The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

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Zimbabwe: Mass Evictions Lead to Massive Abuses
11 Sep 2005 21:55:23 GMT

Source: Human Rights Watch

(London, September 11, 2005) - In its policy of forced evictions and mass displacement, the Zimbabwean government has violated the human rights of hundreds of thousands of its citizens, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Over the past two weeks, the Zimbabwean authorities have compounded the suffering by refusing to fully cooperate with United Nations agencies and humanitarian groups working to assist the evicted population. On August 26, President Robert Mugabe's government rejected the terms of a draft U.N. emergency appeal that would have helped hundreds of thousands of those hardest hit by the evictions.
The 40-page report, "Clear the Filth: Mass Evictions and Demolitions in Zimbabwe," documents how the government has violated the human rights of its citizens by arbitrarily forcing them to destroy their property without due notice, process or compensation, and by displacing thousands into the rural areas where they lack basic services such as health care, education, clean water or means of economic support.
"The Zimbabwean government has caused untold suffering to poor and vulnerable people," said Tiseke Kasambala, Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. "To make matters worse, Mugabe's government is now delaying the provision of much-needed humanitarian assistance to hundreds of thousands of people affected by the evictions."
The humanitarian consequences of "Operation Murambatsvina" ("Operation Clear the Filth") have been catastrophic. Thousands of men, women and children are now internally displaced and are living without access to humanitarian assistance, particularly in the rural areas where acute food shortages are looming and humanitarian agencies have had difficulties tracing those in need of assistance.
The United Nations estimates that as many as 700,000 people have been evicted and their houses and properties demolished since the government launched the operation on May 19.
Human Rights Watch said that women, children, persons living with HIV/AIDS and foreign-born residents were particularly hard hit by the evictions. Accounts of the victims share a common thread: all cite a similar process of forced, indiscriminate and often violent displacement at the hands of police coupled with consistent orders to move to rural areas.
"The police are showing no mercy. They were beating us with baton sticks and their boots if we didn't destroy our houses quickly enough," a young woman in Harare told Human Rights Watch about the brutal methods that the police used to evict her from her home. "It doesn't matter, women, children, and elderly people. They were all beaten up. What we want to know is why is God doing this to us."
The evictions have also led to the disruption of scores of HIV/AIDS home-based treatment and care programs around the country. The disruption of treatment programs is likely to lead to resistance to HIV/AIDS drugs and an increase in opportunistic infections. Many HIV/AIDS sufferers are sleeping out in the open or have sought refuge with relatives and charity organizations or moved out to the rural areas where there is little access to antiretroviral drugs.
A home-based care worker informed Human Rights Watch that five of his clients had died in the open in Mutare after being evicted from their homes, "Out of my 20 clients, five have already died while sleeping out in the open. We attended the funeral of one woman who died leaving behind a five-year-old child. They were sleeping in the open. These conditions are not good for already sick people."
The Zimbabwean government claims that the operation was meant to restore order to the cities and dignity to the people. However, as the report documents, there is no rationale that can justify the blatant violation of human rights and the untold misery and chaos that the illegal evictions and demolitions have caused.
"Massive human rights violations have taken place as a result of the mass evictions and demolitions," said Kasambala. "The individuals responsible for planning and executing Operation Murambatsvina must be immediately brought to justice."
Human Rights Watch called on the Zimbabwean government to provide immediate assistance, including alternative accommodation, to all those that have been affected by the evictions. The government must investigate the use of excessive force by the police and other human rights abuses related to the evictions and bring the perpetrators to justice. Human Rights Watch also urged the Zimbabwean authorities to cooperate with local and international humanitarian agencies and accept the terms of the U.N. emergency appeal to ensure much needed assistance for thousands of men, women and children.
U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan should establish a Commission of Inquiry to identify those responsible for planning and carrying out Operation Murambatsvina that violated the human rights of hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans, Human Rights Watch said.
The international community, especially regional bodies such as the African Union and neighboring countries in the Southern African Development Community should exert far more sustained political pressure on Harare to end these abuses and ensure accountability for those responsible for Operation Murambatsvina.
40-page report, "Clear the Filth: Mass Evictions and Demolitions in Zimbabwe," - PDF File (click here to download)zimbabwe0905.pdf
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Sent: Monday, September 12, 2005 7:21 PM
Subject: The IMF

The IMF Decision.

Last Friday the IMF Board met in Washington DC to decide on the future of
the membership of Zimbabwe. We have been a member and a shareholder for many
years and in fact have had a number of IMF sponsored stabilization
programmes during this time. In all its history the IMF has only expelled
from its ranks one other country and that was in the mid 50's. To get
expulsion through, the Board has to first make the recommendation for
expulsion and then has to secure 85 per cent of its membership votes to
endorse the recommendation before expulsion becomes a reality.

So it's not easy to expel a member - especially if they can rely on a block
of States like Africa plus a handful of other maverick countries that will
support the retention of Zimbabwe as a member - no matter how delinquent.

What are the reasons for the decision of the IMF to consider it's ultimate
penalty? The most obvious is the fact that we are not servicing our debt to
the Fund. Last week we were in fact some US$300 million in arrears and had
only been making token payments for a year or so. But we owe everyone
money - PTC owes over US$100 million to its service providers, ZESA owes
money to those who supply us with equipment and spare parts and electricity,
GMB owes money on food imports, Noczim owes money to oil suppliers across
the world.

We have an official external debt of over US$5 thousand million - none of
this is being serviced and no payments have been made to other key
multilateral institutions - the World Bank is owed money, the African
Development Bank is owed money - perhaps more than the IMF in arrears. So
why is the IMF debt so important? The reality is that it is not that
important. Paying our arrears to the Fund would not change our status one
iota - we could not expect IMF support for any sort of stabilization
programme for some considerable time after the issue of the arrears has been
dealt with and a workable recovery programme put in place.

No, the reason why the IMF threat was finally treated with such deference is
mainly political. African leaders - struggling with their image abroad and
with economic and financial problems at home, did not want to see an African
State expelled for misbehavior. South Africa gave impetus to this view when
they offered to settle the arrears themselves to avoid our expulsion.

To some extent the issue is also all about the fact that the Fund is the
ultimate Bankers Banker. A decision to expel Zimbabwe would have formally
confirmed our status across the world as a pariah State. It would have
closed doors to us in virtually every corner of the world when it came to
commercial lines of credit and other forms of financial assistance. It would
have damaged NEPAD and struck a blow against the reputation of other African
States whose position is only marginally better than that of Zimbabwe. Who
would be next, many countries would ask?

In fact the arrears were not the major issue on the IMF agenda in terms of
its relationship with Zimbabwe. What was the real issue was quite simply the
failure by the Zimbabwe leadership to get to grips with the problems that
had resulted in the almost total isolation of the country diplomatically and
the near total collapse of the economy. During successive visits to the
country, the IMF team has asked local Zimbabweans "how do you carry on under
these circumstances?" They looked at the statistics and were astonished that
we were still functioning.

We also wonder how we survive - and obviously this is both an achievement
and a failure, because allowing the whole pack of cards to collapse might
have brought change sooner than it will do in the near future.

And so we have the specter of the Zanu PF regime contradicting itself with
respect to the IMF issue. One minute they do not matter and can "go to hell"
. The next we are scouring the country for our last remaining sources of
foreign exchange to make a meaningless payment to the Fund which will ensure
that we are not expelled but are then left with insufficient resources to
import essentials like food.

Just speculate with me for a moment on what the Fund might demand in a wish
list to the Zimbabwe authorities in order to restore our status as a
functioning and welcome member of the Fund. My own list would incorporate
the following: -

¨                  Zimbabwe must make take steps to end its diplomatic and
political isolation and to restore democratic credentials to its government.

¨                  Zimbabwe must respect the rule of law and the
independence of its Judiciary and it must respect the legal rights of its
citizens and investors.

¨                  Zimbabwe must restore freedom of the press and liberalize
its electronic media. It must dispose of its controlling shareholding in the
Zimbabwe Newspapers Group.

¨                  Zimbabwe must observe all human and political rights as
described in the UN Charter and in its supporting agreements to which
Zimbabwe is already a signatory.

¨                  Zimbabwe must adopt, without delay, a comprehensive
package of macro economic reforms designed to unify both exchange rate and
interest rate regimes, to restore fiscal and monetary stability and

¨                  Zimbabwe must implement a wide range of reforms designed
to strengthen the private sector and the market mechanism.

¨                  Zimbabwe must give urgent and immediate attention to the

It is now too late to rescue the 2005/06 agricultural season and we will
have to wait another year before meaningful remedial action can be taken
in the farm sector.

The IMF decision keeps the pressure on for reform, it gives South Africa
time to exercise its responsibilities in the region and it does not make our
situation any worse. I guess that is a lot to achieve under these
circumstances. What are the chances of Zimbabwe meeting the IMF on all key
issues - zero, under this management. They, like the rest of us will have to
wait for management changes before we can expect any changes for the better.
Mugabe and his sorry crew only offer more of the same debilitating inertia
and Soviet style controls and corruption.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 12th September 2005.
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VOA news
Zimbabwe Film Festival Survives Despite Extreme Hardships

06 September 2005

The curtain has come down on the Zimbabwe International Film Festival, held last week in Harare. While the country's deepening economic problems had an impact on the event, they could not stand in its way.

The organizers of the eighth edition of the annual festival never doubted that it would happen, despite the myriad of problems they faced. Festival director Rumbi Katedza says the biggest hurdle was finding the money.

"It is a hyper-inflationary situation right now in Zimbabwe so the budgets that we made last year or in January have no bearing on what's happening today," she explained.  "They have probably doubled and quadrupled since then and you have to keep your cash flows in check from one day to the next."

Though ultimately the organizers had to downsize some of the festival programs, Ms. Katedza paid tribute to the donor community and Zimbabwean corporate sector support for being able to get the 10-day event together.

One of the programs adversely affected is the very popular Short Film Project, which gives aspiring Zimbabwean filmmakers an opportunity to showcase their talents. This year, one of the short films was sacrificed.  Nakai Matema, who produces the short films, says this was done to avoid compromising the quality of the product.

"We usually try and aim for five, but this year we did four and that goes back to what I was saying earlier about how I had enough money and the budget to do all my five films and then in the space of three weeks the [Zimbabwe] dollar devalued," said Ms. Matema.

Ms. Matema says she invites scripts that deal with contemporary Zimbabwean issues, but many local filmmakers tend to stay with topics that have been well received in the past, such as HIV-AIDS and gender issues.  The most popular feature films made in Zimbabwe dealt with some of those topics.

In addition to money problems, there is also the issue of self-censorship. Filmmakers say privately that, much as they would like to deal with contentious issues, they worry about the possibility of repercussions from the authorities. So they say they play it safe and stick to non-confrontational stories.

But two of the short films this year tentatively broke the mold.  In one, the actors briefly mentioned the recent demolition by the government of thousands of homes, in what officials said was a slum-clearance project.  In the other, there were scenes showing rubble of demolished homes in the background.  Some members of the audience loudly whispered "tsunami, tsunami" during these scenes.  Tsunami is the word many Zimbabweans use to describe the government's demolition campaign, which has been condemned by human rights groups.

The director of the winning entry in the Short Film Project category Brighton Tazarirwa said, although those who put up the money for the project did not interfere with the content, making a film in Zimbabwe can be a major challenge.

"The geography that we are working in is not flexible at all; it does not respect film making as a profession," he said.  "Holding a camera is almost as bad as holding a gun in a public place, there are all these security issues put in place that make it almost impossible for you to operate freely without having to check with authorities every fifteen minutes or so. You really want to concentrate and be relaxed whilst you are making a film."

Festival director Ms. Katedza says, despite the problems facing Zimbabwe, the festival must not be allowed to die. She says she is optimistic the good times will return some day and Zimbabwe's film industry will prosper again.

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The Herald

Commission throws out council’s turnaround document

By Michael Padera
COMMISSIONERS running the City of Harare have thrown out the municipality’s strategic turnaround project document drafted by strategist Mr Chester Mhende on the basis that it is economically unsustainable and insensitive to the plight of the workers.

Instead, the commission has resolved to adopt an earlier strategic turnaround document prepared by former city strategist and now Air Zimbabwe chief executive officer Dr Tendai Mahachi.

The chairperson of the commission running the city’s affairs, Councillor Sekesayi Makwavarara, yesterday confirmed that the commission had rejected the Mhende document in its entirety and instead adopted the Mahachi document, but refused to shed more light.

"Yes, we met and decided against the Chester Mhende document, but adopted the one made by Mahachi,’’ she said.

Mr Mhende has been refusing to talk to the Press on the development.

The rejected document had plunged the City of Harare into potential administrative chaos as it sought to create 25 strategic business units (SBUs) for the cash-strapped council, with each of the units having its board of directors and management executives.

One of the radical prescriptions in the document was that all the workers be dismissed and asked to reapply for their jobs on entirely new contracts and conditions of work, a move which the council employees described as being "insensitive, abusive and highly ambitious".

The latest development comes in the wake of the commission having approved the Mahachi document in March and subsequently held a follow-up meeting on its implementation in Kadoma in May.

On Tuesday, the commissioners held a caucus meeting at Town House with Mr Mhende where it was agreed that his document be shelved.

The commissioners had earlier met the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development, Cde Ignatius Chombo, to register their displeasure with the manner Mr Mhende was carrying out the turnaround project.

A meeting with stakeholders that was scheduled for the previous day, Monday, was subsequently called off.

According to a commissioner, who declined to be named, the commission also observed that Mr Mhende was acting within the confines of a contract he had signed after reaching an agreement with some senior council officials, unbeknown to and without the mandate of the commission, hence the need to draw up new terms of reference for Mr Mhende.

The drafting of terms of reference follow revelations that the commission had rejected Mr Mhende’s ideas well before he was hired.

"Mr Mhende was running around with a preconceived document. That document was rejected by the executive committee before he (Mhende) was appointed. His contract also stated that he should create strategic business units," said the source.

The source added that the commission had hired Mr Mhende "to implement the Mahachi document and not to create a new one".

Meanwhile, council on Monday paid over $28 million for food that was not eaten because of the cancellation of the stakeholders’ meeting that was scheduled at a local city hotel.

The food was brought to Town House on Tuesday, but workers reportedly refused to eat it saying it had gone stale having been kept overnight.

Booking fees were also reportedly forfeited.

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Zimbabwe 'has enough maize for its people'

    September 12 2005 at 08:27AM

Johannesburg - Zimbabweans have been told they will have enough food as maize imports from South African and other countries continue, Zimbabwe's Herald Online reported on Monday.

It said this assurance came from the chairperson of the National Task Force on Grain, Didymus Mutasa, and from Agriculture Minister Joseph Made.

Their comments come after a statement last week by the secretary for agriculture, Simon Pazvakavambwa, that the country was left with three weeks of food.

Mutasa said the country was importing about 15 000 tons a week from South Africa.

This, in addition to some grain coming from other countries and the local market, was enough to feed the nation at any given time.

"What the secretary said is completely untrue and unfounded. I wonder what was his motivation to say such words, which are completely baseless," said Mutasa.

"We are importing an average of 15 000 tons of maize from South Africa and if we add what we get from the local market and other countries, then we will be having enough food to feed the nation at any time." - Sapa
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Mugabe approves Zimbabwe constitution changes-radio
Mon Sep 12, 2005 8:24 AM BST

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has signed into law constitutional changes critics say further entrench his rule, less than two weeks after his ruling party pushed them through parliament, state radio reported on Monday.
The ZANU-PF party used its two-thirds parliamentary majority to approve amendments that allow the government to nationalise white-owned farms and impose travel bans on those calling for military action against Zimbabwe. They will also allow the reintroduction of a second legislative chamber, expected to be packed with the veteran leader's allies.
Zimbabwe radio said Mugabe told students in Cuba, where he is on a state visit, that elections for the Senate -- which the government says will improve the quality of legislation passed in the country -- would be held before the end of the year.
The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has slammed the latest amendments to the constitution, which Mugabe has now altered 17 times since independence from Britain in 1980, as "a serious assault on citizens' basic rights and freedoms".
Changes to land laws will effectively bar white farmers from challenging in courts the seizure of their property under the government's controversial land reform program, which critics say has destroyed commercial agriculture.
Critics say the clauses allowing the government to impose travel bans are yet another tool to suppress opposition to Mugabe's 25 year reign as the country grapples with an economic crisis widely blamed on his mismanagement.
Mugabe says his local opponents have conspired with foreigners to sabotage Zimbabwe's economy over his land seizures, which he argues were necessary to correct colonial imbalances which left minority whites in control of the bulk of the country's prime farmland.

© Reuters 2005. All Rights Reserved.
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Aids programmes affected by Harare blitz
    September 12 2005 at 08:30AM

Johannesburg - Zimbabwe's urban evictions violated the rights of hundreds of thousands of people and disrupted Aids treatment across the country, threatening a new stage in the epidemic, a rights group said on Sunday.

Human Rights Watch called on United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan to investigate the campaign and accused Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's government of blocking UN efforts to help victims.

Zimbabwe launched the evictions in May, using police and bulldozers to demolish shops and residences in urban shantytowns in a blitz that the United Nations estimated cost at least 700 000 people their homes, jobs or both.

Human Rights Watch said the demolitions had exacerbated looming food shortages in Zimbabwe by making it more difficult for humanitarian agencies to identify and assist those in need.

It slammed Harare for blocking the launch of a UN "flash appeal" for $30-million to help those displaced by the evictions, saying Harare's intransigence was further victimising the most vulnerable including children, widows and people living with HIV/Aids.

"Zimbabwe is already in a profound political and economic rights crisis. This latest human rights catastrophe can only push the country closer to total devastation." - Reuters

This article was originally published on page 2 of Cape Times on September 12, 2005
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Daily Echo
Marathon boss backs Williard's asylum bid

by Ceri Rees

ASYLUM BID: Williard Chinhanhu
ASYLUM BID: Williard Chinhanhu

LONDON marathon supremo David Bedford is backing Zimbabwean asylum seeker Williard Chinhanhu's bid to stay in the country.

The former world record holder, whose appearance was lampooned in adverts for the 118 118 directory enquiries service, said it would be "disastrous" for Willard if he were sent back.

Mr Bedford, an influential player in athletics circles, has put his name to a campaign being launched on behalf of the Zimabwean.

Mid-Dorset and North Poole MP Annette Brooke has also asked immigration minister Tony McNulty to give "urgent reconsideration" to Willard's case.

She has asked for restrictions imposed on Willard to be removed to enable him to help coach young athletes in Poole.

Mrs Brooke wants the government to look again at immigration policy which prevents any asylum seeker carrying out even unpaid work within the community.

She, like many of Williard's supporters in Poole, believes he should be allowed to give his services for free to young athletes in the area.

She told Mr McNulty: "Williard is a distance runner of considerable experience and talent and, if he were able to put his knowledge in to use, could be of great assistance to Poole Runners.

"At a time when the government is seeking to enthuse our young people in sports and athletic activity and in the light of the successful Olympic bid, it seems perverse to deny Williard the opportunity to take on a position as a coach, either paid or unpaid, at least over the next six months."

She added: "From the many, many letters and emails I have received, a picture emerges not only of a talented athlete competing for Poole Runners at the highest level, but also of a young man liked and respected by those who have met him."

Mrs Brooke's comments were made on the eve of constitutional changes made in Zimbabwe, which will allow Robert Mugabe's government to confiscate the passports of those deemed to pose a threat to national security.

The UK immigration minister said that he rejected Williard's appeal "without considering its merits", because the runner failed to attend a previous hearing.

Mr McNulty admitted that Williard's non-appearance "may be explained by his failure to receive the notice of the hearing".

First published: September 12

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People's Daily
Zimbabwe earns over 100 million dollars from tobacco this season

At least 66.7 million kg of flue-cured tobacco valued at 108.6 million US dollars have been sold since the selling season opened on April 5, local media the Herald reported on Monday.
The 2005 selling season enters its penultimate week on Monday as it is expected to close on Tuesday next week.
At 66.7 million kg, this season's deliveries are 0.14 percent lower than the 66.8 million kg which had gone under the hammer by the same day last season.
The current season has also witnessed a 19.18 percent decrease in the average price to 1.62 dollars per kg from the 2.01 dollars per kg last year. The fall in average price has largely been attributed to the low quality of the crop on offer.
This year's crop has been affected by low rainfall and late planting which has seen the leaf fetching lower prices compared to the same period last year.
It is expected that around 70 million kg of the golden leaf would have gone under the hammer by the time the season closes.
Of Zimbabwe's three auction floors, Tobacco Sales Floor is the most popular with growers as a total of 19.8 million kg have been sold there followed by Burley Marketing Zimbabwe at 11.3 million kg.
The Zimbabwe Industry Tobacco Auction Center is third in the pecking order accounting for 9.4 million kg.
At its peak in 2000, tobacco production reached 237 million kg,making the country the third largest producer of tobacco after Brazil and the United States.
Source: Xinhua
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IMF Grace Period Won, Zimbabwe Bank Governor Pledges Reform

11 September 2005

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideo Gono convinced the International Monetary Fund Executive Board late last week not to vote to force the country to withdraw from the global financial institution. But he now faces a greater challenge: pulling Zimbabwe’s economy back from the brink of total collapse.

The country’s economy has contracted by an estimated 40 percent in the past five years, inflation is running at 240 percent a year, 70 percent of the population is unemployed, food supplies are down to three weeks, fuel is in critically short supply, and even the central bank is now scraping bottom to muster up foreign exchange.

The IMF board on Friday deferred judgment on Zimbabwe for another six months, during which period the country has been urged to pay debt service arrears standing at $174 million following the recent payment of $120 million which the central bank is believed to have drawn from the hard currency accounts of Zimbawean exporting companies and other holders of available foreign exchange.

The IMF also wants to see meaningful economic reform, especially a reduction in Harare’s massive public deficits and liberalization of export and other markets

According to a statement released by the IMF, the board noted that Harare has taken some steps on exchange rates and monetary policy, but these “fell well short of what is needed” to overcome the country’s economic difficulties.

It cited the “significant risk that unless strong macroeconomic policies are undertaken without delay, economic and social conditions could deteriorate further.”

The IMF board “urged Zimbabwe to adopt and implement a comprehensive and coherent adjustment program as a matter of urgency, in the areas of fiscal, monetary, and exchange rate policies and structural reforms,” and “stressed that providing adequate social safety nets and food security for vulnerable groups, including those affected by "Operation Restore Order" and HIV/AIDS, are also critical priorities.”

Following the decision, senior editor Ray Choto of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe spoke with Reserve Bank Governor Gono about the country’s close call at the IMF and asked him how he plans to stem the decline and reactivate productivity.


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