Wed 15 March 2006
HARARE - United Nations (UN) officials in Zimbabwe on Tuesday said
plans for Secretary General Koffi Annan to visit the crisis-hit country were
still in place but said dates for such a trip were still to be confirmed by
both New York and Harare.
An official in the office of United Nations Development Programme
(UNDP) Harare representative Augustine Zacharius told ZimOnline that they
were looking forward to Annan's visit to Zimbabwe, adding that all necessary
planning had been done pending confirmation of final dates.
Annan is visiting South Africa as part of a four-nation tour of Africa
that omits Zimbabwe despite President Robert Mugabe inviting him last year
to visit the southern African country and assess for himself the situation
on the ground following UN envoy Anna Tibaijuka's damning report against
Harare's controversial clean-up exercise.
The UN Secretary General was at the time said to have accepted
Mugabe's invitation although subsequent reports suggested he would only
visit Zimbabwe on condition Harare fulfilled certain conditions that were
not made public.
The UNDP official in Harare said: "Mr Annan is not coming to Zimbabwe
this month as it is not part of his visit this time around.
"We are hoping that he will eventually come but the dates for the
Zimbabwe visit have not been confirmed by both New York and Harare. We look
forward to his eventual visit to Harare because all the planning has been
done since Mr Annan indicated he will take the invitation but this is not
within the current regional trip."
Zimbabwe Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi was not
available for comment while several senior officials at the ministry refused
to take questions on the matter.
Annan, an African himself, has shown an interest in helping resolve
Zimbabwe's six-year political and economic crisis that has reduced the once
promising African country into a basket case surviving on food handouts from
UN agencies and other donor groups.
But Mugabe and his government furiously rejected Tibaijuka's report
that said at least 700 000 Zimbabweans were left without shelter or means of
livelihood after the government demolished shantytowns and informal business
kiosks last year.
The UN report also says another 2.4 million Zimbabweans were affected
by the home demolition campaign that Mugabe defended as necessary to smash
crime and to restore the beauty of Zimbabwe's cities and towns.
When UN under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency
relief co-ordinator Jan Egelend backed Tibaijuka's report during a follow-up
visit to Zimbabwe, an angry Mugabe labelled him a liar and Harare said it
would not accept any more envoys from the world body but would only welcome
From South Africa, Annan will proceed to Madagascar for talks with
that country's President Marc Ravalomanana. He will then go to
Congo-Brazzaville to meet President Denis Sassou-Nguesso, the current
chairman of the 53-member African Union.
The UN Secretary General will complete his tour with a visit to the
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for talks with President Joseph
Kabila. - ZimOnline
Wed 15 March 2006
HARARE - The Zimbabwe government is hoping to resume ostrich and beef
exports to the lucrative European Union (EU) market before the end of the
year after successfully stamping out the foot and mouth disease.
Zimbabwe principal director of veterinary services, Dr Stuart
Hargreaves, told ZimOnline on Tuesday that the government had put in place
stringent measures to control the cattle disease.
"We have improved the foot and mouth rehabilitation centre as well as
fenced off the Gonarezhou National Park. All the birds with positive
anti-bodies were moved to one farm and we are convinced the disease would be
confined to one farm.
"We have to be in a position to show that there has not been a
circulation of the virus for three months . . . Before the end of the year,
we would have resumed exports," said Hargreaves.
The EU suspended beef imports from Zimbabwe in 2004 after an outbreak
of the deadly foot and mouth disease.
But Hargreaves said Zimbabwe had put in place adequate measures to
control the disease and hoped the EU would lift the suspension of beef
imports from the country. Zimbabwe is losing about US$38 million every year
in potential earnings from beef exports as a result of the ban, according to
But analysts warn that Zimbabwe would be hard-pressed to meet its EU
quota after war veterans and government supporters decimated the country's
national herd as a result of the government's chaotic land reforms.
Zimbabwe's national herd currently stands at 250 000 from the 1.4
million cattle before farm invasions six years ago. - ZimOnline
Wed 15 March 2006
MUTARE - Zimbabwe High Court Judge Charles Hungwe yesterday granted
bail to opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) politician Giles
Mutsekwa who is accused together with five others of plotting to kill
President Robert Mugabe and to commit sabotage.
But as Hungwe freed Mutsekwa in the eastern city of Mutare police in
Harare arrested yet another MDC politician, Timothy Mubhawu who is the
opposition party's Member of Parliament for Mabvuku constituency.
Mubhawu, who is aligned to the faction of the MDC that is led by
Morgan Tsvangirai and whose officials are being targeted for arrest by the
police, was arrested when he presented himself to the police after learning
that they were looking for him.
Police had by last night not yet charged Mubhawu. But the police have
in the past few days indicated they might arrest and charge more MDC
activists in connection with an arms cache the law enforcement agency claims
it discovered in Mutare and which it says were to be used to overthrow
MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said the arrest of Mubhawu, like the
arrest of other activists of the opposition party in the last week, was part
of a plot by the state to derail a congress scheduled for the weekend that
Tsvangirai has said he will use to galvanise supporters for what he calls
"popular resistance" against Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party.
"ZANU PF's behaviour (arresting of Mubhawu and other officials) only
confirms that our congress has sent shock waves in the corridors of power.
The regime has become jelly-kneed because across the nation, our 13 000
delegates are raring to converge at our Congress venue to announce to the
world that the party is alive," said Chamisa in a statement.
In Mutare, Hungwe freed Mutsekwa on Z$50 million bail following an
urgent application by his lawyers.
As part of the bail conditions, Mutsekwa, who is the MDC secretary for
defence and also the party's MP for Mutare North constituency, was also
ordered to reside at his house in Mutare's Greenside suburb and to report to
the police every Friday.
Magistrate Fabian Mashete will today hear the bail application of
Peter Hitschmann, a former soldier of the white army before Zimbabwe's 1980
independence and at whose house state security agents say they discovered
the illegal arms cache.
More than 10 MDC activists are believed to be in police custody in
connection with the weapons cache.
According to reports in the government-owned media, security agents
discovered an array of weapons at the home of Hitschmann including AK-47
automatic rifles, machineguns, shotguns, pistols, revolvers, tear gas
canisters, flares, thousands of rounds of ammunition and a two-way radio
The MDC has strongly denied knowledge or any links to the weapons or
to any group planning an armed insurrection against Mugabe.
Meanwhile Hungwe, who was in Mutare on other official business, also
yesterday ordered the police to release all MDC activists remanded by the
courts to prison authorities who should detain them as they await to appear
Hungwe made the order after lawyers for the opposition activists told
him that the police were holding onto their clients and torturing them.
Once suspects have formally appeared in court and they have not been
granted bail, they are supposed to await trial at remand prison and not in
police cells. - ZimOnline
Wed 15 March 2006
HARARE - The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has accused
senior government officials of denying food aid to hundreds of opposition
supporters staying at a camp outside Harare after their homes were
demolished by the police last year.
At least 300 people, among them supporters of the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change and the ruling ZANU PF parties, are staying at Hopley
Farm after their houses and backyard shacks were destroyed last year during
a controversial government clean-up exercise in urban areas.
According to the ZLHR, government officials overseeing food
distribution were singling out MDC supporters and denying them food as
punishment for backing the opposition party.
In a letter addressed to Harare provincial administrator, a Mr
Kamupira, the lawyers group accused senior social welfare officer, Ezekiel
Mpande, of spearheading the politicisation of food aid at the camp.
"It has come to our attention that he (Mpande) has engaged in
politicisation of food distribution during the carrying out of his
above-noted duties at Hopley Farm.
"In the circumstances, we ask that your office as the office in charge
of administration in Harare Metropolitan province use such administrative
powers to ensure that fairness is re-established . . . to ensure the
well-being of persons transported to Hopley farm," reads the letter.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Mpande rejected charges that he was
denying food aid to opposition supporters.
"This is just malice. The distribution of food is not done along
political lines. You should know that where there are people, there will
always be complaints," said Mpande.
Human rights groups and the MDC have often accused President Robert
Mugabe's government of denying food aid to opposition supporters in a bid to
force them to shift allegiance to the ruling ZANU PF party. Mugabe's
government denies the charge. - ZimOnline
[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
HARARE, 14 Mar 2006 (IRIN) - Life is never easy for people afflicted by
leprosy, but Zimbabwe's fast deteriorating socioeconomic conditions have
made it even more challenging.
At the Mutemwa Leprosy Settlement in Zimbabwe's northeastern Mutoko communal
lands, 90 km east of the capital, Harare, the patients are desperately in
need of food, clothing and financial assistance as the centre's coffers are
empty. The centre also urgently needs money for bedding, repairs and
maintenance of the facilities.
Auxillia Chiviya, an official at the settlement, which was founded in 1937,
told IRIN the situation could become disastrous if no solution to the
centre's financial problems was found within the next month.
The already critical situation at the settlement has been worsened by the
current economic crisis in Zimbabwe. Basic commodities such as fuel, food
and medical supplies are scarce and galloping inflation, currently at 782
percent, has made what little stocks are available inaccessible to the poor.
Rodney Kasiyapfumbi, a patient at the settlement, said donations that used
to come in have dried up. Another patient, Nurse Kambarami, said she had
been surviving on a small helping of sadza (maize-meal porridge) every day.
According to Chiviya, in the 1940s and 50s the settlement grew into a huge
leprosarium with nearly 1,000 patients. Later, with the advent of the drug,
Dapsone, which halts the disease, many patients were sent back to their
homes, where relatives could care for them.
Mutemwa Leprosy centre is home to 50 patients who have suffered severe
deformity and are disabled and destitute - some have lost limbs and others
have been blinded by the disease - who would otherwise have no-one to care
Despite the ongoing deprivation suffered by the patients as a result of the
harsh economic conditions in the country, the centre has remained a haven
for people affected by leprosy, as they often suffered rejection by the
"Some people do not want to share utensils with you ... [or] to be close to
you because you are a leper," said Kambarami.
Faith Chimanda, a supporter of the settlement, said many people did not
understand the disease. "Stigmatisation of people affected by leprosy dates
back to biblical times, where they were seen to be cursed people," she
commented. "In the current crisis in Zimbabwe there is more need than ever
to raise funds for the work to continue, to supply basic needs and medical
care for the patients."
By Peter Clottey
14 March 2006
Zimbabwe's main opposition group, the Movement for Democratic Change, says
President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF government is panicking. This follows a
late night address on state television by Didymus Mutasa, minister of state
security, who threatened physical harm to MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai. In a
press statement, the MDC said for a minister to appear on national
television and issue a chilling statement serves to confirm how the regime
is panicking. The statement added that the dictatorship is suffering from a
guilty conscience over its authorship of the Zimbabwean crises and is now
engaged in shameful acts of shadow boxing and shadow chasing.
Nelson Chamisa is a spokesman for the opposition MDC. Speaking with English
to Africa reporter Peter Clottey, he said, "What we have to realize is that
this government seem to be [barren] of ideas and it has manifested in
extraordinary levels of desperation and they have no solution for the
political and economic crises that we are facing for the social decay we
have witnessed in the country."
Reacting to the arms recently found arms cache linked to the MDC, Chamisa
said, "If you look at what they are now doing, they deliberately planted
some arms. And what they forget is that in the MDC, we are not a rebel
movement; we are a legitimate opposition political party." He added that
there is glaring evidence that suggests the government wants to eliminate
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Mail and Guardian
London, United Kingdom
14 March 2006 04:39
London-based human rights activist Peter Tatchell on Tuesday
dismissed Zimbabwean government allegations that he was linked to a plot to
overthrow President Robert Mugabe.
Tatchell, who has attempted citizen's arrests of Mugabe and a
court bid to have him arrested and extradited to Britain on torture charges,
described the claims as "Mugabe fairy tales" and "downright laughable".
The allegations came to light last week after an arms find in
the eastern Zimbabwean city of Mutare, prompting a number of arrests,
including a Zimbabwe opposition legislator and opposition local functionary.
One of those arrested was said to be a man named Mike Peter
Hitschmann, state television reported, saying he worked for a shadowy
organisation called the Zimbabwe Freedom Movement (ZFM).
Tatchell, an outspoken gay activist as well as a strong critic
of Mugabe, who is equally virulent in his opposition to gays, said he has
never been involved with the ZFM, which he is accused of forming in Britain
"Once in 2003, I was asked by Zimbabwean activists to distribute
in the United Kingdom a ZFM launch press communiqué and video recording," he
said in a statement. "That was the start and finish of my connection with
"Mugabe's henchmen claim I was involved in opening a bank
account in Mozambique to finance the overthrow of the Zimbabwean government.
This is a joke.
"I can't raise enough money to staff an office for my own human
rights work, let alone fund an insurrection. The idea that I am bankrolling
a coup is laughable."
Tatchell claimed instead that Mugabe said in 2003 that the ZFM
did not exist but is now acknowledging it out of political expediency.
"The coup-plot allegations are obviously a ploy to discredit the
opposition and to pave the way for further repression of the Zimbabwean
people," he added. Attempts to link it to the main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change, which has denied any connections, is a "crude bid" to
discredit the party before its congress in the coming weeks.
"If I was part of a plot I would be shouting it from the
rooftops, in the same way that in the 1970s I was open and proud of my
support for [Mugabe's] Zanu-PF [party's] war of liberation against the
white, racist regime of Ian Smith," he stated. -- Sapa-AFP
March 13, 2006
Posted to the web March 14, 2006
Farming with GMOs is banned in Zimbabwe, not only because of potential
health and environment risks, but also for economic reasons - because the
European Union does not import any food containing GMOs.
But in February 2006 a well-known American advocate of biotechnology,
including genetic modification, visited Harare on a lecture tour to urge the
country to embrace biotechnology. Prof Tom De Gregori of the University of
Houston, who came at the invitation of President Robert Mugabe, said
Zimbabwe could turn around its fortunes by applying biotechnology to
agriculture and health.
Delivering a lecture at the University of Zimbabwe, De Gregori said African
countries should follow the examples of China and Malaysia and improve
agricultural productivity through biotechnology. "Biotechnology results in
increased soil protection, reduction in pests and increased yields," he
The comments have prompted speculation that GM plants may be introduced in
So far, there has been little national debate on this issue, although some
farmers are aware of the fears associated with GMOs, including the
contamination of non-GM plants.
Under the Convention on Biological Diversity, it is the responsibility of
governments to inform and consult the people before allowing the
introduction of GMOs. Yet, in practice, the Zimbabwean government has done
little to consult farmers - at a time when such consultations are most
needed. A Bill apparently seeking to promote the safe application of
biotechnology is awaiting introduction before the House of Assembly.
The draft Bill seeks to establish a National Biotechnology Authority - a
statutory body that will be responsible for managing the import, research,
development, production and use of biotechnology in Zimbabwe.
The proposed law also seeks to ensure that the introduction of biotechnology
does not have adverse effects on health, environment, economy, national
security and social norms and values.
Fund to boost cotton
Under the Bill, a National Biotechnology Fund will be established to promote
the marketing and production of transgenic crops as well as research into
modern biotechnology. It empowers the Minister for Science and Technology
Development to impose levies on producers, processors and buyers of any
biotechnological product - money that will go into the Biotechnology Fund.
The move is aimed at boosting the production of mainly cash crops, notably
cotton, which in turn could help beef up Zimbabwe's dwindling foreign
"Our rate of uptake of the upcoming biotechnology is really not encouraging
as biotechnology is poised to revolutionalise the way we do business through
increased food production, which will also be exported to boost foreign
currency reserves," says Science and Technology Development Minister, Dr
But, she admits, "there are also concerns about biotechnology that GMOs may
not be safe to eat; these concerns need to be discussed openly".
Enter Chinese firms...
Experts also point to the potential role of Chinese firms in rolling out GM
crops. Chinese companies have set up in a big way in Zimbabwe's countryside
and President Mugabe, facing increasing isolation from Western governments,
has adopted a 'Look East' policy aimed at facilitating investments from
China and other Asian countries.
"Zimbabwe will continue turning to the East as we seek to explore growth
opportunities and strengthen economic ties," the President said recently.
Zimbabwe and China have also sealed several economic deals that would see
the Chinese funding the production of flue-cured tobacco and cotton among
other products. As a result cotton industry sources are predicting a huge
increase in production this year - around 750,000 kg compared to just
200,000 kg last year.
But there are fears that these Chinese-run farms may not be subject to
strict biosafety controls. For example, there are reports that following the
entry of Chinese and other foreign firms into farming, some farmers have
held illegal field trials with Bt cotton without an operational resistance
And Western multinationals too
The Chinese aren't the only ones waiting in the wings. In 1998, Monsanto,
the world's largest agribiotech company, planted Bt cotton seeds without
official permission. But the Ministry of Land discovered it and ordered the
crop to be burnt before it could flower.
Syngenta, a major Swiss biotechnology multinational, will also watch the
outcome of the debate on the biotechnology Bill. Syngenta has a significant
financial stake in Seed Co, Zimbabwe's largest seed producer, whose
spokeswoman Marjorie Mutemererwa says she believes transgenic crops would
"I do not see anything wrong with controlling the seed market because we
strive to come up with the best product. In fact farmers will benefit and
ensure food self-sufficiency for Zimbabwe. We must grow seeds that we are
sure of," Mutemererwa says.
Over the past five years, Zimbabwe has had to cope with a string of poor
harvests of maize, forcing it to import the grain from South Africa,
Argentina and Brazil among other countries.
But the promise of achieving food self-sufficiency needs to be weighed
against the possible negative effects using GMOs.
Legalising GM crops, for instance, could compromise Zimbabwe's exports to
the European Union: the country enjoys a preferential arrangement by which
it can export up to 9,100 tons of GM-free beef to the EU every year. For
Zimbabwe, which has been facing a severe shortage of foreign currency, this
export is vital.
No debate but many views
Although there has been no public debate as yet, there is a wide range of
views among key Zimbabweans involved in agriculture policy.
Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement Minister Didymus Mutasa says Zimbabwe is
suspicious of GMOs, mainly for health reasons.
"We will not import GMO food. We have not changed policy and will not in the
near future. Our policy not to import unmilled maize [because GM maize may
be mixed in and could be planted] is steadfast, and we continue to maintain
it. It has not been reviewed and the Cabinet has not changed its position,"
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Davison Mugabe said farmers
would support anything as long as it enhanced productivity. "We want our
scientists to come clear on GMOs, whether they are harmful or not, and
advise us accordingly. We do not want a biased approach," he says.
Davison Mugabe says he believes transgenic seeds are a major problem until
proven otherwise, and adds that many others are of the same view.
Out in the country, farmers too have been weighing the pros and cons of GMO
crops. Town Chingarande, whose farm is located 500 km west of Harare, sees
major advantages in planting GM crops, making him a rare voice on a
continent where the technology has struggled to find favour.
"They help to increase your yields and reduce your input costs. If you have
a crop that is resistant to being eaten by pests you don't have to spend
money on spraying with insecticide," he says.
The main concern appears to be over environmental contamination. Dr Eddie
Mwenje of the National University of Science and Technology was recently
quoted in the press saying: "We have started doing our analysis and results
so far show a higher possibility of genes being transferred to the natural
'Caution needed' - Joseph Made
Influential agriculture Minister Dr Joseph Made says there is need to
exercise caution in introducing GMOs - the wholesale introduction of GMO
foods, he says, might cause irreparable damage to crops and soil fertility.
"If we just introduce GMOs without first carrying out extensive research we
might end up regretting it. As you know there is no precision in science.
Mistakes might happen, so we need to introduce them gradually and after
doing serious research and this is where Africa has been lacking," he says.
"The researchers should include health personnel, who would come in to look
into things like allergies and other related issues. Consumers also
determine how much we should produce - hence the need to be cautious when
tampering with nature."
"My concern is on the production side - that anything we do with GMOs should
not destroy our biodiversity," Made says.
There is little doubt that Zimbabwe and other southern African countries are
being groomed by industry as potential candidates for GM crops. But there is
uncertainty over what will follow if these crops are introduced - or if
multinational corporations wrest control of the seed market.
March 14 2006 at 02:26PM
Harare - Zimbabwe faces a shortfall of 1,1 million tons of the
national staple maize this year, the United States' (US) food monitoring
Famine Early Warning System Network (Fewsnet) said.
Fewsnet, in an assessment report received here Tuesday, said the
southern African country is most likely to harvest 700 000 tons of maize for
the 2005-2006 farming season against an annual consumption of 1,8 million
"It is still expected that cereal harvest will exceed last year's
drought-affected harvest," Fewsnet said, pegging this year's harvest at 700
Zimbabwe's farming season ends in May.
The report classifies Zimbabwe as a country for "High Priority-Urgent
Action Required," along with Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.
"Agricultural preparedness in the country was very poor and this has
led to failure to take full advantage of good rainfall, with farmers forced
to plant late and reduce planted areas as a result of late acquisition or
non-availability of necessary inputs," the report said.
The US agency also said that the widespread shortage and high costs
of farming inputs such as seeds, fuel, fertilisers and power had severely
limited the farming capacity of both small and commercial farmers.
Zimbabwe is currently in the throes of economic crisis characterised
by runaway inflation, soaring poverty levels, an unemployment rate hovering
at over 70 percent and chronic shortages of fuel and basic goods like
Over four million Zimbabweans in a population of 13 million face food
shortages, according to United Nations agencies.
President Robert Mugabe's government has attributed the food shortages
to drought, denying that it was a result of its controversial land reforms
which saw agricultural productivity grinding to a near halt after some 4 000
white farmers were forcibly removed from their properties since 2000.
At its peak, the agricultural sector accounted for about 16,5 percent
of gross domestic product, 33 percent of foreign exchange earnings and 26
percent of employment, according to finance ministry figures. - Sapa-AFP
Mail and Guardian
Cape Town, South Africa
14 March 2006 02:32
United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan is to visit Zimbabwe
in a further attempt to resolve that country's problems.
Briefing the media in Cape Town after discussions with President
Thabo Mbeki, Annan said Zimbabwe had great potential and an important role
to play on the continent.
The current situation in the country was extremely difficult for
Zimbabwe itself, the region, and the world, and had to be resolved, he said.
Annan was responding to a question about South Africa's policy
of pursuing "quiet diplomacy" to resolve the problems there.
"We live in an interdependent world," he said.
There had been a tendency by African countries not to get
involved in the internal affairs of other African countries. However, in
this day and age, very few crises remained internal, and usually soon
affected neighbouring countries.
Annan said South Africa had done a lot in trying to help resolve
the crisis in Zimbabwe, and that country's neighbours should be encouraged
to work with the Zimbabweans to solve their problems.
He intended to visit Zimbabwe -- not on his current trip -- but
on a special visit, to "discuss the issues" with the Zimbabwean authorities.
Because of its history, its potential, and the important role it
had to play, it was necessary to restore Zimbabwe to the position it ought
to occupy, Annan said.
He thanked South Africa, and Mbeki personally, for his efforts
in helping to resolve conflicts on the African continent, including the
Ivory Coast, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Darfur in Sudan.
"I have always been able to count on the president [Mbeki] as a
very reliable partner," Annan said. -- Sapa
March 14 2006 at 10:42AM
Three Zimbabweans who got into difficulties in the Limpopo river while
trying to enter the country illegally have been arrested, police said on
"They were trying to swim into South Africa but got stuck in the
waters. Locals spotted them and called the police. When divers arrived the
community had already saved them," Superintendent Ailwei Mushavhanamadi
They were pulled out of the river three hours after being spotted.
The three were taken to Musina police station and would be deported on
Tuesday, Mushavhanamadi said. - Sapa
14/03/2006 12:48 - (SA)
Harare - Government officials, politicians and their relatives who seized
houses built for those who lost their homes under Zimbabwean President
Robert Mugabe's controversial shack demolitions last year are to have them
taken back, says a cabinet minister on Tuesday.
Ignatius Chombo, the minister of local government, said "undeserving" people
had been allocated some of the new homes constructed under the official
Operation Garikai (Settle and Prosper) scheme, launched in June last year.
Reports said that people found to have been wrongly allocated houses and
plots "would have their properties withdrawn".
This was one of the few times a senior government official had admitted new
homes had been wrongly acquired.
Chombo said: "This programme is for those without residential addresses. We
already have problems in Beitbridge, Bulawayo, Gwanda and other areas, where
undeserving people have been allocated the houses."
Chombo was addressing a monitoring team for the Operation Garikai programme
in Matabeleland North province, in the west of the country.
The government launched Operation Garikai just weeks after police began
demolishing tens of thousands of shacks they said had been built without
The United Nations said that at least 700 000 people lost their homes and
livelihoods in the clean-up, dubbed Operation Restore Order.
Lack of foreign currency
Initially, the government said more than a million new houses and plots
would be established across Zimbabwe in the next four years.
But, the programme had run into big problems because of Zimbabwe's chronic
lack of foreign currency as well as vital inputs such as building materials
Official figures announced last month put the number of housing units built
so far at 3 000.
Recent reports said the construction of new homes had all, but stopped and
the authorities were now merely handing out housing plots.
Chombo said: "Councils should remove the names of their relatives,
government officials, members of parliament, politicians and relatives from
the operations waiting list."
He said the officials had to wait to be allocated housing plots.
By Tichaona Sibanda
14 March 2006
MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa has said the congress set for this
weekend is the last platform for members who defected from the party to use
as a springboard to come back to the fold.
Invitation letters have been sent out to almost all members who split
from the Tsvangirai camp, but analysts believe none of them will turn up for
Asked what this would mean Chamisa said; 'Their absence is going to be
an indictment on their part because they would have shown the whole world
that they are not interested in the struggle for a new Zimbabwe. If they don't
turn up, the train will go full steam ahead. The congress juggernaut has
already started rolling.'
On amendments to the party constitution the national youth chairman
said it was necessary to revisit some sections because they had caused a lot
of problems in the past. He said by amending the constitution it was in the
hope that they will be enhancing and enriching democratic institutions
within the party.
'What we are simply doing is to make sure that we don't create
institutions out of individuals. We already have institutions and systems
that are working in the party,' said Chamisa.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Lance Guma
14 March 2006
The African News Dimension (AND) network reports that a group of war
veterans shut down a sports club owned by the National Railways of Zimbabwe
last Friday, for allowing opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai to address a
meeting there earlier in the month. Tsvangirai was a guest at the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) silver jubilee celebrations and addressed
the gathering at Raylton Sports Club.
The war veterans are said to have travelled all the way from Bulawayo
arriving at the club in the morning where they allegedly began assaulting
patrons. Club manager Norman Ushe was manhandled and beaten up. The group
had been drinking heavily and shouted obscenities saying Tsvangirai was a
'dog and should not have been allowed the platform to speak'. According to
the AND news network 'they started demanding food and went ahead and looted
the canteen'. The police failed to attend to the incident despite calls by
Raylton is a members only club that groups together mostly NRZ workers
although outsiders are free to join. The Zimbabwe National army's Major
General Engelbert Rugeje is reported to be a frequent visitor to the club.
No link has however been established between his visits and the raid by the
war veterans. Premier soccer league champions Caps United also use the clubs
Last Tarabuku, a projects officer with the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions, says apart from the raid by the war veterans, workers at the sports
club are still undergoing continued harassment for availing the ZCTU of its
facilities. He says the labour body now struggles to get venues for its
meetings because venue owners are demanding clearance letters from both the
police and local councils.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Institute for War and Peace Reporting
Opposition figure Roy Bennett told IWPR he had no plans to leave Zimbabwe,
just before police put him on their wanted list in connection with an
alleged coup plot.
From Jacob Uriri in Mutare (AR No.56, 14-Mar-06)
Leading Zimbabwean opposition figure Roy Bennett spoke of his determination
to continue the struggle against President Robert Mugabe's regime in an
exclusive interview he gave to IWPR shortly before going to ground last
Zimbabwean police have been looking for Bennett since early last week, when
eight people including four policemen were arrested and charged with a plot
to stage armed attacks on the Mugabe administration. An arms cache was
allegedly found at the home of one of them.
The group are accused of plotting to kill Mugabe when he travelled to the
eastern town of Mutare to celebrate his 82nd birthday on February 25, by
spilling oil on the road to make his motorcade have an accident.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change, MDC, of which Bennett remains
a prominent member, has denied all knowledge of the alleged plot.
Bennet emerged from prison last year after serving a 12-month jail sentence
for pushing Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa to the ground. It was a
sentence imposed by the ZANU PF majority in parliament - in which Bennett
sat as an MDC deputy - rather than by a court of law.
As a white Zimbabwean farmer, Bennett had already seen his cattle and coffee
landholdings looted and expropriated by soldiers and ZANU PF militants, his
farmhouse burned down, his wife beaten so badly that she lost the baby she
was carrying, two farm workers killed by soldiers and female workers raped.
Immediately before Bennett was placed on the wanted list for the alleged
plot against Mugabe, IWPR carried out the last known interview with him. He
spoke about his stay in the Chikurubi maximum security prison, outside
Harare, which he said was one of the most gruelling experiences of his life,
and also about his hopes for the future.
IWPR: It is eight months since you came out of prison for shoving Patrick
Chinamasa. What you have been up to since your release?
Bennett: Just trying to survive in these harsh economic conditions and still
fighting for democracy in this country. I am still determined to fight for
IWPR: But Roy, you have been quiet since you came out of prison Are you
still actively involved in politics?
Bennett: Yes, in fact I was elected the [MDC] chairman for Manicaland
province. And that is how I am fighting our struggle for democracy. The
struggle against this regime is just beginning.
IWPR: But the MDC, of which you are a member, has split. In which faction do
you hold that position of chairman?
Bennett: I am the chairman of MDC, the party, and not a faction. There are
no factions in Manicaland. Here it's "MDC, the party". I am leading people
towards democracy and not towards a faction. [The MDC split late last year
on the issue of whether or not to contest elections to a controversial new
upper house of parliament. Bennett remains loyal to MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai who was against fighting the Senate election.]
IWPR: Can you tell us what was going on through your mind when you were in
prison and what the conditions were like there?
Bennett: It was terrible. The conditions are terrible. It's a terrible life
that those prisoners are living there. It's totally inhuman.
IWPR: What kind of people did you meet there?
Bennett: I met both hardcore and petty criminals. But what really struck me
were the petty thieves who were locked up for months for stealing chickens
and even groundnuts. Most of these people were below 25 years of age. And
that told me that there was something terribly wrong about this system.
IWPR: So what does that indicate to you?
Bennett: It shows me that all these boys in jail were trying to survive.
They were pushed to do criminal activities because of the economic collapse.
They were jobless and they were trying to survive. It is government policies
that destroyed this economy.
IWPR: And the conditions in jail?
Bennett: Well they kept on changing me, but sometimes I was with as many as
50 people in one cell. It was so crowded that you can't sleep on your back.
You have to sleep on your side because there is no space. The ablution
systems have broken down. The food is even worse.
IWPR: Did that break your spirit?
Bennett: No, because I knew this was part of the struggle for democracy.
IWPR: Before you were sent to prison, the government had already started
moving on you at your Charleswood Farm. Can you tell us more about that?
Bennett: The government had already taken over my farm through the army. I
was chased out of my farm and left with nothing except the clothes I was
wearing. They took everything that I had. Everything that I have worked for,
for years. They harvested my 70 tonnes of standing coffee. They took my 170
head of cattle and 300 sheep. They also took over my Export Processing Zone
factory with its state-of-the-art coffee milling plant.
IWPR: The government is now giving slight hints that it might compensate
commercial farmers who lost their land in President Mugabe's so-called land
reform programme. Were you given anything?
Bennett: They took everything and they never paid a cent for it. Now the
army has moved out and given the farm to Arda (a government-owned
agriculture company) to run it. Arda is busy slaughtering my cattle and
sheep and taking the money. There is complete lawlessness in this country.
IWPR: Did you seek redress in the court?
Bennett: Yes I did, and the court said it was an urgent matter. There were
eight judgments in my favour and Mugabe simply overrode every one of them.
Only last week, Arda took 21 head of cattle and 60 sheep for slaughter at
the Surrey Abattoirs. But I now understand that, after realising that we
have gone to court, they took the animals back to another farm in
Chimanimani, not my own.
IWPR: So retribution has continued?
Bennett: Yes. I am suffering for pushing Chinamasa who, as you know, had
provoked me. They are still punishing me for that.
IWPR: Have you ever considered leaving Zimbabwe, as other white farmers are
Bennett: No, the battle is here. I will stay and fight it out in Zimbabwe.
We need to fight this regime.
Jacob Uriri is a pseudonym for a journalist in Zimbabwe.
March 14, 2006
By Tagu Mkwenyani
Harare (AND)ARTHUR Mutambara, the president of the pro-senate faction
of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has started firing
broadsides at his rival, Morgan Tsvangirai who is the president of the anti
Analysts say Mutambara might be spoiling for a political fight with
Tsvangirai who remains the greatest threat to his plan to lead a united
opposition party that will take President Mugabe head on. Tsvangirai remains
very popular with the grassroots and analysts say Mutambara will have to do
much to convince ordinary Zimbabwe that he is better than Tsvangirai.
Mutambara's tirades come a few days before Tsvangirai's camp holds its own
congress during the weekend.
Over 10 000 delegates are expected to attend the congress where
Tsvangirai is expected to be re-elected unopposed. Key stakeholders such as
the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) are expected to endorse
Tsvangirai publicly as the geniune leader of the opposition Movement in
Harare. Meeting provincial leaders of his faction on Sunday, Mutambara hit
out at Tsvangirai saying he was a dictator who needed to repent. "We are
not-pro Senate, but pro-Zimbabwe.
The dispute we have with Tsvangirai is because we do not want those
who use violence on opponents. They are our friends, but we do not want
those that breach the party's constitution with impunity. "They must repent,
be punished and join the party as followers. We don't want dictators. We
want democracy, democracy and democracy," Mutambara was quoted as saying by
a Zimbabwe daily paper, The Mirror. The paper said Mutambara also fired a
broadside at Tsvangirai. "If Tsvangirai wants to be president of Zimbabwe,
he should come through Mutambara, after competing with me.
When I said he was my hero I didn't mean that I was scared of him."
Although Tsvangirai has not yet responded to the taunts, his aides said he
is likely to hit back at the congress after re-election. "After getting the
mandate from the congress, President Tsvangirai will speak about pretenders
to the throne. He will certainly tell Mutambara to shut up," said an aide.