennett released
Sokwanele Report : 28 June 2005

To the delight of the tens of thousands of Zimbabweans and huge numbers of supporters around the world who have been waiting for this day, Roy Bennett was today released from prison in Harare. Zimbabwe’s most famous prisoner of conscience and icon of the struggle for freedom and democracy, walked free from the regime’s notorious Chikurubi high security prison, which in recent years has come to represent the brutal face of Mugabe’s fascist tyranny.

There were emotional scenes when Bennett was reunited with his wife, Heather, outside the Chikurubi Prison. The reunion was a low key event deliberately because no one had known for sure that the regime would comply with even the most rudimentary standards of justice by observing the convention of remitting one third of the sentence for good behaviour. When they saw him, family and friends immediately commented on how thin the once burly Bennett now was – 27 kgs (4.25 Stone) lighter than when he was committed to one of Mugabe’s hell-hole prisons.

Roy Bennett was elected as Member of Parliament for the Chimanimani constituency in the 2000 Parliamentary Elections, representing the then fledgling Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). He subsequently suffered all manner of harassment, intimidation and outright persecution (see our article on the Sokwanele website, 'Supreme Court Challenge' : 25 May 2005) at the hands of ZANU PF, culminating in his committal to prison on October 28 2004 by a clearly partisan and indeed vengeful group of Members of Parliament. In proceedings which were constitutionally irregular and clearly subject to political bias, ZANU PF used their Parliamentary majority to have Bennett sentenced to imprisonment with hard labour for 15 months, with 3 months suspended. The sentence was manifestly excessive and disproportionate in any event to the “offence” which occurred in May 2004 when Bennett responded to verbal abuse from the Attorney General Patrick Chinamasa by pushing him to the floor of the House. Bennett’s lawyers subsequently made several unsuccessful bids to have the sentence set aside, most recently on May 26 when the matter was argued before the Supreme Court. On that occasion, despite the urgency of the appeal and a concession by the Attorney General (later retracted) that the sentence was disproportionate, the Chief Justice reserved judgment – effectively denying Bennett his constitutional right to a speedy disposition of his case.

Bennett was again selected as the MDC candidate for the Chimanimani constituency for the general election in March 2005. However the regime effectively blocked him from contesting the seat by bringing heavy pressure to bear on the judiciary following a decision in his favour by an electoral court. Mugabe himself declared that the decision of the electoral court was “unacceptable”, and a higher court subsequently over-ruled that decision. His wife, Heather, stood for the MDC and was defeated in a disputed electoral result.

Though much thinner and physically weaker than when last seen in public, Roy Bennett appears to have lost none of his fighting spirit. He is due to give a press conference later today.

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Zim Online

Mugabe thumps his fist in face of UN
Wed 29 June 2005

      HARARE - The Zimbabwe government yesterday pressed on with its urban
clean-up drive, demolishing more houses in Harare's Hatfield suburb as a
special United Nations (UN) envoy began collecting data on the impact of the
controversial exercise.

      Harare had announced just before the arrival last Sunday of UN chief,
Koffi Annan's envoy, Anna Tibaijuka, that it was winding up the demolition
campaign, saying this would be replaced by a "massive" reconstruction
exercise to provide houses for thousands of families cast onto the streets
when their homes were destroyed in the last four weeks.

      But police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena told ZimOnline yesterday that
the law enforcement agency was continuing with the demolition exercise in
mostly Harare suburbs, where thousands of residents have been forced by the
police to pull down their backyard cottages for non-compliance with city
planning by-laws.

      Bvudzijena said: "There are a number of areas that are still
outstanding and also we continue to receive information on illegal
structures that need our attention."

      More than 46 000 people mainly informal traders have been arrested in
the last month alone for selling basic goods without licence while close to
a million people have been made homeless after their backyard cottages and
shanty homes were destroyed by armed police and soldiers.

      President Robert Mugabe says the operation, which has also seen more
than 300 000 children forced to withdraw from school after they were evicted
together with their families, is necessary to stop crime and smash an
illegal black market for foreign currency and basic foodstuffs in short
supply in Zimbabwe.

      The clean-up operation was also needed in order to restore the beauty
of Zimbabwe's cities, according to Mugabe.

      But the UN, European Union, United States, Commonwealth, Zimbabwean
and international human rights groups have roundly condemned the clean-up
campaign as a gross violation of the rights of poor families.

      New Zealand Foreign Minister Phil Goff yesterday likened Harare's
urban clean-up drive to the depopulation of cities campaign of the genocidal
regime of Cambodia's Pol Pot.

      Annan dispatched Tibaijuka to Harare to assess how the world body
could intervene and mitigate a looming humanitarian disaster as thousands of
poor urban families were dumped in the open without food, clean water or
other sanitary facilities.

      The UN said in a statement that Tibaijuka, who is the head of
UN-Habitat, was yesterday planning with her eight-member team logistics of
trips to various parts of Zimbabwe where people have been evicted or dumped.

      "The technical team is working with the United Nations country team,
local stakeholders and civil society to design a mechanism to compile as
comprehensive a picture as possible in a short time frame of those who have
been evicted and the informal traders whose livelihoods have been affected,"
the UN statement read in part.

      Tibaijuka, who will meet the opposition, civic groups and other key
stakeholders, is also scheduled to meet Mugabe. But she had not yet done so
by yesterday.

      Meanwhile, reports received late last night suggested the government
was hurriedly moving families dumped at Caledonia farm just outside Harare
to unknown destinations but most probably to their rural home districts.

      Caledonia presented one of the most vivid illustrations of the
suffering brought on poor families by the government's urban clean-up
campaign. Several hundreds of families stayed in the open at the farm
without toilets or water.

      The situation only improved slightly about two weeks ago after the
government allowed non-governmental organsiations to supply mobile toilets
and water tanks at the camp. It had previuously refused them permission to
do so.

      Insiders said the removal of the families from the farm was meant to
ensure that by the time Tibaijuka visits the place, it will either be
deserted or less congested. - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

Zimbabwe purges remaining white farmers
Wed 29 June 2005
  HARARE - Zimbabwe has quietly continued evicting the few remaining white
farmers several months after announcing it had completed its farm seizure
programme and would now focus on rebuilding the crippled agricultural

      Farming leaders told ZimOnline that about five farmers were being
thrown off their land each month while world attention was drawn to
President Robert Mugabe's controversial urban clean-up campaign.

      President of the largely white-membership Commercial Farmers Union
(CFU), Douglas Taylor Freeme, said: "Farm evictions are still continuing as
recent as yesterday. On average, five farmers are being evicted every month
contrary to reports that some white commercial farmers are being returned to
their farms."

      The CFU boss said farmers were being ordered to vacate their
properties without even the benefit of the short 90-day notices prescribed
by the government's Land Acquisition Act.

      Intelligence Minister Didymus Mutasa, who oversees land reform, could
not be reached for comment on the matter.

      Several senior government leaders including Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
governor Gideon Gono - a close Mugabe confidante - have since the government
wrapped up a landslide victory in last March's disputed election hinted that
some white farmers could be recalled to their properties particularly in the
key foreign currency earning tobacco sector.

      Food production has plummeted by 60 percent since the farm evictions
began five years ago and only food handouts from international relief
agencies have saved Zimbabwe from famine. Zimbabwe requires 1.2 million
tonnes of food aid between now and the next harvest around March/April 2006
or about a quarter of the country's 12 million people could starve.

      Mugabe blames erratic rains and economic sabotage by western
governments opposed to his farm seizures for crippling Zimbabwe's mainstay
agricultural sector and economy.

      But critics say failure by Mugabe to supply black peasant families
resettled on former white farms with skills training, financial resources
and other inputs is largely to blame for the massive drop in food

      Freeme said ongoing evictions were disrupting the winter wheat
programme and Zimbabwe could face yet another wheat shortage next year.

      Before the farm seizures, Zimbabwe used to produce virtually all its
wheat requirement only importing a small quantity for blending purposes but
the country now almost entirely depends on imports.

      Zimbabwe is grappling its worst economic crisis in years with
shortages of hard cash, fuel, and food. Inflation stands at 144.4 percent
and is rising while unemployment is pegged at over 70 percent after hundreds
of companies closed down because of the worsening economic climate.

      Thousands others, who had gone into informal trading that contributed
a third of the country's Gross Domestic Product, have in one single swoop
lost critical income after their businesses were closed by the police under
the ongoing urban clean-up campaign. - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

Montreal's 'man of infamy'
Wed 29 June 2005
  By Brian Hutchinson and Graeme Hamilton

      MONTREAL - Ari Ben-Menashe is back in business. A former spy and
international arms dealer, the Montreal resident recently tried to
incriminate Zimbabwe's opposition leader in an alleged presidential
assassination plot.

      Now the self-described "man of infamy" is using a Canadian government
web site to promote his latest venture. Mr. Ben-Menashe is chief operating
officer of Albury Grain Sales, a commodities brokerage that was registered
last year in Montreal.

      The company has obtained a free listing on Industry Canada's
"Strategis" web site, which helps "buyers and sellers connect." While the
Industry Canada listing contains unverified information about Albury, it
offers no insight into Mr. Ben-Menashe's controversial past.

      For decades, he has raised eyebrows with unsubstantiated tales of
international intrigue and political subterfuge; his business dealings,
meanwhile, have led to bitter accusations and lawsuits.

      Alexander Vassiliev just had his own experience with Mr. Ben-Menashe.
"I e-mailed him in April, and that's how it all started," says Mr.
Vassiliev, vice-president of Sonox International Inc., a Florida-based food
export company.

      "Now we're in the hole, big time." Mr. Vassiliev says that Albury
agreed to arrange a US$33.6-million shipment of soybeans to a Sonox partner
in Uzbekistan.

      Mr. Ben-Menashe maintains that Sonox "defaulted" on its contract with
his company. Whatever the truth, the soybeans never materialized, and Mr.
Vassiliev wants his US$336,000 deposit returned.

      "I wish I had known about this person and the things he is supposed to
have done," says Mr. Vassiliev. "It looks like we are one of the latest

      Born in Iraq and educated in Israel, Mr. Ben-Menashe's life story
could have been torn from the pages of a paperback thriller.

      Fired from Israel's intelligence service in 1987, he claims to have
spent the next two years as a secret advisor to Yitzhak Shamir, then
Israel's prime minister and to have sold Israeli airplanes to Iran. Israeli
officials have consistently denied the account. Mr. Ben-Menashe says he
arranged the transfer of an $8.5-million "donation" from Israel to a major
Australian political party.

      It was payment, he said, for illicit arms trading. In 1993, after
Israel refused to renew his passport, and his application to settle in
Australia was denied, he married a Canadian woman and moved to Montreal's
affluent Westmount district.

      He made more headlines three years ago after taking a lucrative
"advisory" position with Zimbabwe's President, Robert Mugabe. Mr.
Ben-Menashe claimed that Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of Zimbabwe's Movement
for Democratic Change party, soon approached him, asking for help in a bid
to "eliminate" the President.

      To bolster his astonishing claim, Mr. Ben-Menashe produced a grainy
videotape of meetings he held with Mr. Tsvangirai in London and Montreal,
where the alleged assassination talks took place. The tapes were handed over
to Zimbabwean authorities.

      Most international observers believed Mr. Tsvangirai had been framed;
nevertheless, he was charged in Zimbabwe with treason, a crime punishable by
execution, and went to trial in 2003. Mr. Ben-Menashe was the prosecution's
star witness.

      He caused a sensation inside the Harare courtroom, where he angrily
clashed with defence lawyers. Judge Paddington Garwe described Mr.
Ben-Menashe as a "rude, unreliable and contemptuous" witness.

      In his judgment last autumn, Judge Garwe found that "nowhere" in the
Ben-Menashe videotape was there "a direct request made by the accused ... to
assassinate the President." Mr. Tsvangirai was acquitted.

      Back in Canada, Mr. Ben-Menashe faced other difficulties. Police in
Montreal arrested him in 2002 and charged him with assault, following
complaints from his wife and mother-in-law.

      He was eventually acquitted, but subsequent divorce proceedings have
been acrimonious. His business affairs unravelled. A private company he
founded in Montreal was put into bankruptcy after being sued by at least 10
different parties in several developing-world countries.

      Carlington Sales Canada Corporation was accused of pocketing large
payments for shipments of grain and other foodstuffs that allegedly never
materialized. According to statements of claim and affidavits filed in
Quebec court, Carlington required customers to provide 10% deposits, ahead
of shipments.

      The deposits were to be held in trust. It was alleged the money was
instead split among Carlington employees, including Mr. Ben-Menashe. Most of
the lawsuits were eventually settled out of court.

      But Mr. Ben-Menashe's American partner, Alexander Legault, was ordered
deported, thanks to unrelated fraud charges he faced in the United States.

      Among other things, Mr. Legault is alleged to have participated in an
illegal investment scheme in Florida that bilked US$8-million from 300
individuals. In May, 2003, he failed to present himself at Montreal's
airport for his scheduled deportation.

      An arrest warrant was issued; according to the Canada Border Services
Agency, Mr. Legault remains at large.

      Sonox vice-president Alexander Vassiliev knew none of this when he
approached Mr. Ben-Menashe two months ago. They met at Mr. Ben-Menashe's
downtown Montreal office and negotiated a contract, which they signed later
in Riga, Latvia.

      Albury Grain Sales undertook to ship 12,000 tonnes of soybeans from
North America to Sonox's own agents in Uzbekistan. Sonox wired US$336,000 to
Mr. Ben-Menashe's company. Mr. Vassiliev says the money was contractually
required by Albury, and was to be held as a deposit until the soybeans were

      "The tone changed once we wired the deposit," says Mr. Vassiliev, from
his office in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. "We got suspicious. Everything was always
going to happen 'tomorrow.'

      But Ben-Menashe couldn't tell me where the soybeans were loading, what
the ship's name was, things like that. Something was terribly wrong." Mr.
Vassiliev says that before signing his contract with Albury, background
checks were conducted on the company.

      But no one had thought to examine Mr. Ben-Menashe's past. Eventually,
Mr. Vassiliev ran his own computer search and came across a National Post
story from 2003 that laid bare Mr. Ben-Menashe's unsettling history.

      "I was stunned," Mr. Vassiliev says. Accusations levelled at
Carlington were particularly disturbing, he says. They closely resemble the
experience he claims to have had with Mr. Ben-Menashe's new company, Albury.

      Nonsense, declares Mr. Ben-Menashe, seated at a table inside a
Montreal coffee shop, not far from Albury's modest downtown headquarters.
Albury has conducted itself honourably, he insists. It was Sonox that failed
to follow terms of its US$33.6-million soybean contract.

      "We are the guys who are going to lose, not them," Mr. Ben-Menashe
says. "I really don't want to go into details." Carlington had "hundreds of
happy customers. Not hundreds, but we did quite a few deals. Tens and tens
and tens."

      The problem, he says, is that his reputation precedes him. "You don't
hear about the good stuff," he snaps.

      "You only hear about the bad stuff. Once the Zimbabwe thing started,
it all became open season. Anybody could say anything and it was alright
because [I was] vilified."

      Dressed in a grey pinstripe suit that doesn't hide a middle-aged
paunch, and sporting spiffy, red-frame spectacles, he does not look the part
of an international man of mystery.

      The 53-year-old has not worked for Mr. Mugabe "for over a year," he
says, owing to philosophical differences. "Things that were supposed to
happen after [Mr. Mugabe's promised] land reform didn't really happen."

      Mr. Ben-Menashe defends his role in the Tsvangirai affair, even if it
appeared a little unsavoury. "We didn't break the law, but we weren't
innocent bystanders, either. We do break eggs to make an omelette."

      He says he continues to act as a "political consultant," conducting
sensitive security work in the Middle East and Africa. This infuriates Mr.
Vassiliev. "I hate that Ben-Menashe is able to travel freely around the
world," he spits.

      "It seems like no one can stop him." Mr. Vassiliev says he will be
forced to sell his house in Florida if he cannot recoup the money he wired
to Albury Grain Sales.

      Mr. Ben-Menashe's company continues to maintain its listing on
Industry Canada's web site. The federal department "does not guarantee" the
accuracy of any information posted on its Strategis Web site, says Bob
Porter, Industry Canada's director-general of information management.

      "We assume no responsibility for it."

      >From the National Post (Canada) published:Sat 25-Jun-2005

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Hoping Against Hope: An Interview With Andrew Meldrum

News: An American journalist’s eyewitness view of Zimbabwe’s slide into crisis.

June 28, 2005

In 1980, Andrew Meldrum left his reporting job in southern California, sold his car, and packed his bags for Zimbabwe. The aspiring foreign correspondent was searching for that ever-elusive story: good news from sub-Saharan Africa. He was inspired by recent events in the southern African country formerly known as Rhodesia, which was moving from white minority rule to majority rule after nearly 15 years of civil war. It seemed like a promising place to spend a couple of years. “I found Zimbabwe to be a really exciting and positive place and I found that my work was growing as well,” recalls Meldrum, now 53. “So I just stayed and stayed and stayed.”

Meldrum eventually became the Zimbabwe correspondent for the British newspaper the Guardian. While he was enthralled by his new home, his enchantment with Zimbabwe’s new government quickly wore off. After a brief honeymoon, president Robert Mugabe revealed his true intentions to run Zimbabwe as an autocratic, single-party state. Disconcertingly, Mugabe started targeting his own citizens, starting with a scorched-earth campaign against the opposition in the early 1980s and continuing with recent campaigns to seize white-owned farms, ostracize gays and lesbians, intimidate voters, and silence the press. For ordinary Zimbabweans, the results of Mugabe’s tactics have been disastrous: In the past five years, the country’s GDP has dropped 40 percent, inflation has hit triple digits, the currency has crashed, and its once-thriving commercial farming sector has all but collapsed. In short, the country has gone from being known as southern Africa’s breadbasket to being a basket case. And just when things couldn’t get worse, the Zimbabwean government finds new ways to destabilize the country. In the past few weeks, it has driven 200,000 urban slum dwellers out of their homes, ostensibly to combat squatting and crime. Meldrum says Mugabe and his cronies are doing whatever they can to keep a grip on a tenuous situation: “They’ve run out of any new ideas of how to run the country.”

Meldrum has paid a price for such candor. For years, he had worked in relative freedom, but as Mugabe cracked down on dissent in the late ‘90s, it became increasingly risky to report on government repression. Meldrum’s unflinching stories prompted officials to label him a criminal and a traitor, and in early 2003 he was charged under a new draconian press law. He was acquitted and resolved to stay on, but soon afterward he was forcibly expelled from the country. Now based in Pretoria, South Africa, he continues to report on Zimbabwe for the Guardian. He also has written a new book, Where We Have Hope: A Memoir of Zimbabwe, an eyewitness account of his adopted country’s slide into crisis and despair. Though he can’t imagine when he might be let back into Zimbabwe, Meldrum hasn’t lost the optimism that drew him there 25 years ago. “I am honored to stand up for human rights, press freedom, and democracy,” he writes. “I know they will win in the end.” spoke with Andrew Meldrum by phone as he started his American book tour. It’s ironic that you went to Zimbabwe to write positive stories, seeing how the country has since gone from being so hopeful to fitting the into the script of authoritarian government, corruption, and so on.

Andrew Meldrum: It is ironic. What I wanted to show in the book is that it didn’t have to be that way. The situation in Zimbabwe is something that Americans can relate to because it’s not so different from us, in a way. The same issues that are in Zimbabwe—democracy, rule of law, freedom of the press—are here in the U.S. These are the democratic freedoms we have to guard vigilantly wherever we are. And if we don’t watch it, we too could lose them.

MJ: When Robert Mugabe first came to power, do you think it was his intention to remain committed to a fairly democratic Zimbabwe?

AM: It’s hard for me to know what his intentions were, but I don’t think his intentions were to ever give up power. [He had] a different view of democracy, a kind of Eastern European, one-party state kind of democracy, and he has remained true to that vision to this day.

MJ: In your book, Mugabe comes off as an enigmatic figure. He’s Catholic, a teetotaler who wears Saville Row suits; he’s also a fiery nationalist who’s seems oddly out of touch with his country. Do you have any more insight into what drives him?

AM: Power. He wants to hold power. Political power more than money power. He used violence to come to power, not only against the Rhodesian system but even within his own party. There were major challengers who died in car bombs and mysterious accidents. He used violence to come to power and as we have seen in the past few years, he is not afraid to use violence to stay in power.

MJ: Some of this background was known when he came into office. Can you pinpoint a time when people began to think, “We’ve rounded a corner here; things are getting worse.”?

AM: That’s easy. In 1982, Mugabe was challenged by Joshua Nkomo, the main opposition leader, who drew backing from the Ndebele people, a minority group making up 20 percent of the country’s population. Mugabe was outraged that they dared to pose a political challenge. There were some violent protests against the government and Mugabe responded with overwhelming force. He sent in an army brigade that had been specially trained by the North Koreans, and they swept through the Matabeleland countryside. Over 1983 and 1984 it’s estimated that 20,000, maybe even 30,000, rural Ndebele civilians were killed. At the time of the Matabeleland massacres, people began to say, “What is going on here?”

That was, for me, my first major challenge as a reporter. The government didn’t want us to report this, yet every time I would go down to Matabeleland I was flooded with these stories. The government denied this was happening and then they started to try and block us from going into Matabeleland to document these atrocities. I was conflicted over this issue. I could see that in three quarters of the country things were going well; people’s lives were improving. But in a quarter of the country people were suffering and going through a kind of war. It was very frustrating. It was the first time that I was confronted with a situation where I was not saying positive things about the government. I didn’t like that, but on the other hand, I felt that I had a responsibility as a journalist to report on these human rights abuses in the hope that it would hold the government accountable and bring them to an end. I believe that our international reporting helped Mugabe curtail those activities.

MJ: Ever since the Matabeleland massacres, there’s been a pattern of Mugabe singling out groups as scapegoats—first the Ndebele, then gays and lesbians, white farmers, journalists, the opposition. That seems like his standard M.O.

AM: He’s a divisive politician who thrives on pointing at outside groups and saying, “They are the cause of our problems.” Very rarely do you see him saying, “Let’s all group together and become part of the solution.” He did that briefly at independence, but the way he’s operated since then has been very divisive. I think part of it comes from his period as a guerilla leader. If you weren’t in the guerilla camp, why then, you were part of the enemy.

MJ: Yet you write that these attempts at scapegoating haven’t resonated with most Zimbabweans. You argue that the average Zimbabwean is more interested in unity than ethnic or racial divisions.

AM: That’s correct. I shy away from the word “unity,” because Mugabe uses that. His idea of unity is that everybody be a member of ZANU-PF [Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front, Zimbabwe’s ruling party] and everybody be told by the ZANU-PF central committee what to do and then they do it. That, for him, is national unity. My feeling is that most Zimbabweans will accept other people coming from a different ethnic group, having different sexual preferences. I think they also have a belief in order, the rule of law, in having things done the right way.

MJ: A few years ago, Mugabe mobilized so-called war veterans to seize white-owned farms. The move addressed calls for land redistribution, but at a huge economic price. Do you think it ultimately backfired?

AM: I don’t think it backfired, but I don’t think it worked. What he’s done with the land is further consolidated his power. And it’s not because he turned the land over to poor black Zimbabweans. He evicted the white farmers and turned over the land to his influential supporters—judges, army officers and other people he wants to keep happy. Most importantly, he has shown that he has the power to bestow people with land and even when they get the land, they are there at his behest. If he decides, he can have you thrown off. That’s what we’ve seen in the last year or so. People in several parts of the country who had been used to invade the land and started farming there have been moved off and then an army colonel or an air force commander moves in. What people have learned is not that the land is for them, but that ZANU-PF will control who has access to land.

MJ: It seems that there is going to be even more pressure on the land due to the current campaign to raze urban shantytowns. I recently heard an opposition politician say that she believes this move is a Pol Pot-type tactic of clearing people out of the cities and into the countryside where they are easier to control. Do you see it as having that effect?

AM: Absolutely. I hesitate using Pol Pot. Although we haven’t had the killing fields, when you tear down the homes of thousands of families, in winter weather, force people who are already in poverty to live in the open, it won’t be long before people start dying. The whole idea of reducing the population of the cities and sending them back to the rural areas where they are more easily manipulated is exactly what Mugabe is trying to do. However, what we can see here is one of these situations where Mugabe is trying to turn back the hands of time. Urbanization is a historical trend in Zimbabwe and Africa. Very few leaders can try to turn that around. He may well be overstretching himself.

MJ: Do you think Mugabe’s attitude is, “Well, if I’m going down, you’re going down with me?” Or is this just survival tactics?

AM: It’s “I’ll take what I want and you’re left with the crumbs. I don’t care how you survive; I’m going to stay in power. My party’s going to stay in power and we can do what we want with this country and its resources. But don’t question us.”

MJ: That brings us to the opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change. In response to the demolitions, it called for a nationwide strike, which appears to have failed. What’s the next move for the MDC?

AM: They have really responded ineffectively to the challenge of ZANU-PF and Mugabe. They have been completely ineffective. They lost the June 2000 parliamentary elections—narrowly; they lost the March 2002 presidential election; and then most recently, in March, they lost the parliamentary elections. They responded in just the past few weeks with outrage, saying these elections were stolen, that there was rigging, violence, intimidation. The most surprising thing is that the MDC did not have something in place to challenge that. They should have been planning that from 2002.

MJ: Can you describe the circumstances that led up to your deportation from the country?

AM: I felt it was my duty to report on human rights abuses, on torture, on rape, corruption, on the stealing of millions from state coffers. This brought me into conflict with the government, and I was arrested and thrown in jail for 48 hours. I eventually wrote a story that the government charged was not true. Then I was put on trial for two months, and in the end I was acquitted of those charges. So I continued carrying on my work. At the time, my friends told me, “Be very careful.” So the government abducted me, took me away and put a hood over my head, held me for 12 hours, and then forcibly put me on a plane. My lawyer had court orders saying it was completely legal for me to stay in the country. But [government officials] said flat out, “We don’t care about these court orders. We know what we’re doing.”

MJ: Do you think that being a white American afforded you some degree of protection?

AM: I do think it afforded me some degree of protection. I wasn’t beaten to a bloody pulp and I wasn’t tortured, which has happened to Zimbabwean journalists. I don’t think that a lot of people thought of me as a white American journalist; they thought of me as a fixture on the scene in Zimbabwe. If I had felt that the average Zimbabwean felt that I was an “enemy of the people,” as the Mugabe government had said, then I would have thought, “Well it’s time for me to go.”

MJ: Was it hard to separate your professional role as a journalist from what was happening to you? After all, you were being attacked by some of the very people you were trying to write about.

AM: I became the focus of the story, but I never took it personally. I tried to use what was happening to me to illustrate that this was happening to other Zimbabwean journalists and to ordinary Zimbabweans. A lot of American journalists think there’s two sides to every story and you give 50 percent to one and 50 percent to the other: “The government says this, the opposition says that, that’s the end of the story, you be the judge.” I don’t think if you’re reporting on human rights abuses you have to spend 50 percent of your story saying what the government says about the situation. I don’t think that that kind of reporting is giving the reader the benefit of your knowledge of a country. I think the reader wants to know what is really going on.

Dave Gilson is Mother Jones' Research Editor.

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Eyewitness to the Zimbabwean war on the poor which has torn apart the lives of so many

Mugabe’s police on the rampage

Mugabe’s police on the rampage

by Briggs Bomba, Zimbabwean activist

THE government’s “clean up” campaign has left over a million people displaced, refugees in their own country. Around 300,000 kids have dropped out of school as a result of the displacements.

Over 22,000 poor people trying to survive on informal trading have been arrested by the police, with goods worth millions of dollars confiscated or destroyed.

In the township of Mabvuku I witnessed the havoc. First came riot police in trucks, singing and drumming as if they were psyching themselves up for war with some alien invaders. The next day the cops came in their hundreds.

Police senior assistant commissioner Edmore Veterai spoke to over 2,000 of his officers before dispatching them into action following some resistance in the ghettos. He said, “Why are you letting the people toss you around?

“From tomorrow, I need reports on my desk saying that we have shot people. The president has given his full support. You should treat this operation like war.”

After the police left the township, the scene was like a funeral.

Arms folded, people stood looking at the rubble that once had been their dwellings as they tried to comprehend what would drive a government to turn against its people with such violence.

Many did not know where to sleep that night. Parents were at a loss on what to say to their children. Many of these houses, now ruins, had stood for over two decades.

Late into the night one could still see women with kids strapped on their backs behind carts carrying the little they could scavenge out of the rubble. Many just lit fires to warm their kids and slept in the open.

When I got to my brothers’ house, a family had huddled onto his verandah with all they could pick up from the rubble. Husband, wife and kids, they were all there.

Inside, a neighbour’s kids were sleeping. Their house had been destroyed while the mother was away at a funeral, leaving the kids stranded on their own in the middle of a rainy winter night.

In Tafara township a child died when a wall fell on her. In Gweru a man committed suicide from the stress and desperation of the situation.

At the Fife Avenue shopping centre vendors come out to their old places in the night. Against all odds they try to sell something.

They have no choice. They have families to feed. Their kids have to go to school. They must pay rent. It’s their only means of survival.

When I was arrested on the eve of last week’s protests against Mugabe, the cops picked up a vendor on the way to the police station. They took us to one of the police internal security intelligence torture rooms. They made the vendor lie down on the floor and beat him mercilessly with a wooden plank.

After beating the poor guy senseless they told him to go and pay a huge fine.

On the streets the same war on the homeless poor is raging on. The cops are rounding up beggars, the mentally ill and all those who have been living on the streets. These people are dumped onto farms such as Caledonia where they are practically prisoners. People live under 24-hour police guard.

One needs to be prepared for the horrible scene inside the camp. The mentally ill who were roaming the streets are tied onto trees to restrain them. There is no safe drinking water, people are drinking from the same water they use for bathing. People sleep in the open and use the bush for ablution.

People fear they will be used as cheap labour on state farms and those owned by ruling Zanu-PF chiefs.

This is the reality of Mugabe’s war on the poor.

© Copyright Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original and leave this notice in place.

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Envoy wants 'comprehensive' picture of Zimbabwe
Tue Jun 28, 2005 11:44 AM ET
By Stella Mapenzauswa

HARARE (Reuters) - A U.N. special envoy plans to compile a "comprehensive"
picture of Zimbabwe's crackdown on illegal shantytowns which has left a
estimated 300,000 people homeless, the world body said on Tuesday.

Anna Tibaijuka, executive director of housing agency UN-HABITAT, has been in
Zimbabwe since Sunday on a mission during which she is expected to meet
President Robert Mugabe over the crackdown, widely condemned at home and

"The special envoy and her team have started the process of collecting
information about the population affected by the demolitions," the U.N.
office in Harare said in a statement.

"The technical team is working with the United Nations country team, local
stakeholders and civil society to design a mechanism to compile as
comprehensive a picture as possible."

Plans were under way for field visits which would enable Tibaijuka's team to
visit demolished neighborhoods and assess "the capacity of the government
and the humanitarian community to respond (to the crisis)," it added.

The statement did not say when Tibaikuja -- a special envoy of U.N.
Secretary General Kofi Annan - was likely to meet Mugabe and government
officials were not available for comment.

On Monday, Mugabe's government vowed to step up a new housing program to
benefit those left homeless, which aid agencies have pegged at over 300,000.
Zimbabwe's main opposition argues the figure is now over 1.5 million.

Western countries and organizations including Britain, the United States,
the Commonwealth and the European Union have criticized the operation, which
has caused the deaths of at least two children crushed in demolished houses.

On Tuesday neighboring South Africa's Anglican Archbishop Njongonkulu
Ndungane said he would lead a church and non-governmental delegation to
Zimbabwe next month to assess the impact of the demolitions, which officials
have said are now winding down.

"The assault on property, homes and the meager sources of income of the poor
and destitute in Harare and other major cities has impacted the lives of
over a million Zimbabweans," Ndungane said in a statement.

Mugabe's government has defended the police blitz, saying it is meant to
root out black market trade in scarce foreign currency and basic food
commodities -- which had thrived in shantytowns.

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I was stripped naked in prison, says Bennett
          June 28 2005 at 02:34PM

      By Stella Mapenzauswa

      Harare - A former Zimbabwe opposition legislator freed on Tuesday
after nine months in jail for assaulting a government minister described his
ordeal as "hell" and said inmates were beaten daily and kept barely clothed.

      "I feel very sad for those that are left behind there ... because I
should imagine if one gets to hell, that is what you experience," Bennett, a
shrunken version of his normally burly self, told reporters at a news
conference after his release.

      Parliament voted to jail Bennett, then a legislator for the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), last October after he hit Justice
Minister Patrick Chinamasa during debate on President Robert Mugabe's policy
of seizing white-owned farms to give to landless blacks.

      Bennett, a former farmer whose property had been confiscated, said at
the time his actions against Chinamasa followed provocation and verbal abuse
in parliament, which is dominated by Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party.

      Chinamasa had called Bennett's forefathers "thieves and murderers" and
said he deserved to lose his farm after benefiting from a British colonial
system that robbed blacks of their land.

      "I pushed him ... and for that I have spent eight months in jail under
the most inhumane conditions. If that is justice, then so be it, but I
certainly don't feel I deserved the sentence that I got," Bennett said.

      The former coffee farmer was released from prison four months early
under a system that allows lesser sentences for good behaviour.

      "This was worse than anything I've heard of, or could have thought, to
experience people being beaten on a daily basis, to hear their screams, to
see people hardly clothed," he said.

      Mugabe's government denies charges that inmates suffer abuse in its
prison systems.

      Bennett said he himself was stripped naked in front of guards and
later given a filthy prison uniform covered with human excrement upon his
initial admission into jail.

      Last month Bennett appealed to the Supreme Court against his
conviction and sentence, saying his case was conducted by a biased
parliament which discriminated against him because of his race and political
affiliation. The country's highest court had yet to make a ruling on the

      The MDC and several Western countries have criticised Zimbabwe's farm
seizures, which the ruling party says are necessary to redress the ownership
imbalances created by Britain's 1890's colonisation of the southern African

      Bennett was one of three whites elected into parliament on an
opposition ticket in 2000 parliamentary elections narrowly won by Zanu-PF.
The MDC made a near clean sweep of urban centres, but Bennett's own victory
was in a rural constituency traditionally the preserve of the ruling party.

      Bennett's wife, Heather, stood for the MDC on his behalf in this
year's general polls held on March 31, but lost the Chimanimani seat in
eastern Zimbabwe to her Zanu-PF opponent.

      Heather Bennett is among several MDC candidates who have launched
court challenges to their defeat at the polls, which the MDC says were
rigged. Zanu-PF denies the charge.

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Daily Mail, UK


Mr Blair's shame over Zimbabwe
16:10pm 28th June 2005

Anyone who doubts the human misery being inflicted by a mad dictator called
Mugabe on his people should look at the pictures in our newspaper today.
Little wonder that Tony Blair appeared shifty and uncomfortable when he was
challenged yesterday on the plight of the Zimbabwean asylum seekers facing
deportation to this loathsome regime.

It cannot be said too loudly and clearly that this Government has shamefully
washed its hands over the plight of this wretched country since Mugabe began
genocidal attacks on his own people.

Tony Blair, the man who took us to war in Afghanistan and Iraq (countries
that have nothing like the historic claims on Britain of Zimbabwe) has been
disgracefully silent on the horrors visited on the former Rhodesia by Mugabe
and his thugs.

This paper has repeatedly argued that, as the former colonial power, Great
Britain has an obligation to the people of Zimbabwe.

The Prime Minister's response to criticism yesterday was typically

At his press conference, he was unyielding. There was no question of halting
the deportations, he insisted, because that would compromise the
Government's crackdown on illegal asylum seekers.

It takes some brass neck to claim the shambles that has been the UK asylum
system would be compromised by a display of common humanity in this case.

If Mr Blair devoted one thousandth of the energy he expended on Iraq to
Zimbabwe then life there would be much happier.
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            CONSERVATIVES: UN must send food distribution observer mission
to Zimbabwe

            Shadow Foreign Secretary Liam Fox has set out what the UN must
do to help save the people of Zimbabwe from the tyrannical rule Mugabe.

            Speaking to Liam Fox said: "These crimes
against humanity cannot be allowed to continue. The Government must take
Zimbabwe to the UN Security Council at once. The UN must send a team of
observers to ensure that food is distributed to all Zimbabweans, not just
those who support Mugabe. It must freeze the assets of those who bankroll

            He went on: "We must ensure that those countries that are able
to make a difference do so. If they refuse to act the international
community will need to examine further options.
            "It is clear that words are not enough and that the British
Government must show some leadership and recognise the scale of the
humanitarian disaster that Mugabe has perpetrated."

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[Is this paranoia or what????????????????]

Anti-Zim Crusade Goes Chemical

The Herald (Harare)

June 28, 2005
Posted to the web June 28, 2005


FOR the past five years, the Southern African region has been gripped by
successive droughts with climatologists and meteorolgists starting to
question the possibilities of their naturalness.

While the Southern African Development Drought Monitoring Centre prediction
based on satellite measurements of sea temperatures including the El Nino
Southern Oscillation (ENSO) effect in August last year indicated that the
region would experience normal to above normal rainfall, the exact,
unexplainable opposite happened as very little rain fell.

The ENSO effect; a change in the usual sea surface temperature patterns that
in turn influence wind currents along the Equator causing droughts or heavy
rains across the world for many decades; has also greatly weakened the
adverse conditions that prevail to the puzzlement of weather experts.

It comes as no surprise, therefore, that speculation is pointing to the
prospect of the weather being doctored to induce drought conditions across
Southern Africa in a bid to arm-twist the region to capitulate to the whims
of the world's superpowers.

Those countries that submit to the caprices of the westerners automatically
receive the seal of approval as "democratic" nations which qualifies them to
get massive aid support and debt cancellation.

With Zimbabwe fast emerging as the possible epicentre of the furtive weather
modification programme that is meant to break its agricultural backbone; the
world could be entering a new phase of cyber imperialism.

The overt and covert machinations by Zimbabwe's former colonial ruler
Britain, which has declared its intentions to effect illegal regime change
in Harare, have given credence to the conspiracy theory.

The Government of Zimbabwe already stands accused of starving its own people
by implementing the land reform programme, an insinuation that presupposes
that without white commercial farmers, Zimbabweans are not capable of
feeding themselves.

Most of the new farmers who have been showered with inputs since the
agrarian reform programme began in 2000 have failed to harvest meaningful
yields due to sudden changes in weather patterns which weathermen have
blamed on nature.

However, the evidence on the ground suggests otherwise.

While it seems incredible to imagine that weather can be modified it has
been scientifically proven that weather conditions in selected localities
can be influenced through the same technology used in cloud seeding or
through even more sophisticated weather modification methods.

Investigations by The Herald have revealed that such technology exists and
there have been intense research in the last four decades into scientific
processes that include hygroscopic seeding techniques.

The techniques involve spraying the ionosphere (part of the atmosphere 400km
above ground) with agents that absorb water vapour, with the sole aim of
breaking up rain clouds or stop them from forming in the lower troposphere.

One Internet website called says that: "While most
weather-modification efforts rely on the existence of certain pre-existing
conditions, it may be possible to produce some weather effects artificially,
regardless of pre-existing conditions.

"For instance, virtual weather could be created by influencing the weather
information received by an end user. Their perception of parameter values or
images from global or local meteorological information systems would differ
from reality. This difference in perception would lead the end user to make
degraded operational decisions."

Through another scientifically proven technique called Nanotechnology,
simulated weather conditions can be created by designing "a cloud, or
several clouds, of microscopic computer particles (or nano-particles), all
communicating with each other and with a larger control system to
exclusively block optical sensors" or other surveillance gadgets such as

The website adds that: "One major advantage of using simulated weather to
achieve a desired effect is that unlike other approaches, it makes what are
otherwise the results of deliberate actions appear to be the consequences of
natural weather phenomena. In addition, it is potentially relatively
inexpensive to do."

Scientific research on Nanotechnology also indicates that the cost of
producing these nano-particles is almost equivalent to the price of a 2kg
pocket of potatoes.

For many years now, there has been growing suspicion that the US government
has been involved in a clandestine programme to perfect the art of dirty war
tactics similar to those Washington used in the 1960-1975 Vietnam War.

During that war it reportedly used a dangerous herbicide called "Agent
Orange" to defoliate huge tracts of forests to expose and demoralise the
Vietcong fighters hidden in the thick bushes.

The US government, which is notorious for playing Big Brother, constantly
experiments with all sorts of technologies with a view to consolidating its
self-proclaimed super power status.

The US has developed dangerous weapons and invariably refuses to ratify
treaties that ban their further development.

The US government, for example, refused to ratify several international
treaties that include the Kyoto Protocol aimed at reducing hydrocarbon
emissions into the atmosphere; the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)
which prohibits all explosive nuclear testing; Strategic Arms Reduction
Treaty (START); Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM); Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT); Chemical Weapons Treaty (CWT); and
Biological Weapons Convention (BWC).

The US has also been advancing technology on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
(UAVs), remote-controlled aircraft, that can pass through foreign air spaces
without being detected by most radar screens and it has been using them on
numerous foreign spy missions since the early 1950s.

International researchers say the US is well poised to further dominate the
world by 2025 through weather modification techniques and would effectively
use them to subdue all sovereign nations that dare defy it.

A US-based research organisation, the Institute for Energy and Environment
Research warns that international co-operation is needed "to avoid serious
climatic problems and their potentially devastating security implications.

"US' refusal to abide by common rules risks the safety of the US public
along with the rest of the world. The United States, a leading advocate of
the rule of law, should not set itself above the law on the international

News of the possibility that Southern Africa's weather is being artificially
modified comes some six months after the US government through its Famine
Early Warning System (FEWSNET) predicted hunger in Zimbabwe.

FEWSNET predicted in December last year that half of Zimbabweans would be
starving by March despite the fact that under normal circumstances there
would be plenty to eat from ripening fields during the month of March.

The prediction, which was the exact opposite of other forecasts, seems to
confirm that the conspiracy to remove the Zimbabwean Government has gone

On June 14 last year, British Prime Minister, Tony Blair openly admitted
that his Labour government and its western allies are; "working closely with
the MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) on measures to put pressure for
change on the (President) Mugabe regime, because there is no salvation for
the people of Zimbabwe until that regime is changed".

Assuming the airs of a demi-god the MDC leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai has on
several occasions since 2000 surprised many people, that includes his own
supporters, by gloating that the people of Zimbabwe would starve because
they allowed the Zimbabwe Government to implement its land reform programme.

"Mati mune nzara? Murikushaya chikafu? Muchashayisisa chaizvo chaizvo! (You
say you are starving, you do not have food, you are really going to be
without food)

Mugabe akakupromisayi bumper harvest asi acha-harvester drought. (President)
Mugabe is promising a bumper harvest but you will only harvest drought)."

These are just snippets of Tsvangirai's braggings.

Some now believe that a bumper harvest in the wake of the massive compulsory
land acquisition exercise would have automatically meant that the Zimbabwean
Government would have emerged much stronger.

The land reform programme resulted in thousands of black peasant farmers
being resettled on former white-held farms, a process that angered the
British and US governments.

The Sadc region should be wary, there is much more to the droughts than
meets the eye, even though the region does not have much oil - it is known
as the Persian Gulf of Minerals.
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      Zimbabwe's IMF future rocky after report - analysts

      Tue June 28, 2005 4:53 PM GMT+02:00
      By MacDonald Dzirutwe

      HARARE (Reuters) - An IMF report painting a gloomy economic outlook
for Zimbabwe is a fresh no confidence vote in the country's policies, and
further imperils the country's future in the fund, analysts said on Tuesday.

      In a statement on Monday, the International Monetary Fund said food
shortages and a widening fiscal deficit would make the economy contract
further this year and lead to higher inflation.

      The statement, issued before an executive board meeting on whether to
revoke Zimbabwe's fund membership, flew in the face of government forecasts
for economic growth of up to 2.5 percent this year.

      "When you get such an indictment from the IMF it shows they are losing
confidence in our capabilities to improve the economy," said James Jowa, a
Harare based economist.

      "I see the executive board taking a tougher decision, I do not think
they will spare us the axe this time round," he told Reuters. The government
was not immediately available for comment on the IMF report.

      Zimbabwe is about $306 million in arrears to the IMF, which has halted
lending to the southern African nation over policy differences with
President Robert Mugabe's government, and is considering expelling it from
its ranks.

      Critics blame Mugabe's government for ruining one of Africa's once
prosperous nations.

      The economy of the former British colony has shrunk by about a third
since 1999 and is battling critical shortages of foreign currency, a 70
percent jobless rate and triple-digit inflation.

      Analysts said the Zimbabwe government had little choice but to mend
ties with global lenders to reschedule its foreign arrears and ease biting
foreign exchange shortages that have seen the country suffer its worst fuel
crisis in years.

      Mugabe's government says it is strengthening ties with Asian and
Muslim countries although analysts said no benefits had yet accrued from the

      "It is now more than ever that we have to mend fences with the
international community because it's quite obvious we have to reschedule our
debt with IMF, World Bank and the Paris Club," said Anthony Hawkins,
business professor at the University of Zimbabwe.

      "We can look east as much as we like but it is not going to help us
repay our debt," he said.

      Zimbabwe's economic crisis is the worst since independence from
Britain in 1980, and Mugabe's latest crackdown on shanty towns and informal
traders has drawn world condemnation for leaving thousands homeless and
without income.

      Analysts said the government and the central bank were unlikely to
halt substantial producer and credit subsidies despite a warning by the IMF
that this would fuel money supply and inflation.

      The government has announced it will spend an unbudgeted 3 trillion
Zimbabwe dollars to construct new houses while exporters are receiving
credit at 5 percent from the central bank.

      "The government's policies are predicated on these very same policies
of cheap credit and to suddenly abandon this, the economic consequences will
be catastrophic I would think," Hawkins said.

      Jowa added: "The solution is a change in governance, if that side does
not change the situation will not change."

      The Zimbabwean government accuses local and foreign opponents of
sabotaging the southern African economy as punishment for seizing
white-owned farms to redistribute among blacks.

      Mugabe has defended the shantytown crackdown as necessary to reduce
crime and destroy havens of illegal trade in foreign currency, fuel and
scarce food commodities.

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Zim: SA 'doesn't know what's going on'

Tue, 28 Jun 2005
South Africa's high commission in Zimbabwe was too small and as a result was
unable to keep the South African government briefed on developments in the
country, said Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Aziz Pahad in Pretoria on

"Our mission has been reporting, but given the... smallness of our mission
we couldn't fully get an understanding of what is really going on," he said
during an international affairs and peace and security briefing.

'Bilateral' action

He said South Africa would wait for a United Nations report on the latest
alleged bout of human rights abuses committed by the Zimbabwean government
before taking "bilateral" action.

Pahad was responding to questions on the destruction of squatter camps by
the Zimbabwean government that has left tens of thousands homeless.

Admitting that 95 percent of information passing through Foreign Affairs
offices in Pretoria pertained to the instability in Zimbabwe, Pahad said
they had also read all the articles on the internet but would have to wait
for the United Nations report before taking a decision.

Zim crackdown

Zimbabwe police have for the past five weeks reportedly used bulldozers and
sledgehammers to demolish shacks and other unauthorised homes, destroy shop
stalls and market areas and detain tens of thousands of people in what the
government has described as a campaign to rid the country of squalor and

Amid mounting criticism from the United States and Britain, UN Secretary
General Kofi Annan appointed an envoy who arrived in Zimbabwe on Sunday to
assess the humanitarian impact of Operation Murambatsvina, which means
"Drive out Rubbish" and is linked Operation Restore Order.

UN envoy Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka held meetings with the head of UN agencies
in Harare and was expected to meet with President Robert Mugabe before
touring settlements that were razed during the campaign.

Govt understands concerns

Pahad said however his office was not left totally in the dark.

"We have come to understand what the concerns are or at least appreciate
what the people are all talking about, but we have not been able to move
successfully forward on this issue," he said.

Responding to questions of whether South Africa shared the views made by an
African Union spokesperson that the current situation in Zimbabwe was an
internal matter, Pahad said his office was trying to find the person
responsible for the statement.

"We are trying to ascertain the source of the comment by the AU's spokesman.
However, we welcome the visit to Zimbabwe by the UN Secretary-General's
special envoy and will await her report before we can take any decisions on
the matter," he said.

He said he looked forward to the UN's report that should be available within
a few days.


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Asylum returns immoral - Williams
Children sitting on the ground next to their belongings in Harare, Zimbabwe
Dr Williams wants African nations to put pressure on Mugabe
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams says he is "amazed" the policy of sending failed asylum seekers back to troubled Zimbabwe has not been halted.

Charles Clarke has rejected calls for a suspension of all removals - despite concerns about human rights abuses by President Robert Mugabe's regime.

The home secretary says each case would be treated individually on its merits.

But Dr Williams told BBC's Today programme: "I think it's deeply immoral to send people back there."

He was speaking as a report in The Times claimed immigration officers had been ordered to halt deportations to Zimbabwe - despite Tony Blair claiming on Monday that there would be no official suspension of forced removals.

I would still hope that other African nations will rally round on this and put the kind of pressure that is needed
Dr Rowan Williams
Archbishop of Canterbury

Dozens of Zimbabweans in detention centres across the UK have gone on hunger strike.

Conservative shadow home secretary David Davis called UK Zimbabwe policy a "miserable failure".

Dr Williams told Radio 4's Today programme the asylum system "isn't working" and called for the government's policy on Zimbabwe to be reviewed.

He also urged Zimbabwe's neighbours - particularly South Africa - to "rally round" and put pressure on the Mugabe regime.

Failing system?

The head of the Church of England said he had visited a number of detention centres where failed asylum seekers were being held pending deportation.

"You are often dealing with people who have been here for many years and have roots in the country and are suddenly, without warning, taken into the system," he said.

"I think there is a lot in the working of it which is deeply unsatisfactory at the moment, which feels inhuman to the people involved."

However, the home secretary has argued that not all Zimbabweans who claim asylum in the UK genuinely face persecution.

He said that of those who had been returned there had been "no substantiated reports of mistreatment".

On Monday Mr Blair argued that halting all deportations could send a signal around the world "that Britain is open for business" even for failed asylum seekers.

Downing Street reiterated that message on Tuesday, insisting there would be "no change in policy" over the deportation of failed asylum seekers to Zimbabwe.

Crimes against humanity?

The prime minister's spokesman said there had been clear abuse of the asylum system with people falsely claiming to come from Zimbabwe.

But Mr Davis said Robert Mugabe's regime was guilty of "crimes against humanity on a massive scale".

Shadow foreign secretary Liam Fox said he found it "bizarre" that the government had effectively held an amnesty for 250,000 economic migrants but was endeavouring to send back people who would be persecuted.

A ban on deportations to Zimbabwe, which had been in force for two years, was lifted last November.

During the first three months of this year 95 Zimbabweans were sent home.

Recent moves in Zimbabwe to demolish illegal buildings - which the UN says has left 275,000 people homeless - have drawn objections from the Foreign Office.

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Anglican delegation to visit Zimbabwe

June 28, 2005, 09:30

The assault on property, homes and meagre sources of income of the poor in
Zimbabwe has impacted the lives of over a million people, Njongonkulu
Ndungane, the Archbishop of Cape Town, said today. In response, Ndungane
will lead a pastoral visit to Harare on July 10 and 11.

The South African Council of Churches and the Southern African Catholic
Bishops Conference will be part of the delegation, Ndungane said in a

Paul Graham, executive director of the Institute for Democracy in SA and
Charles Villa-Vicencio, executive director of the Institute for Justice and
Reconciliation will accompany Ndungane.

Zimbabwean police have been carrying out a government endorsed demolition
campaign dubbed "Operation Restore Order" and "Operation Murambatsvina",
meaning "drive out the rubbish". The United Nations estimates that at least
200 000 people have lost their homes in the campaign. Zimbabwean opposition
says at least 1.5 million people have been left homeless by the campaign.

On Saturday, Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean president, was quoted by
international news agencies as saying that the operation was necessary "to
weed out hideouts of crime and grime, filthy stalls". - Sapa

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Zim Online

SA rejects calls to ban Zimbabwe from international cricket
Wed 29 June 2005
  HARARE - South African cricket authorities have rejected mounting calls
for neighbouring Zimbabwe to be banned from international cricket because of
gross human rights abuses by President Robert Mugabe's government.

      In a statement yesterday, Cricket South Africa (CSA) chief executive
Gerald Majola insisted that politics should be kept out of sport and said
the CSA would fulfill all fixtures against neighbouring Zimbabwe, plunged
into fresh crisis after Mugabe forcibly evicted thousands of poor families
and demolished their homes under a controversial urban clean-up campaign.

      "We view tours to and from Zimbabwe as cricketing matters, and we will
continue to meet our obligations to the ICC (International Cricket Council)
and the Zimbabwe Cricket Union in this regard. We have always been
consistent in this," Majola said.

      "I have just returned from a meeting of the ICC's chief executives,
and the matter of any possible suspension was not even raised. In fact, all
the countries, including New Zealand, who are due to tour Zimbabwe,
reaffirmed their commitments," he added.

      Majola spoke as New Zealand ratcheted up pressure for Zimbabwe's
banning with Foreign Minister Phil Goff announcing he was courting his
Australian and British counterparts to jointly lobby the ICC to bar Harare
from further participating in the international game.

      Goff, who likened Mugabe's mass eviction of urban families to
Cambodian dictator Pol Pot's depopulation of the cities campaign, said
Auckland might also prevent the Zimbabwe cricket team from visiting that

      Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer indicated he might join
New Zealand's "good idea" to have Zimbabwe banned from international cricket
while British Foreign secretary Jack Straw is reportedly also supportive of
the idea.

      Zimbabwe Cricket executives were reluctant to comment on the mounting
sanctions campaign, although the cricket body's chief executive officer,
Ozias Bvute, was last weekend quoted in the media as saying Goff's statement
calling for Zimbabwe's banning was "unfortunate".

      Mugabe's clean-up campaign which he says is necessary to fight crime
and filth and to restore the beauty of Zimbabwe's cities has cast close to a
million people onto the streets after their shanty homes in and around towns
were destroyed by armed police and soldiers.

      The United Nations, United States, European Union, Zimbabwean and
international church and human rights groups have roundly condemned the mass
evictions as a gross violation of poor people's rights.

      An envoy of UN chief Koffi Annan arrived in Zimbabwe this week to
assess how the world body could intervene and assist families left in the
open without food or clean water after the demolitions. - ZimOnline

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Number 10 Downing Street

Excerpt from:
Press Briefing: 1545 BST Tuesday 28 June 2005

Put to him that the expulsion of Zimbabwean's to Zimbabwe had been called
immoral by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the PMOS said that as we
had said this morning, we obviously understood that there were concerns
about individuals and the threat to them, which was precisely why in the 15
months to March this year, we granted asylum or discretionary leave at
initial decision to 270 Zimbabweans. Equally however it was a fact that in
the past people had applied, falsely claiming to be Zimbabweans. Therefore
what we needed to do was assess each case on the individual merits, and we
agreed that process with the MDC whenever we first applied it.

Asked if we would be reviewing our position in light of the recent outcry,
the PMOS said that our policy hadn't changed and it would not change. As we
did with every other country, we based it on the merits of the individual
case. There was no other country on which we had a blanket ban. Asked what
the response to Rowan Williams was, the PMOS said that he was entitled to
his view, but we had to deal with the facts. The facts were that where there
were genuine concerns we had shown that we were prepared to grant asylum.
Equally however the fact was that in the past people had abused the system
and we were not going to send out the signal that people could do that and
get away with it. Put to him that seemed like rough justice, the PMOS said
it no it was not. It was careful consideration of the facts.

Asked if the Prime Minister was worried that this issue might overshadow the
G8, the PMOS said that in terms of the G8, we had often made representations
to African countries about Zimbabwe. We would continue to do so. However
Zimbabwe was not Africa and it was only right that the experience of
Zimbabwe should only be dealt with on its own merits. What that shouldn't do
was overshadow the genuine progress that had been made in those countries
where there was real progress in terms of elections and in terms of
governance and where there were real needs which could and should be met in
a transparent and open way.

Asked if he was saying that if people came to this country, saying they were
from Zimbabwe, the Government is saying that some of them might not be from
Zimbabwe, and the Government didn't want to send the message that anyone who
came to the UK for asylum could claim to be from Zimbabwe as a way of
getting asylum, the PMOS said we assessed each case on its individual
merits. Asked why we were sending anybody back to Zimbabwe, the PMOS said
the cases were made on an individual assessment made by the Home Office.
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Zimbabwe's fuel crisis is affecting workers
          June 28 2005 at 03:49PM

      Harare - The Zimbabwe government, reeling under a crippling fuel
shortage, has relaxed its own rules to allow lorries and vans to carry
passengers, a state-controlled daily said on Tuesday.

      "Government yesterday gave the go-ahead to lorry owners and companies
with buses to provide transport to workers as it seeks a lasting solution to
the transport problems," said the Herald.

      The decision comes as the country faces what some experts say is the
worst fuel crisis ever that has almost brought the country to its knees.

      The majority of privately owned commuter buses have been off the road
for weeks because they have been unable to get gas. Only state-run buses
travel city routes but they are unable to meet demand.

       Commuters brave the cold winter weather, some getting up as early as
3am to begin standing in queues for the few buses or vans available. Others
walk to make it to work on time.

      Energy Minister Michael Nyambuya blames the shortages on the doubling
of international oil prices and a foreign exchange crunch in recent months.

      The southern African country is also importing food to off-set
shortages blamed on a drought and farmland reforms that have seen a drop in
agricultural production. - Sapa-AFP

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Cholera outbreak claims 14 lives

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

JOHANNESBURG, 28 Jun 2005 (IRIN) - At least 14 people have died and 203 have
been hospitalised in eastern Zimbabwe as authorities battle to control a
cholera outbreak that began in early May.

Zimbabwe has warned that it might not be able to control the disease without
cooperation from the government of Mozambique, where the outbreak is thought
to have originated.

In an interview with IRIN, Deputy Health Minister Edwin Muguti said
preliminary investigations suggested that the epidemic could have been
caused by the use of water from a heavily contaminated river that flowed
from Mozambique through three large communal areas in Zimbabwe.

"The disease is coming from Mozambique, which is why we need to cooperate
with them: fighting cholera on the Zimbabwean side would be futile if the
causes in Mozambique are not dealt with," Muguti told IRIN.

He said Mozambican communities were using the river for various domestic
purposes and dumping raw waste into it, while the Zimbabwean communities
downstream were using the water for consumption and cooking.

Muguti added that they had approached the Mozambican government and were in
the process of negotiating a control strategy to address the causes and
impact of the disease on both sides of the border.

He denied allegations by field staff that containment efforts were being
hampered by the shortage of basic medicines in Zimbabwe, saying the
government had adequate resources and would ensure that more were provided
to fight the disease.

Zimbabwe has battled to control a number of epidemics that have affected
people and livestock due to a shortage of medicine and human resources since

Besides the cholera oubreak, the department of veterinary services has also
been fighting an outbreak of anthrax among livestock in Masvingo,
Mashonaland West and Harare Metropolitan provinces. Three people who
allegedly ate meat from contaminated carcasses have been hospitalised.

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      Black Market Traders Take Advantage of Zimbabwe Fuel Shortage
      By Tendai Maphosa
      28 June 2005

Zimbabweans are paying exorbitant prices for fuel as the country's supply
hits an all time low. This has hit commuters hardest.

Zimbabweans pay about 40 cents for a liter of gasoline at the pump at the
official rate. But during the current shortage, the worst since 1999 when
the country's fuel supply became erratic, VOA has witnessed transactions
where gasoline exchanged hands for almost $3.00 and $4.00 a liter. A local
daily newspaper, The Daily Mirror, says some market dealers are charging
more than $7.00 per liter.

As a result of the current crippling shortage, government has allowed open
trucks to ferry commuters who are spending hours waiting for transport to
and from work. The transport minister has also appealed to employers to
provide their workers with transportation. But a factory owner who spoke to
VOA on condition of anonymity said as much as they would like to help to
maintain productivity, employers have to join the long lines at the few gas
stations receiving fuel like every one else.

A Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe official who does not want to be identified told
VOA that the current scarcity is caused by a shortage of foreign currency to
import fuel. He said that the government, in a bid to make things look
normal, used up most of the foreign currency for imports during the run-up
to the March 31 parliamentary elections. The ongoing shortage started a few
days after the election results were announced.

While the situation has forced many motorists to stop using their cars to
join the commuters the minibus operators who augment the almost non-existent
public transport system are demanding higher fares. They are charging more
than the government fixed fares saying they are getting their fuel at black
market prices.

The government has said the current high price of crude oil has worsened the
situation. The Reserve Bank official, however, said the government has so
far resisted an increase of the pump price because it would result in prices
of other commodities to rise, pushing up inflation. Zimbabwe's May inflation
rate rose to 144 percent from April's figure of 129 percent. The inflation
rate, which has been slowly falling, peaked at more than six hundred percent
in January 2004.

Landlocked Zimbabwe's fixed fuel price is the lowest in the southern African
region. In South Africa motorist are currently paying 77 cents per liter of
gasoline while in Mozambique the price is about $1.00.

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Protest over Zimbabwean detainees
Zimbabwe detainee protest outside Campsfield House
Protesters want the detainees to know they are not alone
Supporters of hunger-striking Zimbabwean asylum seekers threatened with deportation are protesting outside the centre where they are being held.

The 20 demonstrators gathered outside Campsfield House in Oxfordshire said the Zimbabweans' lives were at risk and they should be allowed to stay.

On Monday a Turkish man held there is thought to have taken his own life.

The government said not all Zimbabweans in the UK faced the threat of persecution if they were sent back.

We want the people inside to know we are here because it can be very isolating for them
Bob Hughes

Protesting outside the centre on Tuesday, Bob Hughes, of the Campaign to Close Campsfield, said: "We have heard the Zimbabweans inside are intensifying their hunger strike.

"I believe they are talking about stopping taking liquids as well as food, and there is some talk of sewing lips together."

The Home Office confirmed that among the five Zimbabweans being held at Campsfield House is anti-Mugabe activist Crispen Kulinji, who was granted a temporary reprieve at the weekend.

Mr Hughes added: "However tough Charles Clarke thinks he is, he will never break their will. He may kill them, or send them back somewhere to be killed, but he will not break them.

"We want the people inside to know we are here because it can be very isolating for them.

"The asylum process is a mockery. The government makes it more and more difficult for asylum seekers to gain asylum here. There is a presumption that they are all lying."

'Wrong signal'

Among those gathered at the site was Anicet Mayela, 32, a former economics student from the Republic of Congo.

The former resident of Campsfield House said: "I am here to support my friends. I have been inside here, and at Colnbrook."

Earlier on Tuesday the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said he was "amazed" the policy of returning failed asylum seekers to Zimbabwe was continuing.

On Monday Mr Blair argued that halting all deportations could send a signal around the world "that Britain is open for business" even for failed asylum seekers.

The prime minister's spokesman said there had been clear abuse of the asylum system with people falsely claiming to come from Zimbabwe.

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Clean-up operation continues in Bulawayo
      SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

      By Tichaona Sibanda
      28 June 2005

      Contrary to reports last week that government was winding down its
clean-up operation, police in riot gear were out in full force on Tuesday
demolishing houses in Bulawayo's Pumula suburb.

      Reports in the state media last week said government was ending it's
controversial exercise, after a month of mayhem that saw over a million
people being thrown onto the streets by a heartless regime.

      Themba Nkosi, our correspondent in Bulawayo said Pumula, one of the
oldest suburbs in the city, has up to a thousand shacks that house close to
5000 people.

      Themba said: 'As I speak to you right now, police are busy demolishing
the shacks. Some of the shacks have been there for over two decades."

      A number of churches in Bulawayo got together on Sunday night and
raised over $7 million that will be distributed to victims of the clean-up
operation in the city.

      An insider within the UN told our correspondent that they are
resisting attempts by government to block Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka from
visiting the worst affected areas of the city.

      'There are plans by government to control the movement of the UN
Secretary-General Koffi Annan's special representative during her tour of
the city, but unfortunately her itinerary has been drawn up by UN agency
staff who have seen disaster first hand,' said Nkosi.

      The UN special envoy, who jetted into Zimbabwe on Sunday, is expected
to visit Bulawayo this week to inspect the destruction caused by Robert
Mugabe's bulldozers.

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  Doubts over government's $3 trillion housing project
      SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

      By Tichaona Sibanda
      28 June 2005

      A political commentator Bekithemba Mhlanga has laughed at reports that
government will soon embark on a massive housing project to accommodate
people affected by the clean-up operation.

      'Anyone who believes that government can come up with such a project
will need to have his head examined, including Thabo Mbeki and all the other
African Presidents who support Robert Mugabe,' said Mhlanga.

      According to him the statement that government will build thousands of
houses before August is all lies.

      'From a logistical point of view, how can you build houses meant for a
million people in six weeks? Where does the money come from, I think this
questions the sincerity of the whole thing,'

      It will boil down to government printing more money to chase
non-existent goods like bricks and all other building materials that are
hard to find in Zimbabwe today.

      Mhlanga questioned why government sprang up with this 'noble idea' of
a housing project at a time when the UN special envoy Anna Tibaijuka was in
the country to assess the damage inflicted by Robert Mugabe's regime.

      'They should have announced this before the devastation at least it
may have carried some weight. But don't forget we are dealing with liars.'

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