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US 'amazed' at Mugabe Rome visit

From correspondents in Rome

October 15, 2005

THE United States has expressed "amazement" at a UN invitation to Zimbabwe's
President Robert Mugabe to address a hunger conference in Rome on Monday to
mark the 60th anniversary of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

"I find it amazing they've invited Mr Mugabe to speak at the 60th
anniversary, who in a way has done so much to hurt the hungry, and who has
absolutely turned his back on the poor," said Tony Hall, US ambassador to
the UN food agencies in Rome.

"I find it amazing. What can he possibly say to us at the conference, when
he has done so much to hurt his own people. Food has been used as a weapon
against his own people," Mr Hall said overnight.

President Mugabe confirmed his attendance with the organisers yesterday, a
FAO spokeswoman said. He is expected to travel to Rome on Sunday.

Nine heads of state, including those from Italy, Brazil, Venezuela, Botswana
and Ecuador, will take part in Monday's ceremony to mark the 60th
anniversary of the Rome-based UN food agency.

The FAO will use the occasion to draw attention to the plight of the world's

Mr Hall, a former Democrat Congressman from Ohio, said he would attend the
conference on Monday and listen to Mr Mugabe's speech.

"He will speak. We will listen. I'm not going to applaud. Nor do I think we
should welcome him here. The last thing I want to do as a representative of
my country is give him credibility."

The ambassador said he had visited Zimbabwe recently "and I witnessed so
many people who were thrown out in the cold."

"The country used to be a net exporter of food and now a good portion of the
people have to be fed," said Mr Hall, who was on a tour of World Food
Programme aid stations in the stricken southern African country.

Mr Mugabe, 81, has been banned from travelling to the European Union since
targeted sanctions were imposed on Zimbabwe by Brussels and the United
States after he won a disputed presidential election in 2002.

He has managed to evade the ban on several occasions, such as the Vatican
invitation to attend Pope John Paul II's funeral last April and for UN

The US labelled Zimbabwe one of the world's six "outposts of tyranny" in
January and along with the EU maintains a freeze on Mr Mugabe's financial
assets and those of his associates.

Mr Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980,
says the US and EU are punishing him for his controversial seizures of 5,000
white-owned farms and their redistribution to blacks.

Hosting a UN conference on food safety in Africa in Harare earlier this
month, he defended his policy of land seizure which many blame for the
collapse of his country's agricultural sector.

"Zimbabwe's much-vilified land reform programme is our response to the
challenge of empowering more of our people, and therefore creating a wider
base of farmers in the country," he said.

As dignitaries gather for the 60th anniversary in Rome, Hall's comments on
Mr Mugabe's attendance are likely to further stoke a diplomatic spat over
the arrest in Harare of US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell.

The US State Department said Dell had "inadvertently wandered into a poorly
marked military area" near Mugabe's house, adding that it had accepted
Zimbabwe's apologies.


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Beleaguered African villagers fearful of big game project

· Countries join in world's largest wildlife park
· Hunting ban leaves humans vulnerable

Kristy Siegfried in Pafuri, Mozambique
Saturday October 15, 2005
The Guardian

 It will cover an area equivalent to half of Scotland and cross the borders
of three countries. Nearly 150 species - including elephants, rhinos and
lions - will roam across its savannah landscapes. Tourists, it is hoped,
will come in their thousands.
What is hailed as the world's biggest animal kingdom, the Great Limpopo
Transfrontier Park, will move a step closer to completion in the next few
weeks as the presidents of South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe open the
first border post. The countries are merging three game reserves, creating a
35,000 sq km conservation area. Eventually it will cover 100,000 sq km. The
project, 15 years in the planning, has been praised as an example of
regional cooperation and sustainable development, raising foreign investment
and creating much needed jobs.

 Article continues



But the mood is not so optimistic among the people of Salani village, in
Mozambique, who for generations have planted crops and hunted wild animals,
and who now fear they will no longer be the hunters but the hunted. "This is
our ancestors' land and where our grandfathers are buried," explains the
village chief, Armando Salani. But since officials removed a section of
fence between Kruger national park in South Africa and Limpopo national park
in Mozambique and enforced a hunting ban to allow animals to begin
populating the land along the Limpopo River, villagers and their livestock
are vulnerable to predators.
"We used to walk any time, but now we only walk by day," says Rose Hlongo,
sitting beneath a tree on the road to Salani. "Last week hyenas killed our

Mr Salani says the villagers have yet to be compensated for lost livestock
and park officials have refused to erect protective fencing, arguing that
the game must be free to roam. The hunting ban has depleted the villagers'
already meagre diet and the promised tourism jobs are a distant prospect.
Limpopo national park lacks tarred roads, running water and electricity,
much less a range of tourist-friendly amenities. Game-viewing opportunities
are still rare, and it will take years for zebras, giraffes, impala and
rhinos to populate the entire area.

For now, village life continues much as it always has. Women pound maize
outside mud huts, children play and evenings are whiled away drinking malala
beer, made from the roots of an indigenous palm. After three years of
drought and the damming of the Limpopo, for much of the year the river no
longer runs and crops often fail. "We don't have enough food," says Mr

As the fences come down, clashes between animals and people are bound to
increase, admits Ari van Wyk, project manager for the park. "Some people
feel wildlife and people must live in harmony, but we know if there's no
proper fencing, [the animals] will go into people's fields."

Some villagers complain that animal rights have taken precedence over human
rights. But Willem van Riet, chief executive of the Peace Parks Foundation
which initiated the plan, insists the idea is to use conservation to develop
impoverished areas. The PPF has already created six transfrontier parks in
southern Africa. Initial funding for the Mozambican part of the Limpopo
transfrontier park has come from the German development bank, which will
also pay for the resettlement of eight villages. How they will be
compensated and where they will be moved to is still under discussion.

Currently, no donor is willing to fund the Zimbabwean section of the park,
which includes the Gonarezhou national park. South African papers report
that Gonarezhou has been invaded by settlers and that much of its game has
been killed.

For now, most of the villagers have opted to wait and see what happens.
"Even with the problems we still want to stay here, because we were born
here and our ancestors are from here," Rose Hlongo says. "We haven't seen
any positive changes yet, but we're waiting."

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Zimbabwe deportation policy in chaos after tribunal ruling

The Times October 15, 2005

            By Richard Ford, Home Correspondent

         HUNDREDS of failed Zimbabwean asylum-seekers are set to remain
in Britain after a tribunal yesterday halted the deportation of a dishonest
and fraudulent asylum-seeker.
            In a test case, the tribunal ruled that the man, who has
repeatedly lied to authorities in Britain, would be at risk of harm if
returned to President Mugabe's regime. The ruling left Charle Clarke's
policy on forced deportations to Harare in disarray, with the Home Office
unable to say when removals would resume.

            Campaigners claimed that the judgment, which was highly critical
of the Home Office, would prevent the Home Secretary from forcibly removing
failed Zimbabwean asylum- seekers. In a further blow to asylum policy, the
tribunal ruled that even fraudulent asylum- seekers were entitled to refugee
status if there was a risk they would be harmed when sent home.

            Tony McNulty, the Immigration Minister, attacked the judgment
and said it had left the whole asylum and immigration system open to abuse.
He said under the 1951 refugee convention, each case was decided on its
merits and specific circumstances. Mr McNulty added: "This judgment drives
an entire coach and horses through that and leaves the entire system open to

            But ministers will now face an uphill struggle to resume forced
deportations to Zimbabwe. No failed Zimbabwean asylum-seekers were removed
between January 2002 and November 2004 but in that month deportations
resumed. A total of 210 failed asylum- seekers were forcibly removed until
the middle of July this year when deportations were suspended while
inquiries on conditions in Zimbabwe were conducted.

            Mark Ockelton, chairman of the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal,
said the man, known only as AA, had a "well founded fear of persecution" if
he was returned, even though his asylum claim had been fraudulent. He said
the man, aged 30, could not be sent back because, merely by making a
fraudulent asylum claim, he had put himself at risk of being harmed by the
Mugabe regime. The regime considered asylum- seekers to be "traitors", and
"Blair's spies", the tribunal was told.

            A 49-page judgment is scathing about the Home Office's attitude
towards the Zimbabweans it had forcibly flown home. It criticises a joint
Home Office and Foreign Office fact-finding mission sent to the country in
preparation for the case and said evidence given to a High Court judge at an
earlier hearing was not accurate.

            The ruling said that procedures adopted by British officials
ensured that the CIO, President Mugabe's secret police, had "immediate
access" to everyone forcibly deported.

            "We find the respondent's lack of interest in the process by
which individuals that he returns to Zimbabwe are received by the Zimbabwean
authorities rather alarming," Mark Ockelton, the chairman of the Tribunal,
said. He said that it was "rather surprising" that the Home Office had not
monitored returns and had failed to trace individuals who had complained of
mistreatment after being sent back to Harare.

            The judgment also questioned the impartiality of a government
fact-finding delegation that went to Zimbabwe in September. It comprised
civil servants involved in immigration policy, rather than experienced
investigators of conditions in foreign countries, Mr Ockelton said.

            "The way in which the investigation was conducted, and the way
in which the results were presented to us, gives rise to the possibility -
we say no more than that - that the investigators may have had existing
policy in mind rather more than the discovery of new facts," he said.

            The field trip, which was "front-page news" in Harare during the
visit, also failed to provide hard evidence of what actually happened to
failed asylum-seekers deported to Zimbabwe, the ruling said.

            A Home Office spokesman said: "We are disappointed with the

            "The tribunal has decided that, unlike claimants from every
other country, the individual merits of Zimbabwean asylum claims do not
count when assessing whether it would be safe for them to return to

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Diplomatic Tension in Harare Over Detention of U.S. Ambassador


By Carole
      14 October 2005

U.S. Embassy officials in the Zimbabwean capital of Harare have expressed
"regret" at conflicting statements issued by government officials following
the brief detention early this week of the U.S. ambassador for walking too
near the president's residence.

Ambassador Christopher Dell was on a "recreational visit" to the National
Botanical Gardens on Monday, according to a statement issued by the American
Embassy's public affairs office, when he was detained for over an hour by
military security officers who released him after establishing he was a
member of the diplomatic corps.

Government officials said Mr. Dell "deliberately ignored the 'No Entry
Security Zone' signs posted in the vicinity of the restricted security area"
near the official residence of President Robert Mugabe, the state-controlled
herald newspaper reported.

But the embassy said the area was poorly marked and in the middle of the

 Following the incident, the Zimbabwean Foreign Office's chief of protocol
apologized to Ambassador Dell for the incident, and the next day a oreign
affairs permanent secretary sent a similar apology which the embassy
accepted, the embassy said.

But Harare then changed its tone as the Foreign Affairs Ministry sent a
protest note to the embassy over what it called Mr. Dell's "illegal attempt
to enter a secure area."

Presidential spokesman George Charamba told the Herald the ambassador should
consider himself a lucky man, as he could have been accidentally shot to

Reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe spoke with
Princeton Lyman, a former ambassador to South Africa and Nigeria and now the
Washington-based director for Africa policy studies for the U.S. Council on
Foreign Relations.

Mr. Lyman said such statements from Harare were uncalled for.

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US envoy accused of provoking regime change

Irish Independent


 THE American ambassador to Zimbabwe was yesterday accused of attempting to
provoke "regime change" after straying into a military zone close to the
residence of President Robert Mugabe.

Ambassador Christopher Dell found himself on the wrong end of a bayonet as
he was held at gunpoint for more than one-and-a-half hours by the
presidential guard after walking up a restricted hill at the National
Botanical Gardens.

The American embassy said the ambassador had walked into the poorly marked
military area while in the gardens last Monday. The hill in the gardens is
not fenced off, but it has been restricted since 1981 when shots were fired
at the residence from the top.

But the incident was sufficient for the Zimbabwean government to accuse Mr
Dell of attempting to provoke a diplomatic stand-off.

Presidential spokesman George Charamba told the state-run 'Herald' newspaper
yesterday that Mr Dell was lucky to be alive after the incident. "The
ambassador must consider himself very lucky that he is dealing with a
professional Zimbabwe national army. Elsewhere, and definitely in America,
he would have been a dead man." A foreign ministry statement said: "Such
action was taken in a calculated disregard of the rules governing relations
between states and was clearly intended to provoke an unwarranted diplomatic

It added: Mr Dell "purposefully proceeded to enter the zone and would have
continued to enter the security installations were it not for the timely
intervention of the presidential guard." Government sources quoted by the
paper said the incident was part of a US plan to effect "regime change" in

Mr Dell was only released when the foreign ministry intervened. Yesterday,
the embassy expressed surprise that the Zimbabwe authorities had gone to the
media as the US government considered the matter closed.

Mr Dell had accepted apologies from two senior Zimbabwean foreign affairs
officials over his brief detention, including an explanation that the guards
who had held him did not know how to deal with issues involving diplomats,
the embassy statement said.

Relations between the US and Zimbabwe have soured in recent years, with
Washington accusing Mr Mugabe's government of rigging elections and abusing
human rights.

But the 81-year-old president says his economy has been sabotaged by Western
powers seeking to overthrow him. Mr Mugabe "is entrenched and not subject to
outside pressure," according to a senior US official. Punitive measures such
as targeted sanctions have failed to produce results, while the softer
approach of dialogue led by South Africa has also failed. (© Independent
News Service)

Anne Penketh
in Harare

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US: Case of ambassador's detention in Harare closed


    2005-10-15 05:32:15

          WASHINGTON, Oct. 14 (Xinhuanet) -- The United States has received
apologies from Zimbabwe for the brief detention of Christopher Dell, US
ambassador in Harare, and considers "this incident is closed," the State
Department said Friday.

          "The chief of protocol of Zimbabwe telephoned our ambassador later
to express his profound apology for the incident. He explained that the
soldiers on duty did not understand their responsibilities," deputy State
Department spokesman Adam Ereli said at a news briefing.

          "And the next day, an official from the ministry of foreign
affairs also contacted Ambassador Dell and conveyed a similar apology. So
for our purposes, this incident is closed."

          Dell "inadvertently wandered into a poorly marked military
areathat was in the middle of the National Botanical Garden in Harare"on
Monday before he was detained and held for 90 minutes by military security
personnel, Ereli said.

          It was reported that Zimbabwe's foreign ministry accused Dell of
deliberately entering the zone near the official residence of President
Robert Mugabe in a bid to spark an "unwarranted diplomatic incident."

          Relations between the United States and Zimbabwe have soured
inrecent years, with Washington accusing Mugabe's government of rigging
parliamentary and presidential elections since 2000. Enditem

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Zimbabwe would collapse if expelled from IMF - Mbeki


      Sat Oct 15, 2005 4:29 PM GMT

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's tottering economy would finally collapse
with catastrophic consequences for its neighbours if it were expelled from
the IMF for unpaid arrears, South African President Thabo Mbeki said on

Mbeki told a forum of African Editors that his government had offered to
help Zimbabwe pay the arrears precisely because it knew the implications,
including on South Africa itself, of Harare's expulsion from the
International Monetary Fund.

"Fortunately they found someone to pay part of the arrears," he said. He did
not say if talks were continuing on helping Zimbabwe pay the balance of

"We had indeed said that we were ready to assist, and the reason we wanted
to assist was because we understood the implications of Zimbabwe's expulsion
from the IMF," Mbeki said.

"What it would mean, among other things, is that everybody who is owed
something by Zimbabwe would demand immediately to be paid," he said. "You
would even get to a situation where they would seize anything that was being
exported out of Zimbabwe because of that debt."

The private banks would stop lending even to a private borrower, Mbeki

"In that kind of situation any country would collapse, and that would affect
Malawi, that would affect South Africa," Mbeki said, naming some of
Zimbabwe's neighbours.

Zimbabwe is struggling to repay its debts to the IMF and turn its economy
around after six years of recession which have seen output contract by a
third, inflation soar into triple digits, and unemployment climb to 70

It has paid the IMF $135 million in a bid to clear debt arrears that drove
the country into danger of expulsion from the fund, but it still owes about
$160 million.

Mbeki's analysis mirrored a bleak report by the IMF earlier this month which
said the pace of deterioration in Zimbabwe's economy had worsened, and it
was expected to contract by seven percent in 2005 after shrinking by four
percent last year.

Michael Nowak, deputy director of the IMF's Africa department, told
reporters in Johannesburg on Friday the situation in Zimbabwe was "rapidly
reaching a point" where, even if policy action were taken, the loss of human
and physical capital meant it "would never be able to recover to the level
it was before".

The IMF has said that even if Zimbabwe managed to pay what it owes, it
risked accumulating arrears again without fundamental policy changes to put
its economy on a sustainable path.


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Swearing at Mugabe won't help, says Mbeki


           October 15 2005 at 06:33AM

      Shouting and swearing at the Zimbabwean government would not help
resolve problems there, President Thabo Mbeki said on Saturday.

      "It will really be quite easy for me to call a press conference and
say 'Bob Mugabe, these are the things I don't like' and make very good
news," he told delegates at the launch of The African Editors' Forum in
Kempton Park, Gauteng.

      "But, I am saying that is the end of the engagement. It doesn't work."

      South Africa's approach - and that of the region - was to work
together to find solutions to problems.

      "The easiest thing to do, as you would know, is to swear at somebody.
We can. But that's the end of the engagement." He said this may work for
other regions.

    "In our view it doesn't make sense in the region here.

      "Shouting at one another won't help. So - no - there is not going to
be amplification of anything, but an engagement."

      Mbeki and the SA government have been criticised for the "quiet
diplomacy" approach to Zimbabwe's political and other problems, including an
imploding economy and human rights violations. - Sapa

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Mugabe welcomes opposition poll boycott plan


           October 15 2005 at 03:43AM

      Harare - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe says he will "thank God" if
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) goes ahead with its
boycott of senate elections next month, the state- run Herald newspaper
reported Saturday.

      "If they (MDC) foolishly boycott, we shall say God has blessed us. We
will go to church and thank God for blessing Zanu-PF. We will not spend any
money campaigning," Mugabe told a rally in the second city of Bulawayo on

      On Wednesday, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai announced that his
party would boycott the November 26 polls, arguing that Zimbabwe's electoral
system "breeds illegitimate outcomes."

    But senior party officials say their leader ignored an internal party
vote in favour of participation, and they have said that the MDC will field
candidates for the new 66-seat upper chamber.

      At the rally, Mugabe said the MDC was now an "irrelevant" party.

      "Tsvangirai is scared, but whether they boycott or participate... to
us it's irrelevant. They are an irrelevant party," Mugabe said. Later he
donated 100 computers to 10 schools in Bulawayo, traditionally an opposition

      Meanwhile reports said splits within the six-year-old opposition party
were widening.

      The opposition leader is alleged to have written a letter on Friday to
MDC officials in Zimbabwe's 12 provinces instructing them not to prepare for
the polls.

      "You are instructed not to participate in the senate elections. For
the avoidance of doubt, the party and its members shall not offer themselves
for nomination as candidates in the senate elections," the Herald quoted the
letter as saying.

      "You are further instructed to disregard any contrary instruction," it

      Tsvangirai's letter came after reports said the party's deputy
secretary general Gift Chimanikire had sent out letters to the country's
twelve provinces calling for the opposition party to start selecting
candidates to stand in the senate election. - Sapa-dpa

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