Thursday, December 21, 2006

No dissent allowed

HARARE, Zimbabwe Dec 20, 2006 (AP)— President Robert Mugabe said Wednesday his government will not tolerate dissent created "under the guise of freedom of expression."....

Mugabe, in his annual state of the nation address to parliament, said law enforcement agencies will continue to crush dissent in the troubled southern African nation. He said government opponents were bent on creating anarchy and pushing what he has described as a British attempt to topple his government.

In September, police thwarted a march by the main labor federation in Harare protesting deepening poverty. At least 16 labor leaders were assaulted by police, several of them suffering bone fractures and other injuries, according to independent doctors and human rights organizations.

Mugabe said afterward the labor leaders were resisting arrest for holding a banned protest and "reasonable force" was used to break up the march.

Britain, the United States and the European Union have imposed travel and visa restrictions on Mugabe and ruling party leaders to protest alleged violations of human and democratic rights since 2000.....

Monday, December 18, 2006

Meet Mugabe's victims

....The people of Zimbabwe could tell countless stories like these three. What's more, men like the three I met--nonviolent political dissenters subjected to torture--were lucky: They were not killed. With international news coverage heavily slanted toward the Middle East and what little space is given to Africa focused on the continuing genocide in Sudan, the crisis of Zimbabwe has been all but ignored. Yet we should not forget about Robert Mugabe. As Holly Moyo says, "He's murdered so many people. His hands are so full of blood."

James Kirchick is an assistant to the editor in chief of the New Republic

Zimbabwe proves Kirkpatrick was right

"...Prompted by the death last week of former United Nations Ambassador Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, I looked up her essay from the November 1979 issue of Commentary magazine, "Dictatorships and Double Standards."

Ms. Kirkpatrick, then a Democrat, excoriated the Carter administration for applying a double standard in its treatment of right-wing and Communist dictatorships. The former, she argued, can eventually be coaxed into democratization (or at least made amenable to United States interests), whereas the latter, with their all-encompassing, revolutionary ideas of upending society and the very nature of humanity, are "unlikely to lead to anything but totalitarian tyranny." ...

Many in the West hailed Mr. Mugabe as a new kind of African leader, one who held much promise.

But only two years into his rule, Mr. Mugabe showed inklings of the totalitarian despot that he would come to epitomize. Between 1982 and 1987, he massacred about 20,000 Ndebele people in the southern region of the country. This massacre has been long forgotten and ignored because it was black-on-black violence. Only when Mr. Mugabe recently went after Zimbabwe's white population, purging productive farmers off their land and forcefully redistributing it to political hacks, did the Western media begin to make him out to be a great international rogue like Hugo Chavez.

Regardless, the radical redistribution of land has had dire consequences for Zimbabwe. Once a major exporter of agricultural products, Zimbabwe has descended into freefall with the world's highest inflation rate (more than 1,000 percent annually), oil and food shortages and increasing political violence.

Although not an explicitly communist regime like Cuba, Mr. Mugabe's Zimbabwe is nonetheless a left-wing dictatorship guided by revolutionary principles...

White Rhodesia was a morally unjust regime whose governing ethos (white privilege) was indefensible on any grounds. But Mr. Mugabe's ethos of governing - the personal enrichment of one man and a radical land-redistribution policy that has left millions starving - is no more justifiable than white racism. In Rhodesia, the government did not massacre civilians by the thousands; the black majority was not starving to death, nor was it digging in the ground for mice as a basic form of sustenance (a widespread practice that I witnessed less than 10 miles from Mr. Mugabe's presidential mansion).

A willingness to support anything in opposition to an unjust political system - especially when the alternative has the distinct possibility of being far worse - is an impulse that we would do well to guard against. That is the lesson of Zimbabwe, and the sage observance of a woman schooled in the ugly realities of the modern world.

James Kirchick is assistant to the editor in chief of The New Republic

Friday, December 15, 2006

Zim police brutality rises

"Police brutality in Zimbabwe has increased since the government began a crackdown against the opposition, two non-governmental organisations say.

The Solidarity Peace Trust and the Institute of Justice and Reconciliation say police brutality under President Robert Mugabe has become routine.

They say Zimbabwe's government has reverted to patterns of state control established under colonialism.

The two NGOs examined the details of 2,000 politically-motivated arrests.

They say that increasing police brutality coincided with the rise of the opposition, primarily the Movement for Democratic Change, led by Morgan Tsvangirai. ...."

Mugabe moves to extend his rule

Zimbabwe's leader Robert Mugabe has backed a plan to extend his presidency by two years until 2010, according to reports in Zimbabwe's state-run media.

The plan is likely to be endorsed during the annual conference of the ruling Zanu-PF party this weekend.

A Zanu-PF spokesman said postponing presidential elections until they could be held at the same time as parliamentary polls would save money.

The president had said he would retire in 2008 after 28 years in office.

Zimbabwe has the world high rate of inflation - more than 1,000% a year and chronic unemployment. ..

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Zim inflation rate 1000 percent

Zimbabwe inflation rate the highest in the world

HARARE – Zimbabwe’s annual inflation rate has reached 1098.8 percent as Zimbabweans braced themselves for a far-from-festive season, reports said Monday.
The new figure represents a rise of 28.6 percentage points on the October figure of 1070.2 percent, according to information released by the Central Statistical Office (CSO) and quoted on state radio.
Month-on-month inflation has reached 30.1 percent, up from 27.5 percent.
Inflation in Zimbabwe is by far the highest in the world and shows no signs of falling, despite Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono’s prediction in January that inflation would plummet to 230 percent by year-end.

Zim's determination inspiring

Read it and try not to gag.

One disturbing thing is that from the article it sounds like they are manipulating American black organizations to support Mugabe.

And they claim "The American Medical Students' Association, the largest medical student group through their global Aids division, has agreed to co-sponsor a resolution showing that Zimbabwe being deprived of humanitarian aid to fight HIV/Aids on political grounds is a violation of human rights.

We are targeting the key medical groups in our community in the US like the Black Nurses' Association, National Medical Association, National Black Leadership Commission on Aids, the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People -- the pioneering civil rights movement in the US) and Nation of Islam's medical directors. "


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

no passports in Zim

Passport office closes“, screamed the Financial Gazette newspaper billboards along Samora Machel Avenue as I made my way to work. It’s just another day in Harare where we get to hear more news about what’s in short supply. We have had fuel shortages, forex shortages and now - passports! One wonders what’s next? I was thinking aloud what would happen if there was a shortage of condoms.

My passport issued in 1998 expires in February 2008 and I began using it in 2004. All along it was just one of those documents that you had to have because you never know when you are going to use it. A colleague has just told me to start applying for a new passport because you never know how long it will take to get a new passport issued! I can clearly state that one of my resolutions for 2007 is to apply for a new passport and make sure that it is issued by December.....

Monday, December 11, 2006

Human rights day: From mourning to hope

December 10th is Human Rights Day, but in Zimbabwe human rights are grossly abused, and the poor, in particular, are ridden over roughshod by the Mugabe regime. 26 years after Independence, there is no respect for human rights in this country.

The American Declaration of Independence written at the end of the eighteenth century, states "….all men are created equal, and are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights…. life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". These are the most fundamental human rights of all.

Today on Human Rights Day, we take just three basic human rights - perhaps the most important ones: food, health care, education - and look at how they fare as we mourn what has become of life in Zimbabwe...

(to link for entire story)

HIV, Malaria link

Malaria wrecks the immune system, making one more likely to die of HIV.

Another triumph for ecology activists, who stopped the use of DDT spraying that had largely wiped out Malaria.

Now, would someone explain why Zimbabwe, whose population lives in highlands where malaria is rare, has such a high rate of HIV?

Friday, December 08, 2006

GM Crops: another green revolution?

One of the tragedies I saw in Africa was a child who became blind from lack of vitamin A.

The Helen Keller foundation estimates "between 250,000 and 500,000 children go blind from a lack of vitamin A in their diet, which also affects their growth, cognitive development and immune system. 70% of these children die within one year of losing their sight, and a total of 800,000 children every year from a lack of vitamin A.

Supplementation with vitamin A capsules is the single most cost-effective health intervention according to the World Bank and other global health experts. It only takes two doses a year to prevent blindness – at a cost of approximately $1.

Yet even that small cost might be prohibitive to some countries, and other countries lack the infrastructure and personnel to give it out properly (too much vitamin A is toxic). And, of course, some children will not go to clinics, or their parents will refuse the medicine.

One solution to this is a new genetically engineered rice, called golden rice because of it's colour. "..Golden Rice is a transgenic variety of rice, which has genes for the synthesis of b-carotene (a vitamin A precursor). These genes are taken from the garden favourite Narcissus pseudonarcissus (daffodil) and inserted into the genome of a temperate strain of rice." The rice has a golden color from the beta carotene (think carrots), and is being offered free to India where blindness from Vitamin A deficiency is common.

The problem? It's not politically correct to artificially insert genes into crops. There is a philosophical opposition to any "genetically modified" food, no matter how benign.

But what is worse is that activists are scaring certain African countries into not using and not importing GM food and seed, even though people are starving in these countries and the food and seed could remedy their dying of malnutrition.

For example, Greenpeace opposed planting the rice because a child couldn't get it's full requirement of vitamin A from rice alone. Presumably, a little is worse than none? But not according to their activists.

A more important question is that if only the genetically modified grain is planted in places like China, the native rice will no longer be grown, and biodiversity will be lost.

There are also worries if the implanted genes might adversely affect animals or humans if ingested constantly.

The ironically named "Friends of the Earth" has persuaded some African countries to refuse rice and other staples needed for starving populations out of fear of being poisoned. And President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, whose economic policies have caused a man made famine, actually was allowed to give a speech at the World Food Summit , and was praised for his opposition to "importing unsafe food" (i.e. food aid that might include genetically modified grain).

Today's Washington Post shows Americans are also uneasy about biotechnology, and most people are unaware that a large percentage of food ingested in the US has either GM food or comes from animals fed with GM feed. "Today, 89 percent of soybeans, 83 percent of cotton and 61 percent of corn is genetically engineered to resist weed-killing chemicals or to help the plants make their own insecticides..."

So, in the practical world, the choices are GM food vs pesticide/herbicides. Poor countries don't have the choice for expensive "organic" food. The result of their "organic" food production is too often famine and malnutrition.

Yet biodiversity is an important issue, but should not be ignored. Indeed, newer rice variants have been devised by old fashioned methods that have many of the advantages of the GM type crops.

As for us, our family grows organic rice and sell it at a premium. One advantage of the "green revolution" combined with globalization is that it has stabilized the food situation in Asia, allowing a growing middle class willing to pay the price.

Yet the yield of our fields is lower than our neighbors, and if everyone went "organic", the poor people would not have enough to eat. And as a doctor who has seen too many children die of malnutrition, I am not one to ignore crops that could be another "green revolution".

Mugabe arrives in Sudan

President Mugabe arrived here yesterday evening to attend the Fifth African Caribbean and Pacific summit which begins today.....The two-day summit will be held under the theme "United for Peace, Solidarity and Sustainable Development".

Thursday, December 07, 2006

NIgeria: Oil wealth not trickling down

Long blog report about Nigeria..

Open the news pages of Nigerian dailies or world news about Nigeria, only very few things would make one smile. Beautiful and handsome but sad faces roam the streets. Unemployment rate may run as high as 70 percent and very high inflation rate makes the case worse. There are conflicting reports on the value of income accruing to the nation that was stashed away in foreign banks by Nigerian leaders. President Obasanjo was quoted in 2002 as putting the total amount of money stolen by African leaders at $104 billion. In an article published by BusinessDay, written by Wale Haastrup the total amount looted by Nigerian leaders was put at $20 trillion. The chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC), Nuhu Ribadu was quoted by BBC as putting the loot by Nigerian leaders since independence at over $380 billion. It is not certain the value of Nigerian leaders’ loot, but one thing that is obvious is that it is enormous.

High number of elected and government officials seem to be misappropriating and siphoning money. Alhaji Ibrahim Hassan, the Accountant- General of Nigeria at the National 5th Seminar on Economic and Financial Crimes spoke on how public servants loot the treasury. Widespread poverty accounts for the bourgeoning rate of crime in the country, which is being exported overseas through Internet or mail scams, popularly known as 419. Desperate Nigerians are finding their way abroad where they are engaged in criminal or illegal activities such as prostitution, fraud, drug and human trafficking.
The Mercury( a South African daily ) November 30, 2006 online issue, carried tears-causing article titled “Italian streets offer no joy, hope for Nigerian women”. The article dealt on the sympathetic plight of Nigerian prostitutes in Italy, who face crushing debt, insults, rape, robbery, and battery. They are reportedly shivery and cold, soliciting customers under extremely cold temperatures and constitute over half the Italian prostitute population.

Most of Nigeria’s earnings are salted away to foreign lands and the people suffer and cry but are held down under one Nigeria...."

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Zim security agents steal teacher's radios

The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe said police and suspected agents of the Central Intelligence Organization, the country's secret police, have been seizing radios donated to union members in the country's Midlands province.

A senior union official said members in the area reported that known CIO agents and police had confiscated the solar-powered radios without justification.

The PTUZ has distributed radios to members in remote areas of the country to allow them to listen to independent news broadcasts from outside of Zimbabwe.

Nongovernmental organizations have also distributed small portable radios to small communities through local contacts who direct radios to those who need them.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Mugabe needs all the friends he can find

October 15, 2006: Angola and Zimbabwe signed a military training cooperation agreement. Angola and Zimbabwe signed a defense cooperation deal in 2002, but there was little follow-through. Zimbabwe is currently looking for allies-- anywhere it can find them. Libya is a nominal ally, but since Qadaffi gave up his weapons of mass destruction, he's been far less agreeable to crossing Great Britain. Zimbabwe's dictator, Robert Mugabe, regards Britain as one of his primary enemies.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Water woes contineu in Zim cities

"...The World Bank recently estimated it will cost some US$10 billion, or Z$2.5 trillion, to completely overhaul Zimbabwe's water and sanitation infrastructure. Harare alone will need more than US$100 million to refurbish its water works and lines.

The World Bank report said the existing system was failing because rates are too low and there is insufficient foreign exchange to buy water treatment chemicals...."

Women activists claim police brutality

"...WOZA said a group about 40 activists were taken to a drill hall in Bulawayo Central Police Station where they said they were beaten and harassed by police before they were finally released. Sibanda said about 25 activists were seeking medical care.In a related development, the U.S.-based Peace and Justice Network of Zimbabweans in exile condemned what it described as brutality by the Zimbabwean police...."

Police in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, lodged charges Thursday against 30 members of the activist group Women of Zimbabwe Arise and its men’s counterpart who were placed under arrest on Wednesday during a protest in the country's second city.

The activists are charged with “interfering with peace or quiet of the public” under the country's Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, legal sources said....

A lawyer representing the activists, Perpetua Dube, said she had managed to secure the release of six WOZA members, all of them women with babies. But Dube said 34 others remained in custody as of late Thursday....


HIV prevention and western activism

I posted an essay on AIDS HERE.

"...According to Human Rights Watch, "Twenty-five years after AIDS was first identified, programs to fight the disease continue to be undermined by conservative ideologies and moralistic approaches." Yet, as one who has worked in Africa, I wonder why, in a world that worships "multiculturalism", why so few criticize the attempt of western activists to impose their own moral and ideological agenda on African societies..."

The rest of the essay points out that destigmatizing promiscuity leads to exploitation of women and boys, not empowerment...

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Zimbabwe now censoring cellphones

Yesterday I wrote about how certain progressive organizations used purple prose to exaggerate what happened in Haiti, and commented that they were making things worse by painting thugs using politics as an excuse for their gangsterism as human rights martyrs.

The "flip" side of the picture can be seen in Zimbabwe, where outside reporters are often not allowed inside to investigate that country, outside NGO's are limited in access even when delivering needed humanitarian supplies, and locals are afraid to write about the problems they face because the mail and the Internet is censored.

Zimbabwe is trying to stop NGO's, churches, reporters and others from doing reporting of the deteriorating economic situation in that country, where the UN estimates half of the 12 million population are facing a food shortage and a shortage of basic supplies due to a lack of currency to pay their bills.

Yet Zimbabwe has enough money to purchase an Internet monitoring system from China to censor the fledgling Internet in that country. The next step:Cellphones

The latest effort to plug holes in reporting the situation is the attempt of the government to
intercept cellphone calls , which the Zim army calls a national security risk.

"We want to listen, to make sure the nation is safe. If we liberalize the gateways then it means there would be a group of people who would communicate without our knowledge," Chineka was quoted as saying by the government-controlled daily Mirror..."

But unlike net censorship or US/EU snooping into groups whose open aim is violent terror against civilians, the censorship in Zimbabwe is aimed at preventing the bad news from getting out.

And the news that comes out is increasingly bad in a country that is going from bad to worse to even more destitute not due to war or natural disaster, but from deliberate government mismanagement and neglect, according to Archbishop Ncube of Bulawayo, who is in London raising money for HIV treatment.

And, indeed, to those of us following the news , the situation is indeed grim. The best workers have already left the country legally or illegally, many going to South Africa. The poor harvests continue, partly due to drought, lack of fertilizer and irrigation and the emigration of the loss of skilled farmers (both black and white), but mostly due to the fact that under the guise of "land reform", the government has confiscated the large white farms that produced much of the food consumed by urban dwellers, and instead of giving the farms to the workers and compensating the farmers, as was done here in the Philippines, the workers were often chased off and the farms awarded to the cronies of the who knew little and cared less on how to properly run a large farming operation.
As a result, Zimbabwe, which for years had exported grain and other agricultural commodities, is now forced to import food, much of it from international donors, since the economy is in collapse and the government has trouble paying their debts.

The situation is deteriorating; the VOA reports United Nations Deputy Secretary General Mark Malloch Brownis worried about the deteriorating situation in that country, and implied he would like the international community to intervene to help prevent the humanitarian crisis and lack of food and essential supplies, and also notes the deteriorating human rights situation.

Walter Mzembi, a ZANU-PF parliamentarian at the meeting, said Brown was misled by biased reporting.

You see, as long as the government can deny the famine and economic problems, they can pretend everything is fine. Hence the increased attempt to stop negative news reports from filtering out of that country.

Sokwanele , a local human rights group, reports not only is the local Zimbabwean press censored, but the South African press has apparently blacklisted certain Zimbabwean reporters and commentators who oppose the government, including Archbishop Ncube.
cross posted to Blogger news network

Zim army says cellphones are a danger to security

Zimbabwe early this year unveiled a proposed law that would give it authority to monitor phones and mail -- both conventional and Internet -- to protect national security and fight crime.

Rights groups say the "Interception of Communication Bill" is part of a crackdown which has included tough policing and political intimidation to stifle criticism of an economic crisis many blame on President Robert Mugabe's policies.

Chineka, who was giving evidence on the bill, said security forces would give their input before the proposed law is passed by parliament, adding that mobile operators should be given at least a month to be connected to TelOne's gateway.

"We want to listen, to make sure the nation is safe. If we liberalize the gateways then it means there would be a group of people who would communicate without our knowledge," Chineka was quoted as saying by the government-controlled daily Mirror.

Econet has the largest subscriber base in Zimbabwe and is in the process of adding a further 300,000 customers before the end of the year to take its client numbers to 800,000.

The company, listed on the Zimbabwe stock exchange, has said that if incoming traffic for customers on mobile networks is diverted to TelOne, private mobile companies would be unable to raise foreign currency to settle bills with operators overseas.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Anarchy: worse than Mugabe?

Two articles on BNN about anarchy.

THIS ONE is about the large private militias in the Congo region.
the United Nations gambled on the penultimate solution of elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). However, the DRC remains at risk because of a failure to provide equal importance to disarming over 80,000 former soldiers and militia....the immediate threat is blunted by the overwhelming military superiority of 17,000 soldiers of the UN Mission in Congo (MONUC), 1200 European Union troops (EUFOR), and the presence of Kabila’s Republican Guard (GSSP), which is estimated at between 10,000 and 15,000 soldiers..The DRC National Commission for Demobilization and Reintegration (CONADER) announced on 8 September that even though more than 76,614 ex-combatants had been demobilized some 85,000 ex-combatants still needed to be demobilized. CONADER, which had exhausted its budget of $200 million, has been expecting additional funds in November but none have arrived.
This is an example of the poor coordination of the CONADER with the elections. Surprisingly, even those who were demobilized did not receive the required funds to reintegrate in civilian life as promised..

Another peacekeeping mission under fire is here:
LINK is about UN peacekeepers being hurt by mobs and vilified by progressive news organizations.

Green groups praise Africa for rejecting food aide

No genetically modified food for Africans.

Better that they starve than eat non politically correct food:

Just as the US Department of Agiculture has ruled that a biotech variety of rice is as safe to eat as conventional rice, the so-called Friends of the Earth (FOE) are trying to frighten African governments into refusing shipments of rice from the United States. FOE periodically launches anti-biotech disinformation campaigns in poor developing countries. FOE rolled out its latest low-down lying deceitful campaign in Africa. In this case, local FOE activists are demanding that Ghana and Sierra Leone recall rice imports from the US because they are "contaminated" with a harmless herbicide resistance gene.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Russians may build power stations in Zim

Harare - A Russian company will soon begin building small hydro-electric power stations in energy-starved Zimbabwe as part of a $150-million deal due to be signed next month, reports said on Sunday.

Construction of the power stations, to be built at small dams around the country by Russia's Turbo Engineering, is due to begin in January, said the state-controlled Sunday Mail newspaper.

South African politician likes what Mugabe has done

"...Looking relaxed and flashing his trademark smile, Mr Zuma demonstrated the warmth and charm that have helped this unschooled cowherd from a rural backwater in KwaZulu Natal rise to be one of the dominant — and, some say, sinister — forces in South African politics. A key figure in the struggle against apartheid, he was imprisoned for 10 years with Nelson Mandela.

Yet his political career has been more controversial. Sacked last year as deputy president over allegations that he accepted bribes from a French arms company, Mr Zuma has refused to lie down and instead mounted a campaign to portray himself as a victim of a conspiracy to prevent his becoming president of the ANC in party elections next year. Whoever wins that contest is almost certain to become president when Mr Mbeki steps down in 2009.

He denied suggestions that the party was split on tribal lines, with his own backers drawn from the Zulu tribe and those of Mr Mbeki from his Xhosa tribe. The passionate support of his followers sprang from a natural sense of justice, not tribal or political rivalry. "What people are protesting about is the apparent victimisation of a comrade — me — by the organs of state," he said.

Even the admission that he had unprotected sex with a 31-year-old HIV positive woman who accused him of rape — a charge of which he was cleared this year — has failed to dent his appeal. When the corruption charges were also struck from the roll in September, it appeared Mr Zuma was unstoppable. "I support Mr Zuma because he fought hard for the liberation of our country and he would do more for ordinary people than the current government," said Bonginkosi Mbhele, 50, as he waited for Mr Zuma's arrival.

But the business establishment is deeply suspicious of him. Azar Jammine, the head economist of the analysts Econometrix, said he knew of many white business people who said they would pull out of South Africa if Mr Zuma were elected. They fear his economic policy would be dictated by his trade union and Communist Party supporters.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has suggested that Mr Zuma should pull out of the presidential race, citing his sexual irresponsibility and the mob antics of his supporters. Mr Zuma said only: "I respect him and I don't think I want to politic with him on this."

As to allegations raised during the trial of his former financial adviser Scahbir Shaik — jailed this month for fraud and corruption — that he had been bailed out by Shaik because his own finances were in a terrible mess and was therefore unfit to be president, Mr Zuma said "no president, no leader in the world" had been subject to this kind of examination.

"I've been in the ANC for decades," he said. "I've had many responsibilities at different levels, including responsibility to handle money and nowhere could you find a record that I was unable to handle money.

"In any case, if one day the ANC says this man will be president, people are not judged by how they manage their personal finances. It is on their understanding of the policies and their responsibilities towards the country."

Mr Zuma's supporters are reported to be targeting weak ANC branches with propaganda material in an effort to build up greater support for his coming campaign...."

Friday, November 24, 2006

Anger mounts in Matabeleland

Mpofu said it is the young people, more militant and vocal than their elders, who seem certain to resist another election won by Mugabe - who has been in power for more than 26 years - and his party.

Tired of their region being neglected and lagging behind in development, several organisations representing the interests of the minority Ndebele people, who have never felt they fully belong to independent Zimbabwe, have mushroomed. The Ndebele, offshoots of the Zulu people of South Africa, constitute about 16 per cent of the 11.5 million population of Zimbabwe: the Shona, concentrated in the north and east, account for about 70 per cent of the population.

Some of the organisations are calling for regime change and will back any party that has a strategy to remove Mugabe from power. Others want Matabeleland to be an independent state. Apart from what they see as the Mugabe's government's deliberate negligence of the region, they accuse the head of state of having attempted to exterminate its people during widespread massacres in the 1980s by his personal military hit squad, the notorious North Korean-trained 5th Brigade.

The 3500-strong 5th Brigade, made up entirely of men from Mugabe's own Shona ethnic group, massacred some 20,000 villagers and tortured and assaulted countless others in a ruthless crackdown on the Ndebeles beginning in January 1983. Mugabe said Operation Gukurahundi (a Shona word meaning, "The early strong rain that washes away the chaff before the spring rains.") had been necessary to weed out Ndebele dissidents who wanted to topple him.

Political scientist Dr John Makumbe, a Shona and a representative in Zimbabwe of the anti-corruption organisation Transparency International, said, "They (the Ndebele) are now more militant and vocal than ever before because of the hardships they have been experiencing. The whole country is in trouble, but they feel that they are worse off. They want to kick out the government and Mugabe."

Makumbe, based in Harare, added, "People in Matabeleland are more united and can mobilise each other more effectively than in any other parts of the country. There is a strong sense of coordination and mobilisation in Bulawayo."

Thursday, November 23, 2006

orphanages, adoption, HIV and Africa part two

This is part two about third world orphanges.

It's been 20 plus years since I worked in Africa, so my information is probably out of date. I'm sure things are now much better, despite the economic declines and HIV epidemic that in 2005 in Zimbabwe alone will take the parent of 160 000 children.

However, when I was in Africa, we did not have orphanages for older children. In the past, there were such places, but the nuns found that the children had so many severe emotional problems that they closed the institutions, although they did arrange school fees for some older orphans to attend boarding schools.

Most of the babies were placed because mom died, either in childbirth or before the child was weaned. Without breast milk, formula was not an option: Very expensive, and mixed with water that often contained the germs that cause diarrhea, which kills infants.

The orphanage that was left was a dull place. The one at a nearby mission had 20 cribs, two wet nurses (who nursed the smallest children) and several nurses aides and nursing assistants to care for the children. But it was a terribly poor place, despite the love and physical care given to the children.

But as soon as the children were weaned--in Africa, because of price of protein rich foods, this is usually aged three or four--the nuns would start searching for families to take them home, and usually one day someone would show up and take the child home.

Few kids had regular visitors, due to the price of bus tickets. But families still kept in touch.

What is happening now is that there are large numbers of children who have lost one or both parents to HIV.

(HIV in Africa is a sexually transmitted disease, but also spread through unsterilized knives and needles used by traditional healers, and, alas, though breast feeding.)

So what happens to these children? Most are taken in by the extended family. But some cannot afford to feed the kids, some come from urban areas where family is unknown, and others are mistreated and abused.

Now, those of us who adopt know that older children have often abused sexually; not just girls, but boys.

Alas, there are now reports of this becoming more common in Zimbabwe.

THIS VOA report discusses a UN report "

Child abuse and particularly sexual predation is on the rise in Zimbabwe, driven by the country's large and growing population of children orphaned by the AIDS pandemic, according to the United Nations Childrens Fund and local child advocacy groups.

UNICEF and a number of child-protection organizations highlighted the extent of child abuse in the country on Sunday, designated the World Day for the Prevention of Child Abuse, and seized the opportunity to raise national awareness of the problem."

What is different here is that, alas, one "traditional treatment" for HIV involves the raping of a virgin. An orphan, without parents or kin to protect them, are the ones most easily abused in this manner.

Local NGO's are working with the government to educate both traditional healers and locals about this myth. They are staging plays that tell the stories from the girl's point of view, and emphasizing that there is no "cure" for HIV, but that there is treatment available.

But not everything is a horror story. The BBC has this story of one orphan raised by a stranger and who was later place in a foster home.

So how does one confront the horror stories one reads about?

When Mother Teresa first went out to work among the refugees and homeless after the partition of India, she saw a man, and she helped him. You cannot save the world, but you can help one child.

Most churches and mosques have charities that send money to locals who are helping orphans. Oxfam and CARE and UNICEF are other good places to start. And many of the tear jerking "adopt a foster child" types help keep children with intact families by paying school fees and other expenses.

If you want information about adoption and the various information about adoption, Adoptive Families website is a good place to start.

So was I wrong with criticizing Madonna's glitzy adoption quest? Yes and no.

The "best" solution is a local home. But when the numbers are huge, and the problem overwhelming, one should admit that adoption by a narcissitic rock star might be the better alternative.
Nancy Reyes is a retired physician who lives in the Philippines with her husband, seven dogs, three cats, and a huge extended family.
Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket. She sometimes posts about Africa on her MugabeMakaipa Blog.

Orphanages and adoption Part one

A few days ago, I blasted Madonna's desire to adopt a matched set of Black orphans for her home.

My criticism was that adoption is not a social statement.

But today I want to talk about adoption from overseas and orphanages.

Now, my sons were adopted from an orphanage. Their parents had died, and so the children were parceled out to friends and relatives. The oldest boy went to work (he was 10) and one of his younger brothers was taken in by his grandmother. Alas, the grandmother died after a year, so he was sent to an uncle, who beat him. The family first got my oldest son to quit work and take him back to the village, but when that plan didn't work, the aunt conspired with a friend to drop them off at the local Catholic orphanage with a story that their parents were dead and the kids were left on the streets. The orphanage did search for relatives, but the uncle either did not worry where the kid disappeared or was too drunk to care, so after six months they were legally free for adoption. I got them because the boys refused to be separated, and I was willing to adopt two older boys.

That orphanage was founded by a Spanish missionary priest and funded from Spain. The sisters who ran it were the usual nuns: the mother in charge the drill sergeant type, but the younger nuns were wonderful and loving. The dormitories were clean. Yet even then, the boys later told stories of being beaten and undressed by the nuns. I'm sure these stories are of normal discipline and hygiene, that got more and more exaggerated with each telling to their eager audiences. But nevertheless, the fact is that they felt inferior and neglected, and a lot of that anger was directed not at God for taking their parents or at their uncle for mistreating and neglecting them, but at the nuns and at me.

Another thing about the orphanage was that most of the children were not up for adoption because they had families. Sometimes their mother was dead, and the father could not care for them. Other times, mother had remarried, and the new husband resented the boys, so they were on the orphanage rather than on the street. Others were true orphans, but like my son had relatives. These children often spent holidays with their families.

A third thing was that this orphanage was for older boys. In Colombia, babies and toddlers are usually adopted. Most babies are taken in by relatives, or adopted by local families, and those that can't be placed are often placed overseas. But for infants, the country had strict rules: Married couples in a stable marriage, under age 50, good health, police background check okay.

How did I get two kids as a single mom? Well, who wants two older boys? They make exceptions for hard to place children, who are usually older boys.

You see, girls are usually easy to place in South America. They are often kept by relatives, or placed in foster homes if they cannot be adopted. You see, a girl isn't much trouble, and there is always work in the house for them to do. (This is not true of Asia, where girls may be more easy to adopt since boys are kept by birth families but girls might be abandoned).

The dirty little fact, however, is that there are a lot of boys end up as street kids in Colombia. The family is so bad that the boys prefer the freedom of the streets. My boys were saved because they were quiet and obedient, but many end up in reform school for stealing or drug use. Many more simply grow up in gangs. And even boys with good families may end up unemployed and getting into mischief after they leave school at age 14 or 16.

Now, all this is about Colombia, where there has been an ongoing guerrilla war for 40 plus years, but where most people go to school, find jobs, have a trained midwife to deliver them, and live to be aged 70.

There is poor, and then there is destitute. Next to Malawi, my sons were fortunate. But that is a story for another column.

Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the Philippines with seven dogs, three cats and a large extended family. Her webpage is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket. She sometimes blogs about Africa at Mugabe Makaipa Blog.

Zim food aid running dry

"...The United Nations agency has been asking donors to provide US $60 million for the Southern African region, but with little result. Zimbabwe needs US$17 million dollars for the "lean season" between this December and March of next year.

In a statement, senior Australian foreign affairs official Tony Parkinson said the aid just pledged comes on top of Australia’s contribution of US$3 million to international humanitarian aid relief efforts for Zimbabwe during 2005 and 2006....

Humanitarian groups said donors are currently riveted by the humanitarian situation in Sudan’s Darfur region, where Sudanese-backed militias have murdered hundreds of thousands of villagers and driven hundreds of thousands more into camps.

But Bulawayo Archbishop Pius Ncube remarked this week that more people are dying in Zimbabwe each week than in Darfur. He said some 3,500 people die each week from what he called a “unique convergence of malnutrition, poverty and aids.”

The WFP said in May that about 1.4 million Zimbabweans would be in critical need of food aid this year. But it was obliged to scale back operations in October to half of the 900,000 people it had been targeting, said WFP spokesman Mike Huggins. ...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Mugabe arrives in Iran for talks

At the end of the visit, the two countries signed agreements to co-operate in transport, power, telecommunications, agricultural equipment manufacturing.

Under the agreements, the two countries were to jointly construct the Chitungwiza-Harare railway line, the extension of Kariba Power Station and establishing a tractor manufacturing plant.

The Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce and the Iran-Africa Co-operation Council also signed an agreement for co-operation between the private sectors of the two countries.

The visit also comes at a time when both countries are under siege from the West --- Iran for its uranium enrichment programme and Zimbabwe for its land reform programme.

The United States and its western allies believe Iran's uranium enrichment programme is ultimately aimed at producing fissile material for nuclear weapons.

But Iran insists it will use the enriched uranium only to fuel nuclear power stations, something it is permitted to do as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Harare undertook agrarian reforms to empower the majority of its people and this courted the ire of Britain, the US and their western allies.

But Cde Mugabe and President Ahmadinejad have stood their grounds in defence of their governments' programmes and resisting foreign interference in the internal affairs of their countries.

Axis of evil indeed...

Monday, November 20, 2006

PReaching a free market to a skeptical Africa

Mr. Shikwati was a young teacher in western Kenya when he came across an article by Mr. Reed on the genius of capitalism. In this isolated village where Mr. Shikwati was raised, life revolved around mud huts and maize, not smokestacks. Still he dashed off a note to Midland, Mich., where Mr. Reed runs a think tank that promotes conservative economics and offers a program teaching others to do the same.

“Do you assist individuals who would like to know more about the free market and individual liberty?” Mr. Shikwati wrote.

Over the next four years, Mr. Reed sent books, reports, magazines, tracts — even occasional sums of money — as Mr. Shikwati embraced capitalist theory with a passion. Then he started a one-man think tank of his own.

On a continent where socialists have often held sway, Mr. Shikwati is now a conservative phenomenon. He has published scores of articles hailing business as Africa’s salvation; offered free-market lectures on five continents; and, defying the zeitgeist of the Bono age, issued scathing attacks on foreign assistance, which he blames for Africa’s poverty. When Western countries pledged to double African aid last year, an interview with an angry Mr. Shikwati filled two pages of Der Spiegel, the German magazine.

“For God’s sake, please stop the aid!” he told the magazine.

So modest was Mr. Shikwati’s start in the policy world, he walked nine miles on muddy roads just to get Mr. Reed’s e-mail messages. Yet nine months after he started his group, Western supporters flew him to the United States, where he joined a dinner of the conservative Heritage Foundation and toasted an A-list crowd that included Edwin Meese III, the former attorney general.

The unusual collaboration between a Midwestern mentor and his African protégé can be read in contrasting lights — as a crafty effort to export Western dominance or an idealistic joining of minds in the cause of freedom. While Mr. Reed salutes his protégé as a “passionate advocate for liberty in an unlikely place,” Jeffrey D. Sachs, a Columbia University professor who is a leading aid advocate, calls Mr. Shikwati’s criticisms of foreign assistance “shockingly misguided” and “amazingly wrong.”

“This happens to be a matter of life and death for millions of people, so getting it wrong has huge consequences,” Mr. Sachs said.

Mr. Shikwati’s group, the Inter Region Economic Network, or IREN, is part of a global span of policy groups that Western conservatives have helped build over the past quarter-century. Operating in as many as 70 countries, with varying degrees of outside support, these institutes push a wide array of free-market prescriptions, including lower taxes, less regulation and freer trade.

Since it's LA Times I hesitate to post more...they have been knwon t sue

PReaching a free market to a skeptical Africa

Mr. Shikwati was a young teacher in western Kenya when he came across an article by Mr. Reed on the genius of capitalism. In this isolated village where Mr. Shikwati was raised, life revolved around mud huts and maize, not smokestacks. Still he dashed off a note to Midland, Mich., where Mr. Reed runs a think tank that promotes conservative economics and offers a program teaching others to do the same.

“Do you assist individuals who would like to know more about the free market and individual liberty?” Mr. Shikwati wrote.

Over the next four years, Mr. Reed sent books, reports, magazines, tracts — even occasional sums of money — as Mr. Shikwati embraced capitalist theory with a passion. Then he started a one-man think tank of his own.

On a continent where socialists have often held sway, Mr. Shikwati is now a conservative phenomenon. He has published scores of articles hailing business as Africa’s salvation; offered free-market lectures on five continents; and, defying the zeitgeist of the Bono age, issued scathing attacks on foreign assistance, which he blames for Africa’s poverty. When Western countries pledged to double African aid last year, an interview with an angry Mr. Shikwati filled two pages of Der Spiegel, the German magazine.

“For God’s sake, please stop the aid!” he told the magazine.

So modest was Mr. Shikwati’s start in the policy world, he walked nine miles on muddy roads just to get Mr. Reed’s e-mail messages. Yet nine months after he started his group, Western supporters flew him to the United States, where he joined a dinner of the conservative Heritage Foundation and toasted an A-list crowd that included Edwin Meese III, the former attorney general.

The unusual collaboration between a Midwestern mentor and his African protégé can be read in contrasting lights — as a crafty effort to export Western dominance or an idealistic joining of minds in the cause of freedom. While Mr. Reed salutes his protégé as a “passionate advocate for liberty in an unlikely place,” Jeffrey D. Sachs, a Columbia University professor who is a leading aid advocate, calls Mr. Shikwati’s criticisms of foreign assistance “shockingly misguided” and “amazingly wrong.”

“This happens to be a matter of life and death for millions of people, so getting it wrong has huge consequences,” Mr. Sachs said.

Mr. Shikwati’s group, the Inter Region Economic Network, or IREN, is part of a global span of policy groups that Western conservatives have helped build over the past quarter-century. Operating in as many as 70 countries, with varying degrees of outside support, these institutes push a wide array of free-market prescriptions, including lower taxes, less regulation and freer trade.

Since it's LA Times I hesitate to post more...they have been knwon t sue

Old Africa

This post is actually a letter from Zambia, but many of the facts are similar to when I worked in Zimbabwe 20 years ago...I post a short excerpt..

An hour after leaving Malone camp, not another person or hut to be seen, we drew up to the maize grinding mill which my sons had repaired two months ago, deposited diesel for the engine, and cement for the laying of a concrete slab, being watched by the friendly villagers from a village unchanged from that of their forefathers. And when one of my men emptied a sack of empty tins and bottles I had rescued from our Malone camp garbage hole, they rushed forward to claim them. Such are the treasures of a people forgotten by the world.

We then drove the short distance up to M’Shalira Basic school: and basic it is. Close to the road, I found the headmaster, Mr Daka, resting in his grass and pole Chitenje, the crumbling and cracked staff quarters standing close-by. We drove up to the school: six classrooms of mud brick and mud floors - one new classroom built of grass walls had been added on, and signs of flooding all around. Children beavered away inside at arithmetic, unsupervised, but as quiet as the surrounding bush.
“My only teacher is away in Petauke to get his pay. We have to go every month to collect it and it takes a week. As you see I am the only one here now, ” said Daka.
“When last were you visited by someone from the Department of Education?”
“Oh, they never come here. They can’t drive. You can see.”
“And the elephant, they give us a hard life here”, he said, waving towards some mangled pawpaw trees nearby.”
I thought of how an elephant can eat 4% of his body weight in a night of garden raiding.
Later I interviewed three volunteer teachers, one a member of the CRB whom I knew, the other the Village Area Group Chairman, part of the group of six with whom I was developing a landuse plan for the 1 million acre area. We settled on K250 000 each per month, the same sum I paid to keep the village scouts employed, unpaid by Government for seven months: $50 each a month; it did not sound much but it would feed them and their families; the villagers after all earned about $.30 cents a day – if that.

Daka showed me the book store-room, which seemed well stocked. Picking up a few work books, mud fell from between the pages. The termites were at work. Looking up at the dividing wall I could see that the bricks would soon fall onto the books....

Friday, November 17, 2006

Late rains dampen hope for winter wheat harvest

Some farmers and agricultural officials may be pleased to see the heavy rains now falling across Zimbabwe, but others are concerned that the downpour could mean an even bigger shortfall than feared in the lagging winter wheat crop.

Authorities had projected a harvest of 220,000 tonnes, but the Grain Marketing Board, a state monopoly, said it has taken delivery from farmers of only 60,000 tonnes.

A GMB official said the rains will not do much damage to the standing wheat crops, as farmers can still harvest when they stop and the wheat dries out.

Many farmers have failed to harvest all their wheat due to fuel shortages and the cost of hiring combine harvesters. One farmer said the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority, or ARDA, charges $55,000 (US$220) a hectare to harvest while commercial harvesters charge $95,000 ($380) per hectare for the same service.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Zimbabwe: The Language of violence

"...“Mugabe uses the rhetoric of revolution to excuse repression,” a prominent liberation war veteran, Wilfred Mhanda, observed recently of the harsh and offensive language that Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's head of state, frequently uses.
As a cabinet minister, Nkomo asked the premier whether reports about the secret training of a private army were true, although they had not been discussed in cabinet. Mugabe retorted with an arrogance and vehemence that has become characteristic, “Who are you? Why should you be consulted?”

Nevertheless, Nkomo soon got his answer in the most horrific of ways. What was to become the Fifth Brigade, a crack army unit answerable directly to Mugabe, was being trained clandestinely in Zimbabwe's Eastern Highlands by more than a hundred military instructors sent from North Korea by the dictator Kim Il Sung in preparation for a ruthless crackdown on the Ndebele people of Nkomo's home provinces in Matabeleland.

The assault by the 3500-strong 5th Brigade on the Ndebeles, in the west and south of the country, began in January 1983. By the time some 20,000 Ndebele villagers had been massacred and countless others tortured and terribly beaten, Mugabe said the operation - launched by Colonel Perence Shiri, one of Mugabe's former guerrilla chiefs - had been necessary to weed out Ndebele dissidents who wanted to topple him.

But many analysts believe the assault was directed at the Ndebele as a whole, not just the radicals in their midst. "Throughout Matabeleland as a whole [dissident] numbers never exceeded more than 400 at the peak of [their] activity," said Zimbabwe historian Martin Meredith of the Ndebele "revolt" in his book "Robert Mugabe: Power, Plunder and Tyranny in Zimbabwe"...

The real motive behind the Fifth Brigade's storm of terror was to cow the Ndebele, destroy PF-ZAPU and establish a one-party state with Mugabe at its head, which he achieved in 1987.

When Catholic peace and justice activists accused Mugabe and Shiri of conducting a reign of terror in Matabeleland that included "wanton killings, woundings, beatings, burnings and rapes [that had] brought about the maiming and death of hundreds of people who are neither dissidents nor collaborators", Mugabe responded by warning a gathering in rural Matabeleland, "We have to deal with this problem quite ruthlessly. Don't cry if your relatives get killed in the process ... Where men and women provide food for the dissidents, when we get there we eradicate them."

Over the years, Mugabe's language has become ever more coarse and callous....

When he launched the brutal confiscation of white commercial farmland in 2000, which plunged the country into anarchy and a spiral of economic decline, he warned farmers who resisted, “We have degrees in violence ...I will be a Black Hitler ten-fold!”

There followed a period when the laws of the land were virtually suspended as Mugabe launched his so-called "fast-track" land reform programme, ostensibly to resettle poor blacks but in reality to destroy what he perceived as the power base of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, MDC - the white commercial farmers and their mainly black workers.

After narrowly winning the parliamentary election of July 2000, which was marked by unprecedented countrywide violence, Mugabe told his ruling ZANU PF congress in the following December, “We must continue to strike fear into the heart of the white man. The white man must tremble.” White farmers were assaulted, tortured or killed on their farms after Mugabe intensified his verbal attack, describing them as "enemies of Zimbabwe who will die" if they resisted the invasions of their homes and properties.

But MDC supporters and farm workers bore the brunt of Mugabe’s fury that an opposition party had dared try to remove him from power. It is estimated that at least 200 people were killed and thousands of others injured in the lead up to the subsequent presidential election in 2002, widely criticised as fraudulent but which maintained Mugabe in power...

n January last year, when three to four million people were desperately hungry as a result of crop failures and the farm invasions, Mugabe refused international food aid for the starving, saying foreigners were "foisting" food upon unwilling Zimbabweans, before adding, "We are not hungry. We don't want to choke on your food."

Targets of Mugabe's hatred are numerous. But while attacking foreigners, white farmers, Ndebeles, political opponents and others, he retains some of his most vindictive rhetoric for homosexuals. He has branded gays "un-Christian" and "un-African" and as "lower than pigs and dogs"....

Monday, November 13, 2006

US elections a lesson for Mugabe

"....To love power is natural, but because of the love of the nation more than individuals, there is harmony in defeat and progress in succession of another political party into government.

I watched with amazement the Canadian government change from Liberals to Conservatives overnight, so to speak, in 2005.

Coming from a country and continent where life is lost because of winning elections over a pre-colonial political party in power, it’s almost taboo to see responsive political behaviour so peaceful and mature.

When a national House of Assembly begin to voice discontent with a government, in western democracies or mature democracies rather, the days of a seating government are numbered unless they perform extra ordinarily well. The term performing extra ordinarily well, would imply to an extent where the electorate would be the judges in a situation....

In congratulating the Americans for running their system with utter most care and achieving results, we must as Africans remind ourselves that political plurality is no more an alien concept but a reality we can scarcely dispense with. It is as natural as building a house without a roof and debating of whether the roof need be asbestos or grass thatched, which is the logistics of wealth and poverty, without however changing the need for a roof.

Free, fair, election is a requisite for Zimbabwe government change

Challenges facing African Entreupeneurs

"....Despite all the obstacles, growth rates across much of Africa are rising and there are successful ventures to be found everywhere from Mogadishu to Dakar.

It is one of those seldom told stories - the success now being notched up by men and women doing business across Africa.

The results are not hard to see.

Economic growth has been running at a very respectable 4% in at least 15 African countries for the last decade. ....

From telecommunications and banking to the export of fruit and flowers, Africa is now finding and cultivating niche markets around the world.

Behind these statistics are stories of initiative and drive to overcome the familiar problems of endemic corruption and mountains of red tape.

Business of politics

Mobile phone voucher salesman in Kigoma, Tanzania
Many entrepreneurs are cashing in on the mobile telecoms boom

The absence of a strong business class at independence for many countries in the 1960s was a major inhibition to growth, argues Teddy Brett, of the London School of Economics.

It meant that fighting to control the levers of politics became a key way of winning economic advantage.

And the results are plain to see.

Doing business in Africa is still hard work, as a recent World Bank study indicated.

It showed that out of the 35 least business-friendly countries in the world, 27 were in sub-Saharan Africa. ...

As if that isn't bad enough, roads are bad, electricity unreliable and skilled labour in short supply.

But if you succeed, the profits can be large.

South African mobile phone company MTN took a risk and invested in a country as notoriously difficult as Nigeria, but has made a tidy profit.

And the business climate across the continent is improving.

Fresh funding

Woman walks across oil pipelines in Nigeria
Critics say too few are benefiting from Africa's oil wealth

Promises made by world leaders at last year's G8 summit in Gleneagles are beginning to come through.

In August, Malawi became the twentieth African country to have its debts cancelled.

And fresh funding is beginning to come through, to meet the promise of doubling aid to Africa by 2010.

This means more money for improving the energy supplies and renovating everything from airports to shipping terminals.

This has provided an environment in which business can begin to grow, and it is a challenge that men and women across the continent are starting to take up.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Zim opposition moves to open unity discussions

The two rival factions of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change are expected to open reunification talks next week, MDC sources said. Executive councils of the two factions met separately on Saturday and approved reconciliation efforts.

But opposition sources said discussions inside both factions were heated with some officials arguing that it would not be possible to patch up intra-party differences after a year spent staking out political turf, poaching members and exchanging barbs.

Nonetheless, the two factions have designated negotiators to pursue the talks.

Representing the faction of MDC founding president Morgan Tsvangirai are Samuel Sipepa Nkomo - a top official for both Matabeleland provinces - policy chief Eddie Cross, women’s chair Lucia Matibenga and legal secretary Innocent Gonese.

Zim court frees 180 women

A judge in Zimbabwe has dropped charges against 180 women charged with taking part in anti-government protests. Members of two groups, Women of Zimbabwe Arise and Men of Zimbabwe Arise, had been arrested during a peaceful demonstration in August.

Once again members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise have been released by the state without charge following their anti government protest march three months ago.

This is the eighth time since WOZA - as the group is known - was formed in 2003 that state prosecutors have been unable to make the charge stick.

This time the state said they held a demonstration in a public place with the intent to cause public disorder or a breach of the peace.

The women were arrested in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city, after they demanded that the government stop changing the currency. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe struck three zeros off the currency in August and issued new notes. It also launched a three-week campaign of arresting anyone found with more than about $30.

Monday, November 06, 2006

China has 1.9 million dollar trade deal with Zim

The summit was seen as strengthening China's ties with Africa and resulted in $1,9-billion in trade deals, plus Chinese promises of aid, debt relief, and increased bilateral trade in the years ahead....

"Despite Beijing's growing concerns about Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's repressive tactics - most noticeably his willingness to literally starve his opposition and destroy the Zimbabwean economy - China has continued to sell the Zimbabwean government technology that enables it to monitor electronic communications," the report said.

Hu met on Friday with President Omar al-Beshir of Sudan, another regime under intense international criticism for widespread killings, rapes and abductions by government-armed forces in the country's western Darfur region.

China has rejected pressure from other countries over its own human rights record as outside interference and refused to apply similar pressure on its African allies. - Sapa-AFP

Zim students in the USA

Zim is the fourth country on the list of who sends students to the USA

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Zim: Guilty of the same sins we condemn in Mugabe

t the risk of going beyond their mandate, they pointed out most of the egregious laws that all opposition parties and civil society groups say need to be repealed or amended. Why should people want the churches to adopt a confrontational position with Mugabe when what is needed is national dialogue? What have all the pseudo-radical formations and political parties that have declared Mugabe "illegitimate" achieved in the six years since the 2000 elections?But there was something even more significant in the prelates' paper. By calling for national dialogue the church has shown that it is looking beyond Mugabe.

Actually, the article is unclear about what it means...and the headline doesn't make sense. The end of the article suggests people read the please?

Friday, November 03, 2006

Money from outside country dries up

Reserve Bank Governor Gono has banned money transfers from outside the country...
money that many Zim people rely on for basic food, often sent by relatives working abroad.

"....Gono last week banned sixteen Money Transfer Agencies (MTAs) accusing them of channeling funds received from the diaspora to the parallel market where rates are better than those offered by the government.

The MTAs were established in 2004 to enable non-resident Zimbabweans to remit cash back home through official channels.

The RBZ chief, tasked by President Robert Mugabe to turn around the fortunes of the country’s anaemic economy, said the cancellation of the transfer licences was meant to shore up the economy in its seventh straight year of recession. ...

The cancellation of the licences, described by analysts as Gono’s “ambush economics”, caught most agencies by surprise fuelling fears that some agencies will go underground and continue feeding the parallel market. ..

... until she finds a way of “beating” the system, Hungwe and thousands of other Zimbabweans are in mourning over the drying of this vital pipeline. - ZimOnline

Human rights campaigner still detained

HARARE – Zimbabwe police were by late Thursday still holding prominent human rights campaigner Lovemore Madhuku and two others who they arrested earlier this week for demanding a new and democratic constitution for the country.
Harare lawyer Alec Muchadehama, who is representing the jailed activists, said he will apply to the High Court if the police fail to release them by end of day today.
“We might have no option but to resort to the High Court,” said Muchadehama.
Police spokesman Wayne Bvunzijena was not immediately available to shed light on when the law enforcement agency planned to release the activists or take them to court.
Madhuku, who is chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) that campaigns for a new constitution, was part of a group of about 150 members of the civic alliance who were marching in Harare demanding a new constitution when armed police pounced on them.
The police severely assaulted the demonstrators who they also arrested. They later released the rest of the demonstrators except Madhuku and two other activists whom the police allege stoned one of their vehicles. -ZimOnline"

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

zim gov't cracks down on dissent

"...(New York, November 1, 2006) � In reaction to a recent wave of protests against deteriorating social and economic conditions in the country, the Zimbabwean government has intensified its campaign to suppress peaceful dissent, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.
The 28-page report, "'You Will Be Thoroughly Beaten': The Brutal Suppression of Dissent in Zimbabwe," reveals the repressive tactics that the government has used against civil society activists in the past year.

Human Rights Watch has documented systematic abuses against activists, including excessive use of force by police during protests, arbitrary arrests and detention, and the use of torture and mistreatment by police and intelligence officials.

"When Zimbabweans engage in peaceful protest, the government responds with brutal repression," said Georgette Gagnon, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "The authorities use torture, arbitrary arrest and detention to deter activists from engaging in their right to freely assemble and express their views." Political, social and economic conditions in Zimbabwe have deteriorated considerably in recent years.

Civil society organizations have increasingly expressed concerns at the worsening conditions by engaging in peaceful protests and demonstrations.

The government's response has been heavy-handed and brutal. Police have violently disrupted peaceful protests by beating demonstrators with batons and in some cases rifle butts. On September 25, for example, police violently disrupted a peaceful march by some 500 activists from the National Constitutional Assembly in Harare.

Riot police armed with batons stopped the march, asked the activists to sit down, and proceeded to beat them one at a time with batons before ordering them to leave. During the beatings, a number of people panicked, which led to a stampede that injured about 24 people, seven of them seriously.

Police have also used laws such as the Public Order and Security Act and the Miscellaneous Offences Act to justify the arbitrary arrest and detention of hundreds of civil society activists around the country. After arrest, most of the activists are released within hours, but some are held for days, often without charge. Others are brought before the judicial authorities to answer charges that, in many cases, are dismissed by the courts.

Civil society activists who had been detained told Human Rights Watch that they were often held in overcrowded and filthy conditions, with human waste on the floor and blankets infested with lice. The activists have sometimes been denied legal counsel and access to food, water and needed medical assistance....

Third world church

A previous post was about churches trying to have the government reform itself, using beautiful but vague language.

In Africa, however, the problem is poverty, HIV, the reversion to the worst of paganism, economic stagnation and political problems.

Sister Maggie sent a new letter, where she relates how her new, charismatic community is trying to re establish their ties with the local Catholic church:

May I take this opportunity to let you know that at
long last we now have a Bishop in our diocese. His
name is Bishop Martin Munyanyi. He saved for many
years as a rector at the major seminary (Giving
lessons and monitoring the training of seminarians. He
was ordained Bishop on the 26th of August.

Sr Martha, our oldest and latest addition made an
appointment to see him last month. She had previously
worked closely with him before. She explained how we
were banned from attending mass and how she was
expelled from S.J.I. The Bishop had a very different
and distorted version of both incidents, he also asked
about the five suspended priest and one deacon. The
Bishop asked Sr Martha to ask the expelled priest to
come and see him.

About our case all he said was that we should pray for
him so that God may show him how best to resolve the
case. What is most important is that he was able to
sift the truth from lies, and he supports what we
stand for. He said that he is going to do everything
in his power to see that we go back to church. He said
that at present, there is a lot of speculation going
on especially about how he is going to handle our
case. He thinks it best to ignore it and concentrate
on many other issues wanting his attention. He said
keep on praying and be patient. Dr Nancy I am very
happy. We are all very happy about this turn of

One of the expelled priests went to see the Bishop.
They had a good time together and he said their case
was much more complicated since it involves the most
senior Bishop Bhasera. All he said was that, now that
he is armed with correct facts he is going to make use
of them when ever the issue is discussed at the many
conferences held by Bishops. We are all not very much
concerned with how long it will take we are just happy
that the Lord has a very willing instrument in him.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Photgraphic essay: A day in the life of Africa

go to link for photos

UN Criticizes rich nations for failing Africa on food aid

"...A United Nations agency has criticised rich nations for failing to meet pledges for financial assistance as it warned that millions of people in southern Africa face food shortages.

Some 4.3 million people in southern Africa will now have to go without the aid earmarked by the World Food Programme (WFP), which blamed a £30 million gap in funds for the cuts, reports Reuters.

The cutbacks will affect mother and child nutrition centres, school feeding projects and schemes targeting HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis patients, for whom nutrition is key in boosting immunity to diseases that have ravaged the region.
Around 1.4 million people were found to be in "critical need" of food aid in Zimbabwe, where the WFP said it had already been forced in October to scale back help to about half of the 900,000 people in need.

The food deficits in troubled Zimbabwe have been blamed by critics on drought and an exodus of the country's most productive commercial white farmers who fled the government's controversial land reform programme...

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Churchmen propose national vision for Zim


The church group said the document was prepared based on extensive consultations with civil society organizations and opposition politicians, and examined issues such as land reform, the economy, the constitution and possible national reconciliation.

The church leaders said their main recommendation was the opening of a discussion involving all of the country's stakeholders. But some in the opposition have criticized the church initiative, saying its leaders have let Mr. Mugabe manipulate them. The organization invited the president to a prayer rally earlier this year.

Mr. Mugabe and his ministers said they would examine the document carefully. But one source present at the meeting described the president’s response to the paper as “lukewarm,” in particular with respect to its call for a rewrite of the constitution..."

Now, if the churchmen really wanted to make a proposal to save zim, the document would be would say:

Quit, you A.....

China doesn't interfere with internal affairs, so that's why Mugabe loves her

"...China was the main supporter of Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party in the 1970s when it waged an armed struggle to free the country from colonial rule, said Mugabe, adding that the ties between Harare and Beijing have since been ever-lasting...

Zimbabwe has been under sanctions by western countries, led by former colonial power Britain, for allegedly undermining democracy and human rights. Mugabe denies the charges, saying they were only a smoke screen for London's opposition to his government's seizure of farms from white farmers for black resettlement.....

Harare has come up with a "Look East" policy, centered around renewed, broader engagement with China and other Asian countries, which Mugabe said could be an alternative economic cooperation partner to the West which Zimbabwe had lost....

The major reason for Zimbabwe to value its ties with Asia is that Asia is home to the most population in the world, Mugabe said.

"China and India put together, plus other states there (in Asia), they amount to the largest percentage part of the (world) population," he said.

"And secondly, we said these were the friends we relied upon during the liberation struggle and they will not let us down," he added.

Mugabe chronicled China's assistance, in various forms, to his country over the years, declaring: "For Zimbabwe, going to China is going to our second home. We regard China as a part of us."

In the twenty-six years after Zimbabwe's independence, China has financed a variety of infrastructure projects in the country, including construction of roads, hospitals and stadiums.

Just last week, China extended a 5-million U.S.-dollar loan to Zimbabwe to refurbish the nation's biggest stadium, built several years ago by a Chinese company.

Mugabe also spoke of China's military assistance to Zimbabwe after its independence, which he said had made Zimbabwe less vulnerable to manipulation by the West.

But he said the main focus now would be economic cooperation, noting China recently offered Zimbabwe 200 million U.S. dollars to finance agricultural production in the country, and Zimbabwe's acquisition of three MA-60 passenger planes from China....

China, keen to secure strategic natural resources to help sustain its mouth-watering economic growth of more than 10 percent, is investing heavily in agriculture and mining in Zimbabwe. Chinese investment in Zimbabwe is estimated to be billions of dollars..."\

Ah, but someone should remind Mr. Mugabe "There is no such thing as a free lunch".
Chinese ties will have to bring back money or they will stop investing.

And someone should warn China that "if you feed and care for a dog, he will not bite the hand that feeds you; that is the difference between a dog and a man"...

Mugabe is trying to nationalize the mainly South African funded mines. If he will steal from his main support on that continent, why does China think they will be immune to having their businesses confiscated?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Using plays to educate traditional healers

Too depressing to post...trying to educate traditional healers NOT to tell men to rape virgins to be cured of HIV...

More white farmers face eviction in Zim

"....n September ZimOnline reported that the Zimbabwean government had renewed seizing white-owned farms, despite official statements that the process had ended.

"Your farm has been acquired by the government and we therefore request you to wind up your business before the start of the rainy season," Masvingo provincial governor Willard Chiwewe wrote to local farmer John Sparrow.

"You are advised to comply with this order since you risk being forcibly removed ... We also take this opportunity to tell you that you are not allowed to move out with any of your farming equipment," the letter added.

This was despite the government saying that farm evictions had ended as it was concentrating on raising production on land already acquired from whites.

Influential Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono, as well as vice-presidents Joseph Msika and Joice Mujuru, on separate occasions this year publicly called for an end to farm evictions.

A former official of the white-representative Commercial Farmers' Union in Masvingo, Mike Nickson, described the situation as unbearable. Farmers had no option but "to surrender our properties in order to save our lives", he added.

Under the government's land-seizure laws, a farmer cannot challenge the expropriation of his land by the government in court and faces jail for removing equipment from the farm. -- Sapa-AFP

Mortality of children under five rises

"..Reports from Zimbabwe's Central Statistical Office and the United Nations Children's Fund, or UNICEF, show a significant increase in early childhood mortality.

The Statistical Office’s Demographic Health Survey report shows that child mortality rose from 59 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1985 to 102 for every 1,000 live births in 1999. A UNICEF report said that the under-five mortality rate continued to rise in more recent years, to 129 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2004.

Health and Child Welfare Minister David Parirenyatwa was quoted in the government-controlled Herald newspaper Tuesday as saying the rising death toll could be blamed on prohibitive hospital fees....

...Dr. Henry Madzorere, secretary for health in the opposition Movement for Democratic Change faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai...said many factors have contributed to the rise in child mortality, but the poverty and malnutrition resulting from Harare's economic policies are the most important...."

Zambia exports maize to Zim

"... ZAMBIA has exported 100 tons of corn to its food-starved neighbour, Zimbabwe, worth $24.8m, it has been revealed.

Ben Kapita, Zambia's Agriculture Minister said the sale was aimed at helping Zimbabwe, once southern Africa's breadbasket, but now critically short of food including maize, the national staple..."

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Air Zim ticket prices rise 500 percent

Bad news: Prices up 500 percent.

Good news: It's a lot lower than the inflation rate, which is 2000 percent

Friday, October 20, 2006

Massacre causes old wound that still inflames political tensions

"...A government spokesman's remark that he has no regrets over the masscare of about 20,000 people by Zimbabwean security forces nearly 20 years ago is reopening old wounds and pitting the country's deputy president against President Robert Mugabe.

ZANU-PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira made the comments during a recent workshop in Manicaland Province, bordering Mozambique, almost two decades after a five-year reign of terror in the southern provinces of Midlands and Matabeleland by Zimbabwean soldiers of Five Brigade, who were trained by North Korea....

Shamuyarira's recent statement that he had no regrets about the killings raised the ire of vice-president Joseph Msika, whose politics are rooted in Nkomo's PF-ZAPU....

A grouping of people affected by the 1980s genocide issued a statement condemning Shamuyarira for trying to inflame ethnic divisions among Zimbabweans.

"By claiming that Gukurahundi soldiers were protecting the people, when exactly the opposite happened, is not only false but very provocative. The people of Zimbabwe cannot be blackmailed any more by such tribally motivated chauvinism, meant to mask murder, rape and brutality. It is our sincere belief that the crimes and sins of Gukurahundi fall squarely on the perpetrators and their apologists, and are not transferable to all Shona-speaking people - as the cunning tribalists would want in order to create ethnic animosities," the statement said....

Zim trade unionist receive award for courage

"...Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions Second Vice President Thabitha Khumalo has received one of four Window to the World Awards bestowed by Britain's Women of the Year organization and sponsored by glass products manufacturer Pilkington.

The Window to the World award recognises women who have worked in dangerous and intimidating environments. The trade unionist has been harrassed by police on a number of occasion while working to advance the rights of women and workers..."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Hunger, evil spirits and Apostolic preachers

Summary: Lots of malnutrition.

Now, in Mashona society, when someone gets thinner and thinner, it is often attributed to witchcraft...also many diseases are attributed to witchcraft.

And with malnutrtion increasing, we see the "apostolic" preachers filling the void of traditional exorcism in place of the n'anga..."apostolic" churches combine African beliefs (polygamy, faith healing via ceremonies) with Christian/biblical beliefs.

zimbabweans flood across limpopo

"...All along the border, police arrest Zimbabwean migrants who fail to verify their identity or legal status, often assaulting them and extorting money, according to a new report by the international rights watchdog group Human Rights Watch.

Many people drown or are taken by crocodiles, as they attempt to cross the Limpopo under cover of darkness; some are crushed to death by elephants. The river was memorably described by Rudyard Kipling as the "great, grey-green, greasy” Limpopo but in 2006 it is a wild zone of people-smugglers, corrupt security forces and a never-ending flow of illicit human traffic across the water.

The report, "Unprotected Migrants: Zimbabweans in South Africa's Limpopo Province", said Zimbabweans continue to stream into South Africa to escape their own country's deteriorating economic and political conditions. It said the vulnerability of the estimated 1.2 to three million Zimbabweans now living in South Africa is made worse by their frequent lack of legal status, effectively making them refugees...."

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Using Africa as a publicity stunt

As pop stars flock to Africa, camera men and reporters in tow, is there short term largesse actually helping anyone?

"...."We're talking about building constituencies of interest," says Jeannie Zielinkski, country director for the international aid group CARE, responsible for aid programs in South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. "If I made a funding appeal myself, I would only be singing to the choir, those who already care about Africa. How effective is that? But you get a celebrity singing a totally different song, reaching a much wider crowd, to me that is really useful."

What stars have done for Africa

In the troubled Sudanese region of Darfur - where hundreds of thousands of Sudanese have been killed, and millions of refugees live in makeshift camps - actors George Clooney, Don Cheadle, and Mia Farrow have visited, raised money, and spoken before Congress on the need to stop what many see as a genocide of Sudanese minorities.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Jessica Lange and Angelina Jolie have visited burgeoning camps of people displaced by a decade of civil war, where perhaps 4 million were killed.

British pop singer Bono, of the rock group U2, has set up a Washington-based pressure group called DATA, which lobbies in the halls of Congress and in European capitals for debt relief among Africa's poorest nations. He's also launched high-end "ethical clothing" labels that promise fair working conditions in African textile factories....

Aside from emergency relief - such as the famines in the Horn of Africa, the tsunami in Indonesia, and the earthquake in Kashmir - donors need to completely rethink how aid is given, says Ross Herbert, a political analyst at the South African Institute for International Affairs in Johannesburg. He says much more aid needs to be directed toward helping African economies become self-sufficient.

"The best way to help fix the lives of women is to get them jobs," Mr. Herbert says. "Bob Geldof [the rock star who organized the Live Aid concerts of the 1980s] came back to Africa 20 years later and asked what had changed. He was appalled."

"I think too much aid is based on the donor nations and agencies wanting to look good, so they choose the most poverty-stricken place and try to alleviate the conditions there," says Herbert. "That might make them look good, but it's not doing something to fix Africa."

"Look, it's nice for [celebrities] to come and donate money," says Frank Maphutha, manager of a dry cleaning business in Johannesburg. He cites the rare positive example of Ms. Winfrey's school for children in Soweto, but adds that, "We need to see how the money is being used. I want to see the results."...

Zimbabwe ZCTU beatings

Friday, October 13, 2006

The most incredible lies

"....ERIC Schmidt, chief executive officer of Google, the world's most popular Internet search engine, has predicted the advent in five years' time of revolutionary new computer software that will -- hopefully -- make politicians think twice about what they say....

The existence of the online world had given ordinary people the power to challenge governments, the media and business.

My first reaction upon reading about this development was to feel deprived because Zimbabwe has neither the infrastructure nor the requisite levels of computer literacy to make it feasible for voters in all parts of the country to go online.

But then again, I soon realised that this new software was redundant in this country. Zimbabwean politicians have become so brazen about telling what legendary British statesman and orator, Winston Churchill, termed "terminological inexactitudes" that what the people in this country need is a device that would help them to recognise the rare occasions, if there are still any, when they are not being taken for a ride....
( here he mentions the health reforms, which weren't implemented, and the land reform, which benefitted only the rich cronies of the government)...

The point is that in those countries where government officials still accept that the electorate has the right to scrutinise, question and challenge their utterances and actions, a minister would not have the cheek to invoke a previously unknown legal dispensation to justify sweeping such a serious matter under the carpet. If Mpofu belonged to a government that still cared about the rights of the people, he would have known he would be challenged to say why the icala kaliboli concept cannot apply to all Zimbabweans suspected of breaking the law....

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Fury at Mugabe Approval of Police Beatings

"....Ordinary Zimbabweans are angry with President Robert Mugabe for what many are describing as unforgivable and irresponsible statements he has been making following the bone-breaking assault last month by his security forces on national trades union chief Wellington Chibebe and other top union leaders.

"Addressing a rented crowd bussed to Harare Airport, on his recent return from addressing the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Mugabe said he would continue to sanction the beating of labour leaders who disregard police orders.

"Rejecting widespread international condemnation of the assaults on the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, ZCTU, leadership, Mugabe said his government has no apologies to make. "There are some [foreign countries and human rights groups] who think we are not independent, who think they can organise demonstrations and look for pot-bellied people like Chibebe to demonstrate.

"We cannot have a revolt to the system. Some are crying 'We were beaten up'. Yes, you were beaten up. When the police say move, move. If you don't move, you are inviting police to use force."........

.....Elsewhere, Joram Nyathi, editor of the weekly Zimbabwe Independent, one of the few remaining non-government newspapers, wrote in his regular column, "Who will protect us from a vengeful police force so emboldened by a culture of impunity that they can break people's skulls in broad daylight without any fear of prosecution?....

..."Police brutality has become the norm, especially among ordinary civilians who take the beatings for granted," wrote Nyathi. "When a president extols the virtues of police savagery it fills me with a sense of dread. Zimbabweans must be afraid, very afraid indeed. Mugabe has just opened for us the gates of Hell."

One prominent critic, however, said the trade unionists' attempted protest had been "just plain dumb". Professor George Ayittey, writing in the Zimbabwe Independent, said, "ZCTU leaders don't seem to have learned anything at all from their own experience or that of other African countries. Just because protest marches worked against the white colonialists, who were 'frightened' by a huge mass of black people, does not mean they will work against black neo-colonialists."....

Whatever happened to Didymus Mutasa?

....Between 1980 and 1990, Mutasa maintained his reputation as a fair man, full of charm and integrity as parliamentary speaker.

A major transformation was apparent by 2000 when Mugabe, furious that white commercial farmers had funded the opposition MDC, incited his supporters to invade farms and drive off their owners, triggering a catastrophic and continuing economic collapse.

In that same year, Mutasa was appointed anti-corruption minister. He stayed in the job for three years watching and doing little as a wave of alleged corruption swept higher and higher through government and the top reaches of the judiciary, defence forces, police and civil service.

Once profitable commercial farms confiscated from whites were among the main prizes taken by the new elite. Mutasa appropriated one of these farms in eastern Zimbabwe for himself and independent newspapers documented extensively how he and other ministers looted other farms of billions of Zimbabwe dollars worth of expensive equipment for resale or use on their own properties.....

... and less than a year later he became the second most powerful man in the land when Mugabe appointed him minister of national security and land affairs, positions that made him chief of the much feared Central Intelligence Organisation, CIO, and gave him responsibility for the country's controversial, chaotic and violent land reform programme.

In May 2005, in one of the earliest exercises of his new powers, Mutasa launched Operation Murambatsvina [Operation Drive Out the Filth], in which soldiers, police and government militias used extreme violence to destroy the homes of hundreds of thousands of poor people on the outer edges of the country's towns and cities. Mutasa presented Murambatsvina as a regeneration and renewal scheme to "clean up" urban areas. But most people who lost their homes were opposition supporters, and nearly a year-and-a-half later virtually nothing has been done to provide new homes for the estimated 700,000 to a million people who watched their houses being bulldozed, sledgehammered and set ablaze.

Anna Tibaijuka, the special envoy of United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, lambasted Mutasa's operation as inhuman and a breach of national and international human rights laws.

Emboldened by the "success" of Murambatsvina, Mutasa, with the power of the much-feared and ubiquitous CIO as his weapon, began threatening to "physically eliminate" government opponents. To this end, he was accused by the remaining independent press in Zimbabwe of slapping a police officer in his home constituency of Rusape and of assaulting a man who dared to challenge his nomination as the ZANU candidate for Rusape.

When Walter Marwizi, a reporter for the independent weekly Zimbabwe Standard, investigated alleged corruption in the national security minister's home province, Manicaland, Mutasa threatened the journalist, "I will deal with you ruthlessly if you don't tell me your source [of the corruption story]. Make no mistake. I am sending my operatives and they will do a clean job."

Quietly, in recent weeks, Mutasa has relaunched Operation Murambatsvina, with yet more humble homes being torn down in urban suburbs by powerful organs of state.

Mutasa, who had once worked with Clutton-Brock, the Haddons and other devout white liberal Christians, to carve out an island of tolerance in a sea of bigotry and small-mindedness, regularly describes the handful of remaining white farmers as "filth" and recently vowed, "I will rid the country of remaining whites."

But when venting his ire he does not discriminate racially. Nobel Peace Prize winner and South African national icon, Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, accused the Zimbabwe government of "making a mockery of African democracy." The CIO chief spat back, "Tutu is a puppet of the West, a vassal of imperialism and a lost soul."

Mutasa dismissed as another lost soul the Zimbabwean most widely tipped to succeed Tutu as a Nobel Peace Prize winner - Pius Ncube, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo, who has said the greatest service Mugabe can perform for his country is to let "the Lord take him away".

When Archbishop Ncube protested against the government for neglecting families who were starving to death in and around Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second city, Mutasa replied, "A heathen man who lies through his teeth …The cleric has a psychological disease and needs to have his head examined because he is a liar."

Mutasa's most recent exploit was to launch his CIO and other security services against the country's trade union leaders as they prepared to demonstrate on the streets in September this year for living wages and proper anti-retroviral drug support for the millions of Zimbabweans facing death from AIDS. National trades union chief Wellington Chibebe and his top lieutenants sustained broken limbs when they were assaulted, without being charged, in a notorious police station and torture centre on the outskirts of Harare....
Free hit counters
Free hit counters