Monday, January 30, 2006

Zim can't buy vaccine to stop cattle disease

The lack of foreign currency to buy animal vaccines has led to the outbreak of a variety of highly contagious cattle diseases in Zimbabwe that are threatening to spread throughout Southern Africa.

Controllable livestock diseases like blackwater fever, heartwater and
tick-borne diseases have drastically reduced Zimbabwe's national herd from
around six million in 2001 to less than 250,000 today.
The government is remaining tight-lipped about an outbreak of contagious
bovine pleuro-pneumonia (CBPP), or cattle lung disease, which was reportedly
detected in the northwestern district of Tsholotsho in Matabeleland North
province two weeks ago. Joseph Made, Minister of Agriculture said he had not received any conclusive information.

The reported outbreak has caused alarm across Southern Africa. Last week
Botswana ordered its department of veterinary services to go on full alert
to prevent a spillover of the disease, as has been the case with previous
foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreaks in Zimbabwe.....

no more Village health workers


A village health worker in the rural district of Chimanimani in eastern Zimbabwe, Mushambi, 51, is one of a fast dwindling breed of dedicated community workers, credited with helping make health accessible to even the remotest village but who now face "extinction", thanks to a severe economic crisis gripping the southern African country for the last six years.

The economic crisis, worsened by acute food shortages threatening a quarter of the 12 million Zimbabweans, has spawned shortages of electricity, fuel, essential medical drugs and just about every basic survival commodity because there is no hard cash to pay foreign suppliers.

With President Robert Mugabe's cash-strapped government forced to divert resources to the importation of key commodities and to servicing mounting debts to the International Monetary Fund, other areas and needs not considered immediately critical have suffered.

Among these have been the village heath workers who now have to go with virtually no support from the authorities in Harare. This,.... ironically at a time village health workers are most required to help combat increasing malnutrition-related diseases because of hunger and not to mention a burgeoning HIV/AIDS crisis that is killing at least 2 000 Zimbabweans every week.

"You know, we even used to get bicycles from the Ministry of Health to use to travel around the villages," Mushambi said, a distinctive yearning for the good old times unmistakable in her voice. And then in a much subdued and drier tone she added: "That was then, nowadays you have to organise your own transport to visit the sick."

The lack of gloves, drugs and other material support aside, Mushambi said the little allowance the government pays health workers was most disappointing even for those like her still wishing to soldier on with their work for the good of their communities.....

Read it and weep...We used to train such workers...they could do simple wound care and treat diarrhea, and screen for malnutrition...and give simple advice and medicines...
Our workers were funded by Oxfam, however, not the government ...

Zim has brownout

Zimbabwe plunges into darkness!

January 29, 2006, 14.02 HRS BST

Candle nation... ZESA says "the problems should be solved by the end of next week"! Copyright ©

HARARE - The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority plunged the cities of Harare and Bulawayo into darkness for about four hours on Friday evening, saying it has been forced to make power cuts because of a 'power shortage'.
Zesa spokesperson, Obert Nyatanga, said : "We introduced load shedding in some parts of Harare and this also affected other parts of Bulawayo suburbs.

"Eskom was experiencing problems with its own generators, so we ended up having a shortfall of 400 mega watts which resulted in power shortages."

He added that the problems should be solved by the end of next week: "We have taken one of our generators... for repairs in preparation for the winter peak electricity demands.

Actually, the headlines seems see, we have rolling blackouts here in the Phlippines all the time, usually in the hot season just before the monsoon rains when the water levels are low so we can't get enough hydroelectric power generated to cover everyone's airconditioner running...

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Learn Mandarin

Only half of Chinese actually speak Mandarin, but Mugabe will kowtow to his Chinese friends by forcing college students to learn Mandarin...

Johannesburg, 26 Jan. (AKI) - Students at all Zimbabwean universities will later this year be required to learn to speak and write Chinese, Zimbabwe's education minister has announced. The decision is part of Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe's offensive to promote his "Look East" policy, minister Stan Mudenge said. There was a "compelling need" to bring the peoples of the two countries together, Mudenge was quoted as saying by the Johannesburg daily, The Star.Zimbabwe is seeking to strengthen its ties with China to offset Western sanctions imposed on Mugabe who has been accused of persecuting political opponents.But Zimbabwean students who have been told to become fluent in tongue-twisting Mandarin, are outraged by the veteran leader's decision."It seems they are trying every political gimmick to lure the Chinese into this country to bankroll their bankrupt regime. But they should not do that at the expense of students," Washington Katema, president of the Zimbabwe National Association of Student Unions, was quoted as saying by The Star.

Zim seed shortage

SEED Co Ltd, the country’s leading seed producer, says it expects seed production to decline further this year due to the dearth of agricultural inputs. “There will not be a drought in Zimbabwe this year but seed production will be hampered by the shortage of agricultural inputs,” Pat Devenish the chief executive of Seed Co said


GOVERNMENT has started lining up excuses to exonerate itself from yet another seemingly lost agricultural season this year.

Though the season has been marked by above normal rainfall, international organisations have forecast even more acute food deficits for Zimbabwe due to government’s tardiness in availing inputs and draught power to farmers.

The Famine Early Warning System Network (Fewsnet) this week warned that the country would face more food shortages this year due to lack of preparedness and shortage of farm inputs such as fertiliser, fuel for draught power and seed to complement the goods rains.

“Although the agricultural season has started, shortages of fertilisers and seed maize have not been sufficiently addressed,” Fewsnet’s latest report said.

“High maize seed prices made it extremely difficult for farmers to procure the seed they needed. The government’s input support programme only started moving the inputs in November, and consequently, the majority of the farmers who benefited were likely unable to take advantage of the early rains and the full potential of the rainfall season.”

Zim threatens Journalists


NYTimes has a rare (for them) story about press censorhips in Zim...

Zimbabwe's security minister was quoted Friday in a government-controlled newspaper as saying that "the net will soon close" on those remaining journalists whose criticism of the government threatens the nation's security.

The warning from the official, Didymus Mutasa, followed the arrest this month of employees and directors of Voice of the People, a news organization based in the capital, Harare, that had broadcast uncensored reports into Zimbabwe via a shortwave transmitter in Madagascar operated by the Dutch government.

The police in Mutare, in eastern Zimbabwe, also seized a well-known journalist on Jan. 18 and held him for three days on charges of violating the state's media laws.


Kubatana net has information on this radio station

And the Voice of the people has a web site HERE

True news is getting harder to find friends in Zim are afraid to write too much, because the letters are censored...and now that China has helped Zim set up internet filters, the email is watched too...

This is similar to the "security" imposed by the white Smith government...where we were searched for letters and documents when LEAVING the country....(My sainted mother smiled and smuggled some inside her bra...I looked dangerous, but she looked like a naive church lady, so was not searched)...
Dictators seem to read the same book...under the Smith government, land was confiscated from farmers etc. (usually black farmers and sold to white farmers), political opponants were jailed, and missionaries were often accidentally "killed" if they got too close to the opposition...

The difference, of course, is that Smith didn't starve his people...and allowed NGO's to help them...

And back then, the anti Government forces had shortwave radio stations that people listened to stealthfully at night...

Thursday, January 26, 2006

AU and Zim human rights report


Activists have condemned inaction by the African Union at its just-concluded summit on a report from its own human rights commission documenting human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, accusing South Africa of again providing Harare with political cover.

The AU summit in Khartoum, Sudan, this week declined to take up the report from the Gambia-based African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, which was critical of the Zimbabwean government’s 2005 slum demolitions which left hundreds of thousands of people homeless, among other alleged human rights violations.

A Johannesburg newspaper quoted South African Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dhlamini Zuma as saying the Zimbabwe report was not tabled because Zimbabwe and other African countries facing similar accusations had not had time to respond. But Harare has officially refused to acknowledge the AU commission’s report.

International relations professor Stephen Chan of the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies told reporter Carole Gombakomba that it is a “shame” the African leadership gathered under the AU is not prepared to tackle such issues.

Things are really bad...when even the crocks are staving

At least 12 crocodiles have starved to death on a farm in Serui, Zimbabwe, while another 258 are close to dying, that country's Herald newspaper reported on Wednesday.

It said the reptiles had been without food since November last year.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Child sex abuse rampant in Zim

Sexual abuse of children is rampant in Zimbabwe, where the Aids pandemic has orphaned more than a million, the UN children's fund said Monday.

Most of the victims are primary school children, according to reports from clinics, aid groups and the media. One local group recorded 4 146 cases of sexual abuse against children in its area of operation last year alone, UNICEF said in a statement.

Some children are abused by school staff, others by family members, and most by trusted figures of authority, the statement said. Staff at one primary school in the capital, Harare, allegedly abused 14 girls, while at another school in nearby Marondera, 52 girls were allegedly abused.
At least one in five Zimbabwean children has lost one or both parents, the overwhelming majority because of AIDS, UNICEF spokesman James Elder said by telephone from Harare. Many are cared for by already stretched extended families, grappling with acute food shortages, 80 percent unemployment and inflation of over 500 percent.

"With so many economic challenges, coupled with a very high number of orphaned children ... there is an incredible level of vulnerability here," Elder said. A child without money is more likely to hitch a ride from a stranger, for example, he added....

Corruption? Moi?

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono took aim at corrupt officials in his latest quarterly monetary policy statement on Tuesday, accusing top officials of “failing the economy” and the country by engaging in corrupt activities and graft.

The country must also re-establish economic ties with the rest of the world, he said. "As Zimbabwe, we cannot go it alone, and it is imperative that we seek to work with other international business partners, particularly those that see the virtues and sincerity of our efforts and wish us well," he said in a televised address.

The central banker warned that the economy was “at the edge of the cliff” with hyper-inflation spiraling even higher and with corruption “widespread and deep-rooted. Gono told the country that "we are, as Zimbabweans, fast losing our integrity and sense of economic justice and fairness as a people, right across the board.”

He acknowledged that consumer inflation, which was clocked at a 585% annual rate in December, would probably continue to rise towards 800%.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Alternatives to socialism for development

Baldilocks questions how Africa's troubles, of corruption and the brain drain, can be aleviated...

City Journal suggests yes...LINK

Monday, January 23, 2006

IMF to visit Zim


African summit meeting

African leaders gathered in Khartoum today for a summit fraught with human rights issues in a country the United States accuses of genocide.

Yesterday, Sudanese police raided a meeting of civil and human rights groups and briefly detained participants.

Yup...can't have human rights groups at a meeting that actually is supposed to discuss Human Rights...and guess who is the next chairman?

Most contentious is the chairmanship of the organisation, which traditionally goes to the country hosting the summit.

That would make the next chairman Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir, a military coup leader accused of fuelling the conflict in Western Darfur that has killed some 180,000 people in three years, displaced two million and spilled over into neighbouring Chad.

Rebels in Darfur said they would boycott on-going peace talks to protest against the prospect, which would make Sudan both a mediator and a participant in the talks.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Mugabe evicts neighbors.

Harare, Zimbabwe - Owners of property next to President Robert Mugabe's retirement mansion have received written warnings that their houses will be confiscated by the state.

The move represents the first time Zimbabwe's elite, both black and white, have suffered at first hand.

Millions of Zimbabweans were affected by last year's "clearances" of urban shantytowns and much of the rural population hit by Mugabe's war on white farmers. But, until now, many members of the "aristocracy" have escaped unscathed - and even set up home in close proximity to his putative retirement home.

Security forces quitting?

(scroll down)

Over 3,000 disgruntled junior-ranking soldiers and police officers have applied for discharge from service, as discontent over poor salaries and working conditions mounts in the security forces. Zimbabwe's army is estimated at around 40,000 soldiers, while the police force employs about 25,000 men and women. Together the forces form the bedrock of President Robert Mugabe's rule.

Authoritative sources say most of those wishing to quit submitted their resignation letters between October and November last year, indicating that they want to leave government service between this month and next month. The great majority have served for five years or less.

Although few of them have explicitly cited poor pay or working conditions in their letters, senior commanders confirm that these are the main reasons young officers want to leave, warning that many more are expected to apply for discharge during the year as economic hardships worsen.

"The boys are tired of living from hand to mouth and many of them say they feel it is better to go into informal trading than continue to be overworked for peanuts," said a senior officer in the discharges section at national police headquarters in Harare, who asked not to be named. "These guys cannot supplement their incomes while still serving because that will land them in trouble with their commanders, who do not approve of serving police officers or soldiers engaging in informal trading."

Zim Government reform plans

The government has turned its attention to the production of fertilizer. Goodbye to fertilizer. It will now join the long list of products procured or produced by the government that are unobtainable on the open market.

First it was fuel. The government took over the procurement of fuel from oil companies years ago, simply because it was an easy way to bolster the (Swiss) bank accounts of Zanu (PF) heavies.

No sooner had they done so than the country was hit by a major shortage – a situation that has never been successfully resolved.

Then they turned their attention to land – and we know the result of that. Recently the government announced plans to force commercial banks to lend money to newly-resettled farmers, despite the fact that its own land bank nearly collapsed when politicians interfered with its lending policies.

Now, it is the turn of fertilizer, one of the beleaguered agricultural industry's most vital inputs.

This hare-brained scheme to mug the shareholders of the fertilizer industry is just another step in the Mugabe regime's doomed ideological economic "reform" that can only lead the country into further chaos and misery.

Mugabe turns 82


Reports that President Robert Mugabe visited a Johannesburg hospital, his upcoming 82nd birthday and recent comments from Vice President Joyce Mujuru have nurtured speculation as to who will succeed Zimbabwe’s sole leader since independence.

A spokeswoman for the Johannesburg hospital Mr. Mugabe visited this week said he was just visiting a patient there name was not disclosed....

Then there is this part of the story:

Officials of his ruling ZANU-PF party are asking businesses for donations to meet the costs of a US$100,000 Mugabe birthday celebration February 21 in eastern Manicaland province.


Harare - Zimbabwe's 10 provinces are being asked to raise one-billion Zimbabwean dollars (about R63 000) each to celebrate President Robert Mugabe's 82nd birthday next month, a state controlled newspaper reported on Friday....

"Our president is a source of inspiration to all the country's youths and we need to ensure that this year's celebrations are a resounding success," said Enock Porusingazi, the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) party youth chairperson for Manicaland.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Miscellaneous comments

I was going to blog on how cellphones are being used in Zim and also being monitored thanks to the Chinese technology.

But the network crashed, and I lost the links

So instead I will post two links from Pajamamedia bloggers about other areas in Africa.

DamianPenny links to Christopher Hitchen's story about Uganda's Army of God...

These children are not running toward Jordan and the Lord; they are running for their lives from the "Lord's Resistance Army" (L.R.A.). This grotesque, zombie-like militia, which has abducted, enslaved, and brainwashed more than 20,000 children, is a kind of Christian Khmer Rouge and has for the past 19 years set a standard of cruelty and ruthlessness that—even in a region with a living memory of Idi Amin—has the power to strike the most vivid terror right into the heart and the other viscera...

And Austin Bay writes about the civil unrest in Nigerian oil fields...actually, I knew about this several years ago, since I was working in Oklahoma, and the workers came back from Nigeria and said they weren't sure if they wanted to go back, despite the pay....

Considering the terrible Civil war there which resulted in at least a million kids starving to death, this is not good news....

Zim refugees in S.A.: "hostile refuge"


Mother Jones, a left wing magazine that covers human rights, has a report on South Africa's hostility to Zim refugees.alas, the full article requires you get their magazine...
"...Human rights monitors estimate that number (of poor Zim refugees in S.A.) to be as high as 1.5 million people. Captain Harrie Heslinga, in the South African border town of Musina, told me that each week his men arrest between 500 and 1,000 Zimbabweans, which he estimates to be 10 percent of those who cross into South Africa. “It’s getting worse and worse,” Heslinga says. “Their country is in chaos, and they see South Africa as the promised land.”

"In crossing the river, the migrants face flash floods, crocodiles, poisonous snakes, cape buffalo, lions; one refugee told me he watched as a rampaging bull elephant crushed his best friend to death last summer. Once they get to South Africa, the refugees are stalked by South African police who almost every night sweep through the Johannesburg and Pretoria neighborhoods frequented by Zimbabweans. Those arrested can languish for weeks in the notorious Lindela Repatriation Center in Krugersdorp, 30 miles northwest of Johannesburg, before being driven across the Limpopo and dumped back into Zimbabwe....

Lindela Camp

I guess Zim is not considered news, because I can't find any definite information about it...

LINK is a 1999 report...probably outdated...

LINK2 and LINK3 are recent reports of deaths there...

...It is estimated that at least three Zimbabweans die at Lindela every month but the exact number is not known. A senior official at the centre this week told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that they also did not know how many Zimbabwean immigrants were dying at the centre.
Immigrants without identification papers were given paupers’ burials while those whose bodies could be collected by their relatives were given the same type of burial.
Dube said a recent visit to Leratho hospital where sick immigrants from Lindela were admitted had revealed that most, if not all were suffering from diseases that are caused by poor hygiene, poor living conditions and poor diet. ...

I can't judge if that is a high number or not....this article says that the camp holds "up to 5000 people"...if it's overcrowded, 2 or three deaths a month would not be a high death rate...

However, if the complaints of corruption and poor hygiene are true, then expect outbreaks of diarrhea and other disease...

And, of course, one never knows what is going on there....where are the reporters? I can find reports of things like "Thousands deported" or "160 Zim deported", yet there are hundreds of thousands of Zim citizens in that country...

Zim Refugees in South Africa

Sokwanele has a report...

Zimbabweans are by nature hospitable people. Those who work with the refugees find it inspiring that, even though they now live in demoralising and often squalid surroundings in South African cities and towns, they have retained their dignified politeness and concern for one another. The unspeakable violence perpetrated on Zimbabweans by the Mugabe regime through its armed forces and youth militia does not reflect the intrinsic character of the Zimbabwean people.
Conversations during the party were conducted mainly in Shona. Since the refugees come from different parts of Zimbabwe and are now scattered in a variety of poor areas close to the city centre, some were meeting for the first time. A number had been in South Africa for more than a year, others had left Zimbabwe after the demolition of their homes in mid 2005 by the Mugabe regime. Despite extensive international coverage of the horrific demolitions and the publication of a damning report on "Operation Murambatsvina" (Operation Drive Out the Filth) by the United Nations, the destruction continues at an insidious, low profile level....
Their greatest fear was that he had been sent to the Lindela Detention Centre outside Johannesburg, or had been deported. At Lindela, thousands of Zimbabweans continue to be held prior to deportation, and a steadily growing number has died. Lawyers for Human Rights have contacted the authorities at Lindela, but so far Richard has not been found. ...

It is possible he has been taken from Lindela and forced to board the overnight train from Johannesburg to Mussina, which hauls vast numbers of illegal migrants back to the Zimbabwean border every couple of weeks. Since the detainees are so fearful of returning to the hunger, oppression, disease and hopelessness they face back home, many risk serious injury or death by jumping from the moving train. Detainees who are handed over to the Zimbabwean police at the Beit Bridge border post are frequently beaten before being dumped penniless at the roadside outside the small, drab, dusty town, with no means of getting home. Without cell phones it is virtually impossible for family members to remain in contact, so Phillip and his siblings can only hope and pray that their brother is still alive.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Neopaganism: Gaia hates people


".....Had it been known then that life and the environment are closely coupled, Darwin would have seen that evolution involved not just the organisms, but the whole planetary surface. We might then have looked upon the Earth as if it were alive, and known that we cannot pollute the air or use the Earth's skin - its forest and ocean ecosystems - as a mere source of products to feed ourselves and furnish our homes. We would have felt instinctively that those ecosystems must be left untouched because they were part of the living Earth.... "

Translation: Poor countries need to stop their people from moving into "habitat"... poor people should remain poor...and ordinary folks in "rich" countries should go back to being poor like their ancestors.

Civilisation is energy-intensive and we cannot turn it off without crashing, so we need the security of a powered descent. ..

Yeah...let's go back to the good old days....

We will do our best to survive, but sadly I cannot see the United States or the emerging economies of China and India cutting back in time, and they are the main source of emissions....

How dare those peasants who left poverty in Europe to go to the US become rich...and how dare those poor peasants in China and India think they too should be able to have some of the advantages of civilization...

We should be the heart and mind of the Earth, not its malady. So let us be brave and cease thinking of human needs and rights alone, and see that we have harmed the living Earth and need to make our peace with Gaia.

This is neopaganism, where a mythical "gaia" is god...and people are the enemy..but why, dear sir, is Gaia killing poor people and not rich people? A category 4 hurricane with floods hit the US Gulf coast, and a few thousand died...a typhoon hit Bengeladesh causing flooding, and a a couple hundred thousand peole people died...I guess Gaia can't figure out where to hit...
Or, just MAYBE, unlike New Orleans, people didn't have cars to flee in, and more importantly, there was no superdome on high ground for the Bengali to flee other words, Gaia is more likely to kill you if you are poor and "conserve the planet" than if you are rich and own a Ford F-150 and can hike it out to Baton Rouge...

I am not for excessive consumption or using a Ford F 150 in Manhattan (Although it does come in handy in Oklahoma)...and I have seen devestating mudslides from greedy loggers deforesting local hills. And I know about coalmine runoff devestating the stream, and oil well residue poisoning the cattle....yes, let us clean up the environment, and take care of it...But given the history of Fabian utopianism and eugenics in England, I suspect this type of rant is merely another version of the "too many of them, let's prevent them from breeding" talk over tea and crumpets...

Tom Clancy has a book where a group of ecologyworshipers who tried to help Gaia depopulate pesky peopel are punished by placing them in a pristine setting in the Amazon and left there.....

Wonder how Mr. Lovelock would like it in Zim when it's 45 degrees, no aircon, and have to walk 5 miles to fetch all his water...

Hunting's okay

Johannesburg - Trophy hunting should be encouraged as a way to protect the dwindling number of African lions facing habitat loss and other threats, says a group of conservationists. ...

The IUCN-World Conservation Union, which organised the meeting, said: "Regulated trophy hunting is not considered a threat, but rather viewed as a way to help alleviate human-lion conflict and generate economic benefits for poor people to build their support for lion conservation."

Tanzania is the top destination for hunters, mostly from the United States and Europe, who pay large sums for the opportunity to shoot a lion, followed by South Africa.
Kenya, however, has banned the practice, which sees hundreds of lions bagged every year.
Trophy hunting can generate funds that could help governments deal with problem animals, according to Kate Nicholls, researcher with the Okavango lion conservation project. ..
Laurence Franck, conservation biologist with the Wildlife Conservation Society, said: "Theoretically, hunting is a fantastic way to preserve very large eco-systems, but the practicalities of getting that money to the little guys who are paying the costs is a huge issue."
Some lions are man-eaters
American expert Craig Packer said it was possible to target older male lions for trophy hunting to minimise the impact on the pride.
"Our ideas of wildlife come from television, magazines. We see these pretty pictures of mother lions with baby cubs, looks all cute and sweet".
"But the reality is that lions in Tanzania alone attack more than 100 people every year, and they kill more than 70 people every year
," he said.
Other than habitat loss, lions also are threatened by the disappearance of wild prey and conflicts with humans. ..

Translation: War and drought are hurting wild animals, but the main problem is those human beings who make farms to feed their children...and those people object to lions eating their let's allow professional hunters to kill them instead...
The deer population in Pennsylvania might be a lesson to the "wildlife" people that emphasise this also...
100 plus years ago, there were many farms on marginal land, and no deer...but then industrialization and migration led to many areas going wild again...and the deer were they are "harvested" and bring revenue to the state, and fun to the rich city folks who come to hunt (and food to the locals who often poach, or hunt deer on private land to supplement income)...

Monday, January 16, 2006

How to blog anonymously when living under tyranny

Zimbabwe (in English); also useful for English-speaking bloggers in other African countries. The live, editable version is here: ZimbabweAnonymousBloggingGuide. Download Word version of Zimbabwe Anonymous Blogging Guide here.

The link between Mugabe and American big game hunters

Essentially the story is about how Mugabe's family/cronies took over the hunting industry...

But notice the headlines?
To understand them, you have to realize that Newsweek is "liberal", i.e. hates guns, hates hunters, and hates America..(translation: It's the fault of BadBushie and his NRA friends).

"...American hunters are also flocking to private-game reserves that were seized without compensation, and sometimes with violence, from white farmers and ranchers as part of Mugbe’s radical land-reform program, which reached a peak in 2002. ....

Debate also swirls around what many industry sources call the most controversial operator in Zimbabwe: Out of Africa Adventurous Safaris. Founded by four former South African policemen and based in both South Africa and Overland Park, Kan., the company has done a brisk business taking a heavily American clientele to hunt on several ranches that, according to industry watchdogs in Zimbabwe, were seized by ZANU-PF activists and independence war veterans. Critics, including the Zimbabwean Association of Tourism and Safari Operators, say that the group uses poorly trained hunting guides who, among other violations, sometimes endanger the lives of their clients and overhunt species in violation of the Zimbabwean government's hunting rules.
Zimbabwe’s Parks and Wildlife Authority banned Out of Africa last year from operating in the country. “This is an unscrupulous organization that doesn’t respect the environment and pursues unsustainable quotas,” says David Coltart, the opposition leader.
Conservationist Johnny Rodrigues calls the company the most “flagrant violator” of hunting regulations in Zimbabwe. Dawie Groenewald, one of the founding partners of Out of Africa, denies that his company has done anything ethically wrong and says that he has been slandered by white Zimbabwean hunters.
“The white Zimbabweans hunting in Zim don't want anyone else coming in there to hunt—they hate South Africans coming to hunt in their kingdom," he told NEWSWEEK. Out of Africa's attorney, Kevin Anderson, says that “these allegations about poaching and other illegal activities have been floating around for several years and they've never been substantiated.”

My take on all of this is:
Mugabe's thugs take over private game reserves and allow hunting of protected animals...

And, unlike his other schemes, they seem to be doing it sucessfully...
Ah, but what about the poor animals threatened with extinction? Well, sorry, but I don't give a F***...when a million people are threatened with extinction from starvation, I'm not going to worry about a damn leopard or elephant. Black babies are more important to me, but then, I'm not very politically correct in these matters.

And notice that although Newsweek blames American hunters, Groenwald mentions SOUTH AFRICAN hunters?

My take in all of this?
More power to entrepeneurship at it's best. Kill the F**** leopards, bring in cash, feed the hungry...
As for Mugabe, as you notice, I'm not his biggest fan...but as I have pointed out many times, better Mugabe than civil war...and in civil war, all the animals would be poached anyway...not to mention a lot more people dead of starvation, disease, and murder...

So let the hunters in, get their cash, and everyone is happy...
Now, if he can only get the Chinese to run the tobacco farms...

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Bulawayo on Cholera alert


BULAWAYO City Council has assured residents that it is high on alert to deal with an outbreak of the deadly cholera disease, which has so far killed several people in Harare, Chikomba areas and other parts of the country.

To date there have been no reported cases of the disease in Bulawayo. The council has promised to respond to refuse collection problems and sewer burst pipes promptly to avoid health catastrophe in the city. Speaking in an interview with the Sunday News on Wednesday, council spokesman Mr Pathisa Nyathi said the council would use the fuel it received from the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe for refuse collection and attending to burst sewer pipes.He said the council would concentrate more on collecting refuse from public places such as shopping centres and bus termini as the fuel was not enough to cover the whole of Bulawayo.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Vendors "victimized" by ban

Human rights lawyers in Zimbabwe on Thursday slammed the authorities' closure of a popular Harare fruit and vegetable market on public health grounds, saying informal vendors were being victimised.Earlier this week, Harare's state-appointed commission which has replaced the opposition-led council, announced the closure of Mbare Musika market amid reports of increasing cases of cholera in Zimbabwe. Fourteen people have already died from the disease, three of them in Harare.

Mbare Musika is Harare's biggest outdoor market. Like many other parts of the capital, it is strewn with piles of uncollected rubbish.
The authorities said they were worried conditions at the market would contribute to the spread of cholera, a highly-infectious disease.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said in a statement that while the association appreciated public health concerns, the city's health crisis had been caused by "the commission's unlawful actions".
"The Harare commission has regrettably chosen to ignore their duty to repair malfunctioning waste disposal systems and omitted to remove refuse for many months, as is their duty under local legislation, by-laws and regulations, as well as under international human rights instruments," the statement read.

UMM>>>Cholera is spread via dirty water...
Dirty food can be cleaned with soap and water, and cooked...and it will be safe...
Hands can be washed with soap and water...
Cholera was wiped out in London by decent sewers and a decent water system...

Of course, considering that I spent all of yesterday in my bedroom wheezing because someone got tired of the smell of discarded garbage and rubbish in the vacant lot across the street and was burning I guess we shouldn't criticize Zim for not collecting garbage....

Worms threaten Zim's crops

The outbreak of army worm -- a caterpillar that eats crops -- was top of Zimbabwe's state-run radio bulletins earlier this week in a sign of just how seriously the authorities take the threat.Quoting an official from the state Department of Agricultural and Research Extension Services (Arex), the paper said 811ha of desperately-needed maize, sorghum and millet had been destroyed so far. This could represent around 4 000 tonnes of grain, the paper estimated.

Remembering Biafra


25 years ago, the attempt of Biafra to seceed from Nigeria was crushed...

An estimated 1 million people died in the war, mainly from starvation...

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Mugabe's computers died...

President Mugabe's Information and Communication Technology(ICT) drive suffered a major setback after reports that most of the computers that he donated to schools in the run up to 2005 parliamentary elections are dead.Reports from Chiredzi Government High indicate that almost all Mugabe computers are down. This sparked furore from parents in the remote south-eastern town after they were forced to pay extra computer tutorial fees." Zvinorevei izvozvi, kwanzi maZhing zhong ose akauya naMugabe akafa (What is the meaning of all this, all copy-cat computers that Mugabe brought from China are dead)", said the irate Donald Moyo who has a child at the high school.

Hopefully, the "one hundred dollar laptops" we are hearing about won't be as shoddy as chinese copycat computers...

(heads up from the beardedman blog)

Zim report here


74 page word document report on Zim by NGO groups...

Many of the humanitarian challenges facing Zimbabwe are common to countries in Southern Africa, particularly the “triple threat” of Human Immuno-Deficiency Virus/Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS), food insecurity and declining capacity for basic social service provision, in addition to a large number of orphans and vulnerable children.

The humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe is further impacted by economic decline, and formal and informal migration of skilled and unskilled labour, which could be countered by appropriate Government policies.

In the 2005-2006 season, at least three million people will require food assistance, as the country has harvested an estimated 600,000 Metric Tonnes (MTs) of maize, compared to its requirement of 1.8 million MTs.

While the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate among adults is reported to have dropped to 21.3% in 2005, the disease continues to cause the death of 3,000 Zimbabweans per week. HIV/AIDS has also fuelled a rapid growth in the number of orphans and vulnerable children, which has now reached over 1.3 million.

The economic situation, with high inflation rates, shortages in foreign exchange, high unemployment and negative growth, adds to the vulnerability and suffering of the population.

In 2005, the humanitarian situation was further compounded by the Government’s Operation Murambatsvina/Restore Order, which targeted what the Government considered to be illegal housing structures and informal businesses. The operation led to rapid growth in the number of displaced and homeless people, combined with loss of livelihoods for those that previously worked in the informal sector.

Based on Government estimates that 133,000 households were evicted during the Operation, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Human Settlement Issues in Zimbabwe estimate that some 650,000-700,000 people were directly affected through the loss of shelter and/or livelihoods.

The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) members participating in the Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP) for Zimbabwe project that the humanitarian situation is likely to continue to deteriorate in 2006,.......

The priority humanitarian actions for 2006 will be to save lives, enhance positive coping mechanisms, mitigate the impact on vulnerable populations, and ensure a comprehensive and co-ordinated humanitarian response. ....

The 2006 Consolidated Appeal aims to:

provide food assistance to an estimated 3 million people;
provide agricultural and livelihoods support to 1.4 million households;
improve access and quality of education services for 93,000 children;
provide temporary shelter to 23,000 displaced and homeless households;
immunise 5.2 million children against preventable communicable diseases ...
provide home-based care for 55,000 persons living with HIV/AIDS;
provide basic health care, including essential drugs and anti-retroviral drugs to 3.6 million people;
assist 600,000 women and children in mother and child health care programmes;
target1.6 million community members in health monitoring and surveillance;
reach 4.5 million people with messages to promote behavioural change and prevent HIV; sensitise 1.5 million people on the prevention of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV); provide multi-sectoral assistance to 300,000 mobile and vulnerable populations;
provide assistance to 96,000 returning deportees;
ensure assistance and psychosocial support to over 500,000 orphans and vulnerable children; and to deliver improved water and sanitation services for 2.4 million people.

To this end, a total of 46 appealing agencies, including UN organisations, national and international Non-Governmental Organisations, community and faith based organisations, are requesting a total of US$ 276,503,174 to implement programmes and projects as part of the 2006 CAP.

No recovery soon for ZIm

HARARE - Prospects of sustainable recovery in Zimbabwe appear dimmer than ever before as a bewildering array of self-inflicted and natural disasters steadily throttle the once prosperous the southern African nation.
Analysts believe that after more than five years of an unprecedented economic meltdown, Zimbabwe is headed for more troubled waters - at least in the short-to-medium term.
"It looks like we have now turned into the masters of navigating from one sticky situation to another, and in almost all cases fingers will be pointing at those entrusted with powers to lead this country," said a political analyst from the University of Zimbabwe who did not want to be named.
The bulk of the crises stem from self-created chaos while others, like the outbreak of the crop-eating armyworms during the past few weeks, are really the result of unsympathetic weather elements.
At a time fellow southern African countries are excited about prospects of better harvests because of good rains this farming season, Zimbabwe has been hit hard by an armyworm outbreak which effectively reduces chances of achieving a respectable harvest from the 2005/06 season.
The analysts said Harare's much-vaunted Operation Maguta faces the real risk of failure after the caterpillars have devoured large amounts of crops and pasture in the Midlands, Mashonaland West, Mashonaland Central and Mashonaland East provinces - Zimbabwe's prime agricultural regions.
Operation Maguta is an ambitious government programme to resuscitate the mainstay agricultural sector, in a state of near total collapse after President Robert Mugabe's chaotic and often violent land redistribution programme which destabilised the sector and saw food production tumbling down by about 60 percent.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Zimbabwe Admits Land Grabs Failed, Inflation at 585%


Gateway pundit has a post with several links on Zimbabwe...

He summarizes the inflation, the homelessness, and the general collapse of that country for his readers...

Judge seeks the end of Witchcraft Curbs


HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- A senior High Court judge urged Zimbabwe's government to ease colonial era restrictions on the practice of witchcraft, state-run radio reported Tuesday.

Many here retain strong beliefs in the healing power of spirit mediums -- known as n'angas, or witch doctors -- along with the role of ancestral rites in the nation's cultural life, Judge Maphios Cheda said Monday at the opening of a new judicial year in the second city of Bulawayo.

"The strongly held conviction of belief in witchcraft and traditional healers ... cannot be wished away," Cheda said in the speech quoted on state radio.

He urged amendments to the century-old Witchcraft Suppression Act "in keeping with the popular thinking and beliefs of the majority in this country."

The Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers Association estimates 80 percent of Zimbabweans visit traditional healers for treatment or consultations, Cheda said.

This story needs a clarification....
Traditional healers often use Herbs to treat people.
Traditional healers often perform ceremonies to cleanse you from curses.
Some do one, some do the other, most do both.

Sickness is attributed to a curse. Maybe you mistreated your mother, so after she died her spirit cursed you. So you go to your local Healer, he knows you mistreated your mother (even we western docs know all the gossip) and holds a are cured, and you start treating your elders better in the future.

But sometimes the illness is from a "curse"...maybe you got someone's job, so they put a curse on you (I treated one of these cases) do a ceremony, and fine.

But sometimes the illness is from a "witch" evil person that lives in your town or village...
And maybe the witchdoctor will name a person he is angry at as the "witch"...

In the old days, the villagers would go to them and beat them to death, or someone would poison them...

Just like the Salem witch craft trials, lots of innocent people were accused and the British made it illegal to accuse someone of witchcraft...

(going to a healer for ceremonies or for herbal medicine was NEVER illegal)...

Finally, the dark side of all of this is the belief that you can manipulate the spirits for power...
Every African country has cases where bodies of young people have been see, you kill them and place their hearts or genitals under your business, and the spirits will make you sucessful...

So witches DO exist...
And before any Westerners condemn Africans for their evil killing of innocent children, might I remind you that most western countris allow men and women to kill their unborn children for convenience? Most Africans consider abortionists as witches too...

Zim refugees in South Africa

A state-controlled Zimbabwean newspaper, the Herald, reported last week that more than 3 000 Zimbabweans had been deported from South Africa last month for flouting immigration regulations and had been transported back to Zimbabwe by road and air during the Christmas week. A total of 97 433 illegal Zimbabwean immigrants were deported last year. Limpopo police said yesterday that pregnant Zimbabwean women were entering South Africa illegally to give birth, so that they could qualify for child support grants.


t is estimated that there are close to two million Zimbabweans in South Africa, most of them illegal immigrants.

Zimbabweans have been fleeing a slumped economy in Zimbabwe with inflation topping 500%.

Last week, it was revealed that more than 3000 Zimbabweans were deported during the Christmas holidays.

South Africa even took the unusual step of flying some of the illegal immigrants to Zimbabwe, sparking a confused reaction in Harare where the government briefly detained the deportees for yet unexplained reasons.

A total of 97 433 illegal Zimbabwean immigrants were deported last year.

Sibuyi said illegal immigrants were not targeted by country or continent and said that those deported last year were from many different countries throughout the world.

He said a total of 77 868 illegal immigrants from Mozambique were deported last year, 9 225 from Lesotho, 4 296 from Malawi and 193 from Nigeria. Smaller numbers from Australia, China, India, Pakistan and Peru were also deported in 2005.


HARARE, Zimbabwe, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- To address an increasing flow of illegal migrants from Zimbabwe to South Africa, the countries announced plans Tuesday for a joint border migration office.

With support from the International Organization for Migration, officials will assist Zimbabweans with obtaining valid work permits, and also offer counseling on HIV and AIDS, the BBC reported.

"Deportees and other people in need of legal documents will be served food and other basic amenities while their papers are being sorted," South African government spokesman Page Boikanyo said.

The exodus is being driven by economic collapse and a government housing demolition program.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

nope, nothing here, folks, just move along...

Policybyblog has a link on Birdflu...and comments:

Part of the propaganda of commercial media is that they keep us in touch with, as one slogan goes, "the news you need"; one network program even promises, "Give us 23 minutes and we'll give you the world." But the "world" we tend to see in mainstream media is narrow, selective, episodic, torn from context. I illustrate this fact by asking my students to name more than two wars going on in the world today. Most can cite conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. In my surveys, Vietnam, China, and "Africa" trail distantly behind. In fact, there are about 40 wars raging in various parts of the planet. Some objectively are huge news stories--1 million dead in the Sudan, 3.3 million killed in the Congo--but they receive scant coverage, while others are given saturation coverage. Why? The reasons are complex, but the result is that the herd chases its own tails (and tales). If Iraq is the big story, then all the lenses go to Iraq, Congo be damned. Meanwhile the U.S. mainstream media diverts into issues that we would all agree are quite trivial in the scope of the economy or world peace--the Michael Jackson trial, for example.

Yup...Michael Jackson is more important than starving Africans...ho hum, move along folks...
And my post on birdflu is HERE...but mainly about the danger of it being spread via the Haj...

Monday, January 09, 2006

The unhappiest place on earth...


Ghana is the tenth happiest place on earth, Malta is the happiest, while Zimbabwe and Ukraine seem to be the most unhappy, according to an annual World Database of Happiness complied by Rotterdam Erasmus University Prof....

Misery thy name is Zimbabwe


The brutal Operation Murambatsvina - "Operation Clear Out Filth" - last year destroyed the homes or jobs of at least 700 000 people and the lives of 2.4 million others, affecting almost a fifth of the population estimated at 11 million. The informal economy, which fed 40% of the people, was wrecked, unemployment tops 70% and inflation has passed the 500% mark.

The International Crisis Group estimates that Zimbabwe's internal refugee problem is between four and five million and a further 3.5 million people are estimated to have fled the country, mostly to South Africa.

The African Union has been remarkably quiet on the subject, although its Commission on Human and People's Rights did recently adopt a resolution "strongly" condemning the human rights abuses of Mugabe's government. But so "strongly" did it feel about the matter that it kept it away from the media - essentially the public - and it was only through a British newspaper that it got out....

Mugabe nixes African Union's statement


The African Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR), which falls under the African Union, has once again excoriated Zimbabwe over human rights abuses, but Zimbabwean analysts don't foresee the commission's latest indictment of the regime spurring African leaders to censure Robert Mugabe.

The Mugabe government has trashed the ACHPR's latest damning resolution. In typical style, the Zimbabwe government said ACHPR was criticising Zimbabwe as a convenient excuse to raise money for its operations from Britain and America....

Madhuku said African leaders eager not to offend Mugabe might seek to play down the report by portraying it as a result of the work of technical people in the ACHPR, but which did not reflect the AU's political sentiment.

"How can you expect a club of leaders, which include the likes of Omar Bongo and Yoweri Museveni, to censure Mugabe when they are changing their constitutions to do exactly what Mugabe is doing, if not worse?" asked Madhuku.

His sentiments were shared by John Makumbe, a University of Zimbabwe political scientist, who recalled the evasion of African leaders at dealing with the first damning report of the ACHPR against Zimbabwe in 2003. ...

Hmmm...nasty letters don't work...who wudda thought...

Saturday, January 07, 2006

mortality in Dem Republic of the Congo

LANCET report

The greatest humanitarian disaster since World war II...

What does Mugabe have to do with it?


After the assassination of President Laurent-Désiré Kabila in January 2001, his son Joseph Kabila assumed power. He has taken steps towards peace and reconciliation. MONUC will supervise the withdrawal and disengagement of the rebel forces. With an area the size of Western Europe, covered by dense tropical forest, the DRC poses a great challenge to the UN. Rich resources also fuel conflict. In April 2001, a UN panel of experts investigated the illegal exploitation of diamonds, cobalt, coltan, gold and other lucrative resources in the DRC. The report accused Rwanda, Uganda and Zimbabwe of systematically exploiting Congolese resources and recommended the Security Council impose sanctions.


Although the latest report shows no Zim troops there...LINK

UN troops in Africa

BBC discussion (old) is HERE

but most of the commenters are far from the problem, and the most important comment is this one:

The brutal truth is that the UN, the tool of last resort, is so involved in Africa because there is no better way, assuming you view the map from the long-term, global angle. If there were a better way don't people think it might have been tried by now? Correspondents should not kid themselves into thinking that there is a magic cure for all the world's/continent's problems.
Alex, former UN peacekeeper

Thousands die in DRC war

Conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo is killing 38,000 people each month, says the Lancet medical journal.

Most of the deaths are not caused by violence but by malnutrition and preventable diseases after the collapse of health services, the study said.

Since the war began in 1998, some 4m people have died, making it the world's most deadly war since 1945, it said.

A peace deal has ended most of the fighting but armed gangs continue to roam the east, killing and looting.

"Congo is the deadliest crisis anywhere in the world over the past 60 years," said Richard Brennan, health director of the New York-based International Rescue Committee and the study's lead author.

Stavation hits the horn of Africa


Friday, January 06, 2006

Yet another UN Envoy goes to Zim


THE United Nations is dispatching another emissary to Zimbabwe — the third envoy to visit Harare inside six months — to prevail on the government to accept urgent relief for victims of its controversial clean-up campaign in a move that shows the world body’s growing impatience with Harare. ....

“There is huge interest in Gambari’s visit by the Security Council,” said a UN official in Harare privy to the latest UN special envoy’s visit to Harare.
Sources said the Security Council members, shocked by the latest report produced by Jan Egeland, the UN humanitarian coordinator who visited Harare and Bulawayo in November last year, tasked the latest envoy to assess the situation in Zimbabwe and ensure that dialogue continued between Harare and the world governing body.
Gambari was appointed undersecretary for political affairs in June last year after serving as undersecretary general and special advisor on Africa, promoting UN and international support for African development.

He was Nigeria’s permanent representative to the UN before joining the secretariat in 1999.
However, sources within the government said this week Harare would seek to scupper the visit in the wake of a ZANU PF National People’s Conference resolution passed in Umzingwane last month by the ruling party delegates not to entertain UN envoys who serve the “neocolonial interests” of former colonial master Britiain, with which President Mugabe’s government has had a sour relationship since the launch of the controversial land reform programme in 2000.

The officials said the government was still livid with both Tibaijuka and Egeland’s reports and saw Gambari’s proposed visit as designed to further embarrass it in the eyes of the international community.
They said the government further saw the trip as the brainchild of certain Western countries on the Security Council bent on discrediting the country’s leadership, currently under targeted travel and financial sanctions.
“We also don’t trust this Nigerian fellow,” said a government official.

Shortage of farm workers due to low wages....

Despite heavy rains for almost a month, new farmers have complained that besides a scarcity of labour, shortages of fertiliser, fuel and seed could lead to a poor harvest.But new farmers are underpaying their labourers, asserts GAPWUZ, which represents up to 60,000 farm workers in the country. GAPWUZ secretary-general Gertrude Hambira told IRIN that some members had turned to illegal gold panning and informal trade."Quite a large number of the new farmers are failing to pay government sanctioned wages, and this is driving away farm workers. It has to be remembered that farm workers buy from the same shops as other citizens," she commented.Some farmers were paying monthly wages as low as US $6 against the required $20, said Hambira. In the face of rising inflation, the union is currently lobbying for at least $35 a month. Last month, inflation shot from 411 percent to 502.4 percent.However, the farmers have countered that they do not have the cash to pay the required wages. Davidson Mugabe, president of the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union, said some new farmers were struggling to keep up with payments, calling into question the viability of their plots."It has to be borne in mind that ... the new farmers are just starting off and they are also having problems to establish themselves. Some of them are still waiting to receive their bank loans and this calls for the need to re-adjust by both parties," said Mugabe.According to the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe, a government-funded consumer rights watchdog, an average Zimbabwean family currently requires about $200 a month to survive.Under the Zimbabwean government's fast-track land reform programme in 2000 most of Zimbabwe's white commercial farmers, who owned 75 percent of productive land, were removed from their farms to make way for landless blacks, who had been crowded into overused land, mostly in communal areas, to which they were moved during colonial rule.

E.U. to Zim: Please accept our aid...please. please


African union whispers they might be a little annoyed at Zim


....In a report seen by Reuters on Thursday, the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights said it was "alarmed by the number of internally displaced persons and the violations of fundamental individual and collective rights resulting from the forced evictions" carried out by Mugabe's government.

"The African Commission ... urges the government of Zimbabwe to cease the practice of forced evictions throughout the country, and to adhere to its obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and other international human rights instruments," said the report, drawn up at a meeting in Gambia last month.

Rights group Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition said it was heartened by the report and was confident AU leaders would back the commission's recommendations at their summit in Khartoum beginning on January 23.

"At last there is a consensus by the experts on rights issues in Africa that the government of Zimbabwe has failed to adhere to basic human rights ... and ordinarily African leaders adopt these resolutions which are drawn by experts appointed by themselves," said Crisis' co-ordinator Jacob Mafume.

The report urged the AU to re-send an envoy that Harare barred last year from investigating the government's demolition of urban slums, an exercise the United Nations says left over 700,000 people homeless or without a livelihood....

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Zim can't attract Chinese tourists


Of course, when the Chinese press have reports like THIS in their newspapers, maybe that is discouraging people from going...

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Zambian refugees have aid cut


Sometimes I note that Mugabe is not the worst thing that could happen...and that civil war would be worse...

In Zambia, there is drought and famine...and they have 80 000 refugees... most from civil wars in various parts of Africa....

Rations for more than 80,000 refugees in Zambia are being halved from Sunday because of a lack of international aid.
The World Food Programme says the cuts could result in increasing malnutrition, prostitution and crime.
Zambia was a haven of stability during wars in the region and attracted tens of thousands of refugees.
Peace in Angola meant that many could go home, but the Democratic Republic of Congo is still unstable.
Aid fatigue appears to have now set in, and appeals from the United Nations have met with a poor response.
"We're appealing to the international community not to forget the refugees in Zambia," said Jo Woods from the World Food Programme, which supplies five camps for Angolan and Congolese refugees.
"It's a critical time right now. Not only do we have refugees on half rations, but we have a drought and a food crisis in the country, where you have neighbouring villages struggling to meet their own food needs. This also impacts on the camp."
Drought has meant over a million Zambians are now in need of food aid.
Few villagers living around the camps can now help their neighbours. This is a time of real hardship, and cutting refugee rations will put an additional strain on these vulnerable people.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Zim scoffs at the threat to indict Mugabe

....Mr. Charamba was reacting to the call by Mark Ellis, the executive director of the London-based International Bar Association, in an article for The International Herald Tribune newspaper. In his article, Mr. Ellis said the U.N. Security Council should exercise, what he called, its wide discretionary powers to brand Mr. Mugabe an ongoing threat to the peace and security of the region and authorize the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the president and his regime.

The International Criminal Court was created by the United Nations to promote the rule of law around the world....

But Mr. Charamba said Zimbabwe is not a signatory to the statute that created the ICC and is therefore not legally bound by its dictates.

Mr. Charamba described the International Bar Association as part of a raft of bodies that are trying to place pressure on the Zimbabwe government in the hope that the opposition Movement for Democratic Change will soon witness a revival in the southern Africa country.

The Perfect Police state


January 2, 2006: To say Zimbabwe's political and economic condition continues to deteriorate doesn't do justice to the word deteriorate. The destruction of Zimbabwe's productive agricultural sector wrought by dictator Robert Mugabe's policies removed a key source of foreign currency (ie, exported food and agricultural products) has reduced most of the population to poverty. Now Zimbabwe has no hard currency to pay for essential imports, like oil. African and western sources report that in Zimbabwe gasoline cannot be bought legally by private citizens-- it is only available on the black market. One estimate of annual inflation (December 2004 to November 2005) in Zimbabwe was 500 percent. Two-thirds of the adult working age population is unemployed. It is hard to arrive at an accurate figure for inflation since the Zimbabwean currency is regarded as worthless and much of the economy is based on barter. One of the saddest stories of 2005 --and it received very little coverage, other than a few stories in June 2005 and a handful in December-- was Mugabe's attack on "illegal houses" (alleged squatters). The houses Mugabe's supporters removed were for the most part located in areas where the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party is strong. The "counter-squatter" operation had the name "Operation Murambatsvina" (a Shona phrase, one translation is "drive out the trash"-- an opposition website translates it as "clean out the filth."), It’s estimated that 700,000 people were left homeless. (One source said that ultimately 2.4 million people suffered from the "operation.") The MDC and other opposition groups claim that several hundred thousand small businesses were also destroyed. That's a huge claim, but in sub-Saharan Africa many businesses in urban areas are "mom and pop" stands selling food, crafts, and various supplies in front of the family home or shanty. The ZImbabwean government subsequently began a "reconstruction program" called "Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle." The government source said this is Shona and Ndebele for "live well," and claimed that 5000 new houses have been built. But few of the displaced have the cash to pay for them. Apparently the program requires the family pay a "deposit" for the new home-- the requirements aren't quite clear. Very few of the destroyed houses have been replaced, though the government says more houses will be built. Still, this looks like a political ploy --an attempt to quiet critics in the "international community."

Mugabe's opponents now describe his regime as a military dictatorship-- and that's a pretty accurate assessment. Zimbabwean publisher (and Mugabe opponent) Trevor Ncube even supplies the names of the men he says are running Zimbabwe:: Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede, Immigration Director Elasto Mugwadi and Army Commander Constantine Chiwengwa. One of Mugabe's key henchmen, Air Marshal Perence Shiri, is believed to be dying of an AIDS-related condition. The thinking is that Shiri's death will weaken the Mugabe government. There's no indication that this is the case. Mugabe and his supporters control the guns. If civil war does break out, Mugabe's dominant Shona tribe will provide the core of the "pro-government" force. The civil war would quickly become something of a tribal war, with Shona fighting Ndebele. And right now the Ndebele are starving, broke and unarmed. For a dictator, it is the perfect police state. For Mugabe’s subject’s, it is hell on earth.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

HIV patients in Zim lack access to drugs

BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe -- When they named their daughter Progress, the parents showed a touching faith in the future. But six years later, the girl has lost them both to AIDS.

With no one willing to care for her, Progress Sibanda lives in a nursing home filled with terminally ill AIDS patients in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second-largest city.

The girl has no visitors and few possessions - the clothes she wears and a comb her father gave her before he died this year. She never shows any emotion, the staff says.

The medical staff says Progress displays symptoms typical of AIDS, but she has never had an HIV test, let alone lifesaving antiretroviral medicines.

Zimbabwe has one of the highest HIV/AIDS rates in the world. More than 20 percent of the population, or about 1.8 million people between the ages of 15 and 49, is infected. That is down from 24 percent two years ago, a recent United Nations study found, partly because of changes in sexual behavior.

The country's economic collapse, marked by hyperinflation of more than 500 percent and unemployment estimated by trade unions at 70 percent, has left critical shortages in all basic areas. Food and fuel are in desperately short supply, and so are medicines - particularly antiretroviral drugs that can save the lives of AIDS patients.

According to the World Health Organization, 95 percent of Zimbabweans who need antiretroviral drugs cannot get them.

Zimbabwean health officials blame the lack of antiretroviral medicines on the country's critical shortage of foreign currency. The currency shortage has prevented a local manufacturer from importing components of the drugs, they say....

Read it and weep...

Ncube keeps talking


BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe — At night, when the archbishop tries to sleep, his mind churns with the stories of his poor, hungry countrymen. Often he crawls out of bed and prowls his house, haunted by one of religion's eternal questions: Why does God let people suffer so?

During services, parishioners say, his emotions take over and he sometimes seems on the verge of tears.

Nearly a quarter of Zimbabwe's population has been pushed to the edge of starvation by five years of economic mismanagement and hyperinflation. Unemployment is estimated at 80%. A campaign this year by President Robert Mugabe's government to destroy squatter camps and street stalls left about 700,000 people homeless. Mugabe repeatedly has been accused of rigging elections to stay in power.

Witnessing all of this, Roman Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo has become the president's most prominent internal critic. He acknowledges that he prays for Mugabe's death.

"I don't understand why God allows these murderers to get away with everything," Ncube said in an interview in his office here in western Zimbabwe. "More often, I am really so angry about this government. Mugabe is after power and after money. When I think of it my heart breaks."

Tall, gangly and bespectacled, Ncube dresses as humbly as a priest. When speaking, he often refers to individual cases of suffering, or villages he has visited where people are hungry. Before elections in March, he exposed instances in which opposition supporters were refused access to food through the government's monopoly grain board.

Mugabe, 81, one of Africa's archetypal "Big Men," has led Zimbabwe, once one of sub-Saharan Africa's more prosperous countries, for a quarter of a century. He remains a hero to many of the continent's leaders.

Ncube's office is decked with images of people he considers true heroes: Mohandas K. Gandhi; Nelson Mandela; Oscar Romero of El Salvador, the slain Roman Catholic archbishop who spoke out for the poor despite pressure from the Vatican to keep a lower profile.

Ncube's voice is soft and his manner shy and self-effacing, yet his attacks on Mugabe are so blunt that allies worry he might be assassinated.

Ncube says that his phones are tapped and that authorities recently threatened to confiscate his passport. The secret police, the CIO, follow him, watch his home and monitor his sermons, he says, and last year they questioned his mother, now 88.

"This government, the one thing they don't like is the truth. But I'll not stop speaking," Ncube said. "The evils they are doing are so bad." .......
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