Sunday, April 30, 2006

Fewer Botswana companies at tradefair

The number of Botswana companies exhibiting at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) has gone down with only two companies making it to the fair compared to five the previous year.

Few Firms attend Zim trade fair

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe opened its annual trade fair on Friday with fewer overseas participants than ever, a stark sign of the country's economic downturn and deepening isolation critics blame on President Robert Mugabe's government.

The annual fair in the second city of Bulawayo, once one of Africa's leading trade events, attracted just a handful of companies from African and Asian countries unafraid of showing solidarity with Mugabe during his stand-off with the West.

"I would say this year's fair is the worst in the 47 year history of the fair, from a business perspective, and this is a direct reflection of Zimbabwe's poor international image," said Bulawayo businessman Eddie Cross, an official in the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

"There has not been much real trade conducted and most of the countries that have come are here mainly as a political show of solidarity with the ZANU-PF party government," Cross told Reuters by telephone....

Tanzanian President supports Mugabe

In a clear indication that the country’s leadership change had not affected the historic relations with southern African countries, President Jakaya Kikwete supported President Robert Mugabe’s land reform policy.

Addressing top government officials and high-ranking government officials at a dinner hosted by President Mugabe at the Bulawayo State House on Thursday night, President Kikwete said Tanzania supported African countries that are struggling to rebuild their economies.

’’We will continue to propagate the philosophy that political freedom becomes meaningful only if we can make decisions freely without being pushed or interfered with by foreign countries,’’ he stressed.

He also praised President Mugabe for his firm anti-neo-colonialism stand, saying the freedom that Zimbabweans fought for would otherwise be meaningless.

’’As we speak today, Mr President, we can say those who sacrificed their lives for the sake of the betterment of other people during Chimurenga and independence struggle did not do so for nothing.’’

Iranian products displayed at Zim trade fair.

During the opening ceremony, the Islamic Republic of Iran won the `best foreign pavilion' prize and a gold medal for best design.

Meanwhile, Mugabe and Kikwete visited the Iranian pavilion on the sidelines of the fair and lauded the wide range of Iranian products.

President Mugabe expressed great happiness over the Iranian companies' presence in the fair.

The Zimbabwean and Tanzanian presidents were presented several gifts and souvenirs by representatives of the Iranian companies participating in the fair....

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

More shacks destroyed

Armed police at the weekend raided a squatter camp on the banks of Mucheke river in Masvingo city, burnt down the plastic shacks and chased away more than 200 people including children who lived at the camp.

The squatters, who watched in agony as their shacks and belongings went up in smoke, had lived at the illegal camp since about 2001 and had somehow escaped the government's controversial urban clean-up campaign last year which the United Nations says left 700 000 people homeless after police demolished shantytowns and city backyard cottages.

Last Sunday's demolition comes barely a week after President Robert Mugabe promised during his April 18 Independence Day speech to continue demolishing illegal settlements in cities and towns....

Huge increase in health fees

Zimbabwe has announced a huge increase in the cost of health care at public hospitals, as it grapples with the world's highest inflation rate.

Public hospitals fees have gone up from Z$300 to between Z$800,000 and Z$1m (US$10) with immediate effect, the state-owned Herald newspaper reported.

The costs of consultations, maternity services, surgery and intensive care are also increasing.

The government says the rises will help pay for improved care.

The 333,200% increases come a month after the government lifted a freeze on private health care charges, which have since doubled.


Correspondents say the old fees of Z$300 were no longer practical, as $100 notes have become virtually worthless and disappeared from circulation....

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

China and big business in Africa

President Hu Jintao's visit to Africa comes at a time of growing Chinese interest in the continent.

Oil pipeline in Nigeria
Africa's oil reserves are a potent lure for energy-hungry China

Beijing is desperate for oil and natural resources to fuel its booming economy. And some African nations have plenty of both.

China is also keen to find new markets for its booming factories which are churning out everything from shoes and cars to textiles and TV sets.....

The most recent Chinese foray into Africa came earlier this month, when China National Offshore Oil Corporation completed a deal to buy a 45% stake in a Nigerian oil block for more than $2bn....

But China's interest in Africa has also sparked anger in the US and Europe.

Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing in Senegal
China's foreign minister recently concluded a tour of Africa
There are concerns about Beijing's willingness to do business with countries whose governments have been the subject of sustained international criticism like Sudan and Zimbabwe.

China insists it is merely trading with these nations and adhering to its policy of non-interference in other countries' internal affairs.

But it is not that simple - Beijing has used its veto at the United Nations to block pressure on Sudan's leaders to halt the ongoing violence in Darfur.

And in the past it has sold arms to Zimbabwe.

There are also concerns in Washington that China's growing clout will undermine American interests.

The US is also looking for energy on the continent, which could lead to a growing competition for influence in Africa.

So China's presence is not without controversy. But Beijing's need for energy and minerals, combined with its desire to increase trade, means that the country's leaders will be making far more visits to Africa in the future.

World bank and Malaria drug

The World Bank has been accused of publishing false accounts and wasting money on ineffective medicines in its malaria treatment programme.

A Lancet paper claims the bank faked figures, boosting the success of its malaria projects, and reneged on a pledge to invest $300-500m in Africa.

It also claims the bank funded obsolete treatments - against expert advice.

The bank has denied the allegations and says it is investing $500m to $1bn (£280m-£560m) over the next five years.

But it also admits it is not easy, and sometimes "not even possible", to know exactly how much input from each donor goes into a specific activity.

Malaria drug is not widely used in poor countries LINK
Part of the problem is lack of a medical infrastructure...another part is lack of money for this more expensive treatement.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Pastoral letter from Zim Council of churches

Nice letter listing problems in Zim...

Bad news: It doesn't SAY anything clearly, and it give no concrete suggestions to solve Zim's problems...

Better example of a religious leader instructing people:

This means no shooting demonstrators, and no poisoning your opponants.

This means paying for confiscated land...both white farms and those shacks you "cleaned out" of Harare...
It also means not taking money donated by the European Union etc. and using it to buy fancy cars, or to confiscate and build fancy houses.

Worked for Moses...

Department of Moral Outrage

Bad news: The WaPost article on murderous autocrats didn't include Mugabe...

Good news: the Pope mentioned Zimbabwe in his Easter speech...

Mugabe's killing machine

The blogger, in honor of earthday, blasts Mugabe for his new Mercedes Benz...

LINK2 has a photo of his fancy new car...and more details...

Mugabe’s luxury Mercedes-Benz S600 Pullmann arrived in Zimbabwe via South Africa, after it was custom built to his specifications in Germany.

According to the Zimbabwe Standard, the vice-presidents and speaker will have to be satisfied with Mercedes-Benz S320 models.

The cost of Mugabe’s vehicle is difficult to calculate. A spokesperson for Mercedes-Benz South Africa, Shirle Greig, said on Tuesday it was a personal transaction of which the details were extremely confidential.

She confirmed the car had arrived in South Africa by ship and was taken to Harare on a special truck. The German company, Cloer, armour-plated the vehicle to the highest possible specifications, a B7 Dragunov standard.

According to Grieg, the Zimbabwean government negotiated directly with Cloer for the luxury vehicles. Mugabe’s car’s floor, roof, windows and petrol tank have been specially reinforced, as the most vulnerable parts of the vehicle....

When Mugabe’s car was delivered last week, it apparently was taken immediately to the nearest garage to check for listening devices.

Bob’s such an enviromentalist- he’s saving all the wildlife from becoming roadkill and the population choking on fumes by using every last litre of benzina in the whole country himself- why someone so popular needs a heavily armoured hunwagen to traverse his domain and wave at the happy, smiling populace is a little beyond me.

Mind you though, it’s not as if this bastion of centralised planning and shining example of the wonders of tribal primitives adopting unfettered marxism can’t afford it- the fearless leader of the best example of a colonial fiefdom turned worker’s paradise is surely entitled to a little self-indulgence, and I’m sure the beneficiaries of the regeime’s success and largesse would have to agree.

Operation Taguta/Sisuthi - Command Agriculture in Zimbabwe: its impact on rural communities in Matabeleland

WordFile without pictures HERE...(smaller)

Summary: Context of Findings and their implications1
Command agriculture has to be contextualised against a background of the collapse of agriculture since 2000, and of epidemic corruption and inefficiency not only in this sector, but throughout the government policies in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe has faced a food deficit for several consecutive years, and the need to regain credibility for the land invasions, as well as fears of food riots, and the desire to be less dependent on international aid for reasons of national pride and sovereignty, all provide partial motives for Command Agriculture.

Zimbabwe is becoming increasingly militarised as a State, and the disastrous "Operation Murambatsvina" and "Operation Garikai" were both undertaken with the collaboration of the army. The army oversaw "Garikai" and soldiers were among the beneficiaries of the few houses built nationwide under the latter scheme, which has become part of the patronage system in Zimbabwe instead of providing housing for the displaced.

The army has been in control of food distribution for several years now, via control of Grain Marketing Board sales, the only source of affordable maize in rural areas.

Placing the army increasingly in control of food production via "Operation Taguta/Sisuthi" is the next logical step for government in the militarization of the State, and is a furtherance of the patronage of the army.

Giving the army effective control over large aspects of agriculture is keeping soldiers who might otherwise get bored and angry at their poor conditions, active and fed.

Command Agriculture has to be seen in the context of a now-established pattern of political abuse of maize, particularly in rural areas, through abuse of GMB sales. Maize has been consistently withheld from those perceived not to support the government over the last four years.

The pattern of behaviour shown by soldiers at irrigation schemes as summarised in the findings, is in keeping with this established pattern of manipulation of maize. Plot holders now have to beg for the very maize they themselves have laboured to grow, and soldiers have the power to say yes or no.

The destruction of productive market gardens can be viewed as part of the pattern of abuse of communities by government. The destruction of the economic base of these communities is either an act of unbelievable stupidity, or furtherance of a policy aimed at impoverishing rural communities as a means of controlling them.

The usurping of the early irrigation harvests could be an indication of the government intending to ensure that maize ends up in urban rather than rural areas: in urban areas there is a danger of riots if people are hungry, while in rural areas, hunger makes people compliant.

Deploying the army under the guise of Command Agriculture means that army units are now embedded deep in rural areas. This is effectively closing democratic space and will have a repressive impact during Rural District Council Elections due in September. It is likely that the army will stay in place and increase in numbers in rural areas, under the justification of Operation Taguta, from now until parliamentary and/or presidential elections.

Outcome of Command Agriculture
Command Agriculture has been a failure in the 2005/6 season in relation to improving maize production at rural irrigation schemes in Matabeleland. It has undermined such production, and has had an extremely negative effect on the community at large.

In terms of destroying self-sufficiency in rural populations and creating vulnerability through dependency on government as the only source of food, Command Agriculture is likely to prove a resounding "success".

Sunday, April 23, 2006

NAACP withheld report on Zim Elections

 (APN) ATLANTA – The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has been sitting on an explosive report showing Zimbabwe’s 2002 elections were free and fair, Atlanta Progressive News has learned.

“In sum, we are confident in spite of... long lines... the elections afforded the people of Zimbabwe an opportunity to exercise their constitutional right,” the report, which was reviewed by Atlanta Progressive News, stated at the conclusion of its Executive Summary.

“At stake is malnutrition to the point of death,” Rev. Mmoja Ajabu told Atlanta Progressive News. Ajabu is a member of a local branch of the NAACP in Athens, Georgia, which has called for the NAACP to release the report publicly.

An NAACP spokesperson told Atlanta Progressive News that the report was never intended for external use. NAACP Chairman Julian Bond did not respond to requests for comment.

However, the NAACP’s assertion does not appear consistent with a press release on their website dated January 21, 2003.

"NGO designation [by the United Nations, which had just been conferred] gives the NAACP its proper standing and status for participating in international relations and with foreign delegations. Whether monitoring elections in Zimbabwe or promoting human rights and trade as we did during a recent trip to Cuba, the NAACP is poised now to become even more effective as an advocate for international justice and third world development," then-CEO Kweisi Mfume, who is now running for US Senate in Maryland, said.

“The US and Britain are saying the elections were not free and fair. Because of this, they’re blocking the counties’ ability to get international loans from the IMF and the World Bank. We’re talking about saving lives. This is very serious,” Ajabu said.

A source who is familiar with the matter showed a copy of the highly sensitive report to APN’s Editor, who read and took notes, on condition of the source’s anonymity and the return of the documents to the source....
Dr. Simbi Mubako, the Zimbabwe Ambassador to the United States, held a press conference at the National Press Club in April 2005. In his remarks, Mubako pointed to numerous elections reports which were favorable from the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, the Union of African States, and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Rev. Ajabu told APN he spoke to one person removed from President Mugabe who said the Zimbabwean government has not yet received the 2002 report from the NAACP, which could be significant because it is an organization based in the United States.

The report shows a few things:

First, the NAACP sent five observers, according to the report. An NAACP spokesperson told APN that only two observers were sent.

Second, the NAACP did an extremely thorough job researching the election, expending considerable time, energy, and resources. The NAACP’s election research included extensive interviews with citizens, activists, religious leaders, elected officials, and nongovernmental agency officials. NAACP monitors undertook a 2,031 kilometer trip and observed urban and rural polling stations.

Third, the NAACP report says that observers would receive reports of violence at polling stations “from pundits and activists,” but when they would go to check out these rumors, the polling stations would be calm and orderly.

Fourth, they stated that Western governments had a clear anti-Mugabe stance throughout the process.

The NAACP congratulated the people of Zimbabwe for patience and courage and their large voter turnout. They recommended modernization of elections, voter education, and earlier training for poll workers, however.

The NAACP’s “International Election Observers Manual,” which was also included in the report, states the role of nonpartisan observers is “to give citizens confidence that the elections process is carried out in a free, fair, and transparent manner.”

Atlanta Progressive News is advocating that the NAACP should release this report to the world in order to give citizens such confidence.----------
This is a "progressive" news source.

The errors in it are many.
Even if the "report" leaked was true, it ignores several things, the most important one being that people who often know they will be punished for saying the truth will be punished will instead tell you what they think you want to tell them...

In Mashona culture, it is only polite to tell a person what they want to hear, and not contradict them...

Who translated for the "five" people? Did they bring their own translators? Who chose who to interview? The Government?

So why should interviewers expect to hear what many of my friends report: That people knew if they didn't vote for Mugabe that they would receive no food aid to their villages...

Mine confiscation? or not?

 PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe on Tuesday once again rattled foreign mining houses by reiterating that his government was not backing off on an intended plan to seize more than half the shares of foreign-owned mines.

Digressing from his prepared speech, the veteran politician told thousands of his ruling ZANU PF supporters who gathered for the Independence Day celebrations at the National Sports Stadium in Harare that minerals were non-renewable resources and that his government needed to maximise on the existing deposits, which were being exploited by foreigners.

"Takati tinoda kuita (We said we wanted) 50 or 51 percent in favour of Zimbabweans or the state and 49 percent in favour of investors," President Mugabe said.

Well, that's a great way to attract foreign investment....

Zim "asks" white farmers to return

 All but 300 of the 4,000 white farmers have been forced off their land since President Robert Mugabe started his "fast-track" land reform in 2000.

A farmers' leader says some 200 applications have already been made and more are coming in.

Critics say the reforms have devastated the economy and led to massive hunger.

Foreign currency

Much of the formerly white-owned land is no longer being productively used - either because the beneficiaries have no experience of farming or they lack finance and tools.

Many farms were wrecked when they were invaded by government supporters.
What's the old proverb? Fool me once, shame onyou...  Fool me twice, shame on me...

Saturday, April 22, 2006

There is enough food...

GOVERNMENT will ensure Zimbabwe remains peaceful and people have enough food, especially the majority in rural areas, Vice President Joice Mujuru said yesterday.

Cde Mujuru said she had a programme of visiting rural areas to assess the situation on the ground and see how Government can assist to improve their standard of living. The Vice President said she would continue her tour next month. "My priority is to make sure there is enough food for families in the countryside and that each and every one of our nationals live in peace. We want people to understand what the Government is doing to better their lives," she said.

Can the military run Zim's economy?

...The mind boggles at the concept that those trained in warfare and defence should become the supremos of the economy. What on earth does their background, training and experience include that has any bearing on formulating, guiding and driving the diverse elements of an economy, ranging from agriculture to mining, from manufacturing to tourism, from trading to finance, and much else? How can expertise in national defence be constructively applied to facilitating, enabling and motivating economic well-being?

Although Zimbabwe has pronounced scarcities of many items, ranging from petroleum to maize meal, medications and consumables in state hospitals, it has an overwhelming surplus, and that is of rumours, many of which are wholly without foundation, and most of the others being greatly exaggerated, but nevertheless a few that are of substance. Among the rumours currently in circulation is one that the ZNSC is now overseeing the operations of the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra). Should that be so, it is incongruous in the extreme.

What on earth does the army know about taxation, internal controls, audit and the like? Surely the responsibility for oversight of Zimra should vest in the Ministry of Finance and the Auditor-General and, if necessary, the Ministry of Anti-Corruption and the National Economic Conduct Inspectorate....

I would agree with the writer..the army is a stooge for protecting Mugabe and will only continue his failed policies.

But you know, the writer is wrong in thinking that an army could not run the economy...a major skill in a good military is logistics, being able to feed and clothe and shelter the army, keeping supplies flowing, building bridges, building houses and fortifications, starting gardens and raising animals for food to feed the army etc.
Armies tend to be bullies when left lose, but a good army is quite practical, realizing that if you kill the cow (or destroy the factory or confiscate the mine) then you won't have milk next week from the dead cow...
The question is if the military is so contaminated by socialistic theory and political corruption and general incompetency that they cannot do this. Not knowing much about Zim's military I cannot answer that question...

"Shared Vision" will turn around economcy

....In his address, the President acknowledged t hat Zimbabwe's economy had suffered from the effects of drought and sanctions, resulting in shortages of food, medical drugs, electricity supply and steep rises in prices of basic commodities. "In response to these challenges, Government has adopted the National Economic Development Priority Programme to stabilise the economy in the next to six to nine months by focusing on food security and increasing agricultural production, foreign currency generation and mobilisation through the full utilisation of the idle capacity in all sectors of our economy, accompanied by aggressive marketing of Zimbabwe as a conducive investment destination," President Mugabe said.'re taking over all the mines from outside investors, but you expect them to invest more money? HELLO...

...Minister Gumbo, who chaired the Press conference, started by chronicling the background to NEDPP, which took him close to 30 minutes. As he went through the document, all faces were filled with great enthusiasm....

A thirty minute speech...MEGO....must look enthusiastic...must look enthusiastic...zzzz....

One couldn't help the feeling that the new plan would completely change the face of the economy. From the captains of industry led by Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries president Mr Patison Sithole, to the ministers -- among them Dr Herbert Murerwa, Mr Didymus Mutasa, Mr Kembo Mohadi -- and the Reserve Bank governor Dr Gideon Gono, it was just what the doctor ordered.

Mr Gumbo did not monopolise the Press conference but opened it to his colleagues to add their voice to the new document jointly crafted by the Government and the private sector. After the conference, my mind was refreshed. I was filled with renewed hope that our economy can be revived within a very short space of time, not completely turned around, but we expect some positive developments. The perceptions that I had before have completely vanished. I thought disappointingly that I have not been playing my role, either in my capacity as a journalist or as a patriotic Zimbabwean to help revive the economy.

You're right. Any journalist who writes this type of asskissing article is NOT helping your country...

Forget about foreign currency shortages or inflation hovering over 900 percent, our economy is still vibrant and requires a little push to bring it back to its former glory. However, the biggest challenge, and one that could undermine the noble goals of this document, might be lack of commitment by stakeholders in particular and Zimbabweans in general.

There is need for shared vision and to adopt unity of purpose. It's high time we buried our differences and start working towards a common goal. Yes, on paper, the NEDPP, is quite excellent just like -- I suppose -- itspredecessors, but effective and collective implementation is the key, anchored by a common vision. Implementation should not be left to President Mugabe or his Vice Presidents, Ministers Gumbo and Murerwa or Dr Gono but should be embraced by the totality of all Zimbabweans, who should join hands and pull in the same direction. Everyone has a role to play if we are to turn around the economy. .... Any details?

Viomak to remake anti Mugabe record

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Shady economic body news

THE shadowy Cuban-style Zimbabwe National Security Council (ZNSC) was recently set up to run the country’s economy on a crisis-management basis — 26 years after the start of self-rule.

The move indicates a virtual state of emergency in Zimbabwe’s economy, confirms the government’s policy paralysis and reflects panic in the corridors of power.

But it also shows government’s implicit awareness of the potentially devastating political consequences of the current economic meltdown. The ZNSC, chaired by President Robert Mugabe, runs the economy on an emergency basis — as in Cuba, where “anguish committees” manage the economy. Mugabe referred to the initiative yesterday during his keynote address at the country’s 26th anniversary of independence from Britain. At the same event, he made a stunning claim that the economy, which has shrunk by a cumulative 35% in the past six years, will grow between 1% and 2% this year. No one believes this, and it would be shocking if Mugabe does.

The Cuban economy is run by a Council of State, backed by committees, although the government has devolved some authority to ministries and enterprises in recent years. Under the slogan “Socialism or Death”, the Cuban regime continues to proclaim Cuba a socialist state with an economy organised under Marxist-Leninist principles. Most means of production are owned and run by the government. About 75% of the labour force is employed directly by the state.

Mugabe tried to do this and failed and now wants to try it again, although this time it is crisis management rather than socialist principles that are driving the process. In October 1990, Cuban leader Fidel Castro said his country had entered a “special period in time of peace” and that the economy would function as if in a time of war until the crisis had been resolved.

This appears to be the mentality within the Zimbabwean government. The ZNSC will run the economy like Cuba’s Council of State until the current crisis disappears, something unlikely if no fundamental political and economic reforms are undertaken. Cuba learnt this the hard way.

In Zimbabwe, the state security establishment now effectively runs the economy as it cross-cuts the emergency subcommittees which have been set up to perform a rescue operation. This confirms the view that the Central Intelligence Organisation and the Joint Operations Command — comprising the intelligence service, army, police and prisons — now virtually run the country and are involved in a whole gamut of nonsecurity issues.

The state security establishment has no credible economic knowledge, capacity or the means to pull Zimbabwe out of the morass. The situation requires a political solution and economic measures supported by the international community. The ZNSC initiative only validates the view of a police state in Zimbabwe run by the state security apparatus. Government bureaucracy is already heavily militarised. Serving or retired army officers can be found in government departments, parastatals, electoral institutions and quasigovernment organisations performing the roles of civilians.

Military rule takes various forms, which include army control where the generals direct events from barracks, arbitration in which the army comes in as conflict manager between political parties or the government and opposition parties, and army veto where the military vetoes some civilian decisions. There are also crypto-military democracies in which it is difficult to tell where army interventions end and civilian rule begins.

Anecdotal evidence shows the military might be pulling the strings in civilian government issues, but there is still no decisive proof that army authority has taken root and is now the basis of governance in Zimbabwe.

There are clear signs of the executive’s erosion of confidence in public officials, and the encroachment of armed forces — apparently by invitation — in civilian matters. While this might serve Mugabe’s self-preservation needs at the moment, it creates problems for future governments which may have to struggle to uproot an entrenched military culture in civilian government.

The ZNSC will not be able to reverse the economic decline in the present circumstances — not in a “thousand years” as central bank governor Gideon Gono recently observed, in an eerie echo of former Rhodesian leader Ian Smith’s comment on the prospects of majority rule in Zimbabwe in 1965.

‖Muleya is Harare correspondent and Zimbabwe Independent news editor.

Dafur update: China&Russia block sanctions

Translation: They want Sudan's oil...

So who cares if a couple hundred thousand are killed...

The Zim-China honeymoon is over

When Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe visited China last July, he received the full red-carpet treatment, in contrast to his pariah status in most of the Western world.

....Mr Mugabe, a Marxist and admirer of Mao Zedong since his political youth, told Zimbabweans on Independence Day: "We have turned East, where the sun rises, and given our back to the West, where the sun sets."

But last weekend The Zimbabwe Independent editorialised: "The deals that he trumpeted then have yet to come to fruition. The Chinese dream is collapsing."

Although Zimbabwe, which is celebrating the 26th anniversary of its independence from Britain, was accorded "approved tourism destination status", few Chinese comrades have been attracted.

Arrivals have declined 70 per cent since state-owned Air Zimbabwe began flying to Beijing last year, and the operations to "where the sun rises" are now running rivers of red, losing more than $1 million a month.

A claimed deal through which China would finance a thermal power station and provide a loan to keep the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority afloat has not materialised. Electronic firms and agro-processing plants that were also supposed to be coming from China have failed to arrive.

The Independent said: "We warned that the euphoria about 'looking East' would not benefit the country as long as Zimbabwe did not have foreign currency and was instead reducing itself to a dumping ground for substandard Chinese goods.

"The reality was that nothing would come Zimbabwe's way on the house. The Chinese, like any economic power, demand international commercial rates for whatever services they render Zimbabwe."....

Monday, April 17, 2006

Celebrating the revolution

Speech starts out with the usual propaganda about the revolution, but then goes on:

What is so unique about the Zimbabwean economic meltdown is that it is human-made by the misrule, incompetence, dictatorship, corruption and lack of vision of Zanu PF under the leadership of Robert Mugabe. The Zimbabwean people demand better custodians and defenders of their independence and freedom than this regime, whose activities are a negation of the principles and values of the liberation struggle.

Another earthquake hits Zim

this one only 5.4..

Aussie MacGill to boycott Zim on cricket tour

LEG spinner Stuart MacGill believes his touring days are over after he announced that he would boycott next year's trip to Zimbabwe....

MacGill made himself unavailable for Australia's tour of Zimbabwe in 2004 on moral grounds, and believes the political interference in the African country's cricket has only gone further downhill.....

"Unfortunately, the current Zimbabwean side seems to be agreeing with everything their team-mates in the past have said, and it is a disappointing situation for world cricket really because there is a great deal to be gained in African cricket outside of South Africa," he said.

"Hopefully it is only

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Egelund: It's not foreign aid unless it goes into my pretty little hands

The assumption that "aid" has to be official (government to government or via UN organizations) ignores the idea of subsidarity: That aid is most efficient and humane when it goes from small organizations to people via other small organizations.

Barone points out that Egelund ignores this:

Hudson Institute research tallied over $35 billion in private foreign aid for 2000 (the last year such figures were tabulated). That's three and one-half times U.S. government aid for that year. And even this large amount low-balls American contributions abroad, as it does not include giving by local U.S. churches or donations by overseas affiliates of U.S. corporations.

The common measure used by the U.N. and European countries–the percent of gross national income used for foreign aid–counts only government foreign aid. It does not fully take into account private giving for those in need abroad. This "donor performance measure" may have been appropriate when established in the 1950s, but it is outmoded today. For it omits the overwhelming growth in international private philanthropy.

The 2004 Foundation Center publication, International Grantmaking III, reports that international foundation giving grew much faster than overall giving between 1998 and 2002. The share of dollars for international causes has also risen to 14 percent of total foundation giving, up from 11 percent in 1998. The funding outlook for U.S. foundation giving remains strong, and half of all American corporate givers plan increases.

Adelman reports that American private contributions to charitable relief totaled at least $324 million, with many religious and other organizations' contributions not included. And she makes the case for private giving:

In essence, foreign aid is privatizing–just as transportation, energy and telecommunications have been privatized in many parts of the world. As economic growth has increased in developing nations, so have local charities, business philanthropy and community foundations.

There is a lot to say for private giving. For too long, commitment to the poor abroad has been measured by how much is spent, rather than how well. Private giving is usually faster, more nimble, more direct and accountable. It uses less overhead than expensive government consultants, and can better avoid interference by corrupt officials in countries afflicted by natural disasters, such as tsunamis and earthquakes.

By needing to raise their own funds and volunteers, private philanthropy stands a kind of market test, which is not required by unelected government and international bureaucrats.

Mugabe backs a nuclear Iran

...The radio station reported: "President Robert Mugabe has thrown his weight behind Iran in the current dispute where the United States and her allies are opposing Iran's nuclear enrichment programme.

"President Mugabe said like Iran, Zimbabwe lives in a free world where all nations are equal, as stated by the United Nations charter."

The radio station reported that Mugabe's government and Iran "will continue to relate together in meaningful ways and seek ways to strengthen the existing ties".

Iran was recently involved in upgrading equipment at Zimbabwe's national broadcaster....

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Rape cases on the rise

RAPE is on the increase countrywide with at least 75 percent of the reported cases in Harare Province being withdrawn for various reasons to protect perpetrators, a senior police officer has said.

Officer commanding Harare Province Senior Assistant Commissioner Edmore Veterai said some of the cases were not reported to the police because the victims were threatened with death, or feared to lose their breadwinners while others were lured by their assailants into dropping charges with promises of marriage. However, he said there was need for stiffer penalties for both perpetrators and those who influenced victims to withdraw cases....

Smuggler caught

HARARE: A Zimbabwean court has denied bail to a Motswana man who was arrested last week on allegations of attempting to smuggle 30 cartons of cigarettes from Zimbabwe to South Africa.

Hmmm...four digit inflation, rampant government corruption, thousands of refugees, babies dying of malnutrition, 700,000 displaced by government decree, and the economy in collapse...
But they managed to catch a guy with a month's worth of cigarettes...

Way to go, Mugabe...

China in Africa: Good or bad?

TWENTY-TWO percent of South African business owners have attributed the decrease in their output to China’s economic growth, while 15% credit their profits to the Asian country, says a Grant Thornton survey released this week.

China was perceived as the biggest threat to business by 28% of business owners, while 6% and 4% respectively believed that Zimbabwe and India posed a threat to SA business.

The majority of the businesses that cited China as a threat to their future were based in Durban and Pietermartizburg, where the textile industry had been negatively affected by “cheap” Chinese imports.

The research was carried out among 7000 owners of medium-sized businesses in a range of industries in 30 countries, including 300 in SA, between September 1 and October 31 last year.

On average, a majority of South African business owners (61%) reported that the Chinese boom had had no impact on their operations. Only 13% of businesses perceived China as an opportunity, while 6% and 5% believed that the US and the UK respectively would still provide opportunities for SA .

Manufacturing sector companies which regarded China as the greatest threat led the pack, at 53%, with retailers following at 24%, construction companies at 23% and the services sector at 11%.

Leonard Brehm, Grant Thornton SA’s national chairman, said only 37% of South African businesses reported import or export as part of their business. The top three trade partners of this group were Namibia, Zimbabwe and Botswana.

“This shows that the regional focus of the South African market will not feel the full impact of the Chinese economic boom for some time” Brehm said.

He said the world was adapting to China’s economic growth. East Asia, for example, was more receptive to trade with the country while Europe was more cautious about embracing the trade opportunities China presented. Countries such as Thailand, Turkey and Poland also felt the Chinese boom had adversely affected them....

Firm cuts off food shipments to two Bulawayo hospitals

A major supplier of patients’ food to Mpilo and United Bulawayo Hospitals has cut off grocery supplies to the two hospitals.

Sources said Willsgrove Farm Enterprises, which has a tender to provide the two hospitals with food stuffs from its supermarkets and vegetables from its fresh produce farms, stopped delivering food at the end of last month after the two hospitals had accumulated debts.

Supplies to Ingutsheni Central Hospital were not affected as the hospital was making efforts to pay its arrears.

Food supplies to patients have been erratic since deliveries stopped, a source said, adding it was a matter of time before stocks run out unless the debts are settled and supplies resumed.

“The company has suspended all its food supplies to the hospital and will only resume supplies on condition that the hospital clears the hefty amount owing,” said a source at Mpilo.

Fewer leprosy cases in Zim

There isn't a lot of leprosy in Zimbabwe...
One of the sisters that I worked with had worked in a leper colony in the 1940's-1950's but when Dapsone etc. came around, the few cases were treated outpatient.

I only saw one case in three years there...he had a light spot that was numb...and I asked this sister to diagnose it...she said it was leprosy, and the skin biopsy confirmed it, so he was sent home on treatment.

Fee hikes force more children out of school

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

American Enterprise Institute report

Pro business, libertarian think tank discusses land reform, including a lot about Zim.

The silent cries of the little ones

Of all the millions of Zimbabweans who have fallen victim to ZANU PF mis-rule the malnourished children under the age of five must surely rank as the most pathetic. They cry from hunger and deprivation, and the cries rend the hearts of their mothers, or if already orphaned, the hearts of their stand-in mothers, who have little or no food to give them. But because they are the most vulnerable group of all and have no means of collectively giving voice to the deep anguish they feel, their individual cries go unheard by those who could make a difference - the ruling politicians and their apparatchiks.
Be silent Zimbabweans, and listen - with care !
Can you not hear the cries of the little ones
condemned by your inhumanity to die of starvation,
or, at the least, never to reach their God-given potential -
rather to live stunted half-lives ?
Can you not hear the cries of the little ones -
for mercy ?
Not to mention justice.

One group of professionals who are alert to the tragedy is the country's paediatricians and health care workers who have the daily task of tending the severely malnourished and often dying little ones. At a recent workshop in Harare organized by Doctors for Human Rights a number of papers were presented by practitioners who are deeply troubled by current trends resulting from the crisis levels of poverty and food deprivation and the regime's refusal to engage seriously with the issue. One paper was entitled "Severe child malnutrition: an unnecessary and avoidable crisis".

The problem is not a new one, but it is growing. A study carried out at a Harare hospital in 2003-4 showed that 55 per cent of children admitted then were suffering from malnutrition. Since that time the regime has significantly reduced the amount of feeding the international community is permitted to do through the World Food Programme and its local agencies, and in May 2005 it embarked on the notorious Operation Murambatsvina, dubbed "a catastrophic injustice ... to Zimbabwe's poorest citizens" by none other than Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations. At the same time, as agricultural production within the country has plummeted to all-time lows, the regime has failed conspicuously to import anything like the quantity of maize required to compensate for the deficit and feed the population. The result has been a predictable intensification of the suffering, especially of vulnerable groups like the under-fives....

read it and weep...

Feminists want gender sensitivity in Zim media

During a presentation of the study FAMWZ national director, Sinikiwe Msipa-Ndebele, said: "Gender violence tends to get more coverage especially in cases where incidents are bizarre, gross or put women in bad light. In most cases gender-based violence is treated as less important in the news hierarchy."

She said the study revealed that stereotyping characterised the majority of news reports, most of which are extracted from courts.

According to the study, types of gender violence that received coverage were rape, sexual assault and child abuse at 13,3% and 18,7% respectively.

The victims of gender-based violence said the study, were mostly women at 86,7% while perpetrators were men at 83,9%.

The study bemoaned the emphasis of the stories because they blamed women for the violence they suffered.

Activists said it was time to uplift the status of women and hoped that the Domestic Violence Bill would address domestic violence....

I support this type of thing...but what makes me cyinical is that in an unfree country where laws are not followed it seems that more laws is not the answer to the problem...


THERE is need to promote gender equality to enable women to fully contribute to national development, Canada's ambassador to Zimbabwe Ms Roxanne Dubé has said.

She was speaking during the commissioning of the $8,7 billion Women's Hides and Skin Collection Marketing project in Mutoko, Mashonaland East Province, last Friday. The project was funded through the Zimbabwe Progress Fund (ZPF), a non-profit organisation that seeks to economically empower women in rural areas and disadvantaged communities.

The women are expected to produce handbags, belts, sandals and various other leather products, which can even be exported to earn the country foreign currency. "This project can serve as a model for other initiatives which are seeking to promote gender equality in the private sector. "We need to do more to recognise the critical contribution women make in developing the country," Ambassador Dubé said. The project is expected to benefit over 16 000 people in Mutoko and Gokwe, where it started...

Good for them...hope the hides don't have Anthrax in them

Tsvangirai rallies anti-Mugabe protests

Tsvangirai dramatically raised the political stakes in the southern African country last month by threatening to lead peaceful demonstrations to oust President Robert Mugabe, 82 and in power since Zimbabwe's independence from Britain in 1980. Mugabe has warned Tsvangirai -- leader of the main faction of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) -- that he would be "dicing with death" with such a campaign, but the MDC boss has remained defiant.

Yup...death for peaceful protests....

Unless this headline is correct:

Tsvangirai calls for lawlessness in Zimbabwe

Monday, April 10, 2006

Fickle donors neglect Africa's wars

From the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to Sudan, global donors are turning their backs on Africa's worst conflict zones, setting back efforts to stem the killing and ushering in lasting peace, Jan Egeland, the United Nations' humanitarian chief, said today.

Egeland said donors had only come up with a fifth of the funding needed this year for both the DRC and southern Sudan, where brutal wars have killed and displaced millions. "Sudan and Congo are the two worst wars of our generation," Egeland said. "The accumulated death toll is several times that of Rwanda's genocide for each. We have to stay the marathon and we are not. We are not adequately able to finish the job, and that means funding the return of refugees and displaced people and demobilising and giving jobs to the fighters," he added.

It's easier to blame "fickle donors" than to blame the UN for it's failures and the local governments for their corruption and failure to aid their own people.
In English, this type of blaming is described by the saying is "Biting the hand that feeds you"...

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Zim: Gov't Spooks to run economy

N an implicit recognition of the deteriorating economic crisis, government has established emergency sub-committees under the shadowy Cuban-style Zimbabwe National Security Council (ZNSC) to run the economy as part of measures to arrest a worsening meltdown.

Official documents reveal that the state security establishment will run the economy as it cross-cuts the emergency sub-committees that have been set up to perform a rescue operation.

This confirms the view that the Central Intelligence Organisation and the Joint Operations Command which comprises the intelligence service, army, police, prisons and registrar-general's office, now effectively run the country and are involved in a gamut of issues from security to the economy.

Government bureaucracy is already heavily militarised.

The Cuban economy is run by a Council of State assisted by committees, although the government has devolved some authority to ministries and enterprises in recent years.

The move, sources said, exposes growing desperation within government over the deteriorating economic crisis.

Observers said this week the latest development validates the view of a growing police state in Zimbabwe run by the security apparatus.

The command economy, they said, will become more entrenched again as shown by the return of price controls this week.

The ZNSC, chaired by President Mugabe, and the existence of which was first revealed in this newspaper, instructed chief secretary to the president and cabinet, Misheck Sibanda, at a meeting on March 17 "to establish sub-committees that will provide technical inputs covering various structural and sectoral issues".

Sibanda is also chairman of the newly set up Technical Committee of Experts which will coordinate activities of the ZNSC, a key part of the recently established National Economic Development Priority Plan.

The Sibanda team duly formed its taskforces under the National Economic Recovery Committee (NERC) at a meeting held on March 20.

There have been numerous economic recovery plans, all of which have failed....

Yup...copy Cuba as an example...
If you don't speak Spanish, HERE is a discussion about the problem:

In yet another measure to curb the Cuban creativity and innate capitalist nature, the Cuban government has prohibited the transport of pigs from Holguín into Havana. Why? Well to avoid Cubans re-selling the pork! God forbid they actually make a profit, and have money to then buy food!

However, the measure seems to have backfired as now the price of pork has sky rocketed to 25 Cuban pesos a pound ready to use and to 17 Cuban pesos the raw pound. Keep in mind a months salary for a typical Cuban is somewhere between 100-200 pesos...

But there is a catch, you can buy the pork if you can find it!. Cubans are unhappy with the new measures since they are upset with the governments inability to stock up food for sale....

If you eliminate "contraband" food, it seems we have one malnourished nation. But who cares? After all they are still selling those energy efficient rice cookers, and pots like there wasn't a problem. When the real problem is about food and the freedom to obtain it.

Critics doubt Zim gov't sincere in implementing human rights

...Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe national director Alouis Chaumba said government wants to portray an image of compliance with international standards but without sincerity. ...

"Although a human rights commission is urgently required in Zimbabwe, to introduce it in the form of an 18th patch on Zimbabwe's tattered, torn, and shabby constitution, is in itself a mockery of the noble concept of human rights protection," NCA spokesperson Jessie Majome said in a statement. She said to establish a commission under the current constitution would be a futile exercise.

"What use will the commission be when the declaration of rights in the same constitution is so narrow and shallow as to give rights with the left hand and claw them back with the right hand - hence the flourishing of fascist laws such as the notorious Posa and Aippa?" Majome said....

Kuwait, Algeria donate food to Zim

thank you, thank you very much...

ah, but didn't you know that the Zim government claims no one has died of hunger in Zim?

Speaking at a ceremony in Harare to receive a gift of 2 000 tonnes of rice from the Algerian government Goche said: "We have not as a country witnessed incidences of starvation-induced deaths."

Goche's statement is in sharp contrast with reports from humanitarian aid agencies and local government authorities alleging citizens were succumbing to hunger and malnutrition-related illnesses both in rural and urban areas....

Life is shortest in Zimbabwe

LONDON, April 7 (Reuters) - Life in Zimbabwe is shorter than anywhere else in the world, with neither men nor women expected to live to 40, World Health Organisation statistics showed on Friday.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Are HIV rates in Africa lower than previously reported?

Years of HIV overestimates, researchers say, flowed from the long-held assumption that the extent of infection among pregnant women who attended prenatal clinics provided a rough proxy for the rate among all working-age adults in a country. Working age was usually defined as 15 to 49. These rates also were among the only nationwide data available for many years, especially in Africa, where health tracking was generally rudimentary.

The new studies show, however, that these earlier estimates were skewed in favor of young, sexually active women in the urban areas that had prenatal clinics. Researchers now know that the HIV rate among these women tends to be higher than among the general population.

The new studies rely on random testing conducted across entire countries, rather than just among pregnant women, and they generally require two forms of blood testing to guard against the numerous false positive results that inflated early estimates of the disease. These studies also are far more effective at measuring the often dramatic variations in infection rates between rural and urban people and between men and women.

UNAIDS, the agency headed since its creation in 1995 by Peter Piot, a Belgian physician, produced its first global snapshot of the disease in 1998. Each year since, the United Nations has issued increasingly dire assessments: UNAIDS estimated that 36 million people around the world were infected in 2000, including 25 million in Africa. In 2002, the numbers were 42 million globally, with 29 million in Africa.

But by 2002, disparities were already emerging. A national study in the southern African country of Zambia, for example, found a rate of 15.6 percent, significantly lower than the U.N. rate of 21.5 percent. In Burundi, which borders Rwanda in central East Africa, a national study found a rate of 5.4 percent, not the 8.3 percent estimated by UNAIDS.

In West Africa, Sierra Leone, just then emerging from a devastating civil war, was found to have a national prevalence rate of less than 1 percent -- compared with an estimated U.N. rate of 7 percent.

Such disparities, independent researchers say, skewed years of policy judgments and decisions on where to spend precious health-care dollars.

"From a research point of view, they've done a pathetic job," said Paul Bennell, a British economist whose studies of the impact of AIDS on African school systems have shown mortality far below what UNAIDS had predicted. "They were not predisposed, let's put it that way, to weigh the counterevidence. They were looking to generate big bucks."

The United Nations started to revise its estimates in light of the new studies in its 2004 report, reducing the number of infections in Africa by 4.4 million, back to the total four years earlier of 25 million. It also gradually decreased the overall infection rate for working-age adults in sub-Saharan Africa, from 9 percent in a 2002 report to 7.2 percent in its latest report, released in November.

Peter Ghys, an epidemiologist who has worked for UNAIDS since 1999, acknowledged in an interview from his office in Geneva that HIV projections several years ago were too high because they relied on data from prenatal clinics.

But Ghys said the agency made the best estimates possible with the information available. As better data emerged, such as the new wave of national population studies, it has made revisions where necessary, he said....

Translation: City clinics included many single women/prostitutes with high HIV rates.

...the statistics however were not accurate because it was assumed that the rates in this small population was the same as that in rural areas...

Such statistical skewering is common even in the USA, where monogamous Baptist ladies are told "anyone can catch HIV" when their chances of catching it are zilch unless they had a blood transfusion in the early 1980's...

You see, it is behavior that spreads HIV...telling traditional doctors to clean their knives and needles with Chlorox and telling people to return to traditional monogamy/polygamy is not politically correct...and don't tell me about tropical countries where it is hot and humid, condoms tend to burst, a dirty little secret that noone wants to notice...

(headsup from DanDrezner)

MannFriday releases Song of Zim

Come near me, hear me, take a little time to stare me in the eyes, and
realise this current state of hate wont wait for the change from
another life. So lift your hands and understand this land though dry
just needs your tears and cries, when every back that is broken has
spoken, the angel awoken, bring kings of another time.

Backbeat the word is on the street, that the fires in our hearts are
out, but battered and bruised people never choose to shout out unless
their own lives feel the blues. Whose shoes do you wear when you
stare, with your diplomatic airs, cos I don't care for statements,
things won't ease with a press release. And the man on the street
can't eat the pretense.

Fence me in but don't begin to deny - that as time slips by you grow a
little tired of the same old issues, longer food queues the way you
live a poor and lonely life. An eye for an eye but what if the
enemy's blind and has no heart or mind, you gotta fight with your head
instead, forget your reddened past you left behind.

No matter what result the cult will quote the vote is soaked in years
of tears streaming out the eyes of a people trying to rise just to
realise they're dreaming of freedom if even the price is too high to
justify the next child that dies, next prison cell cries, the way to
stop or start the very motherland's heart, but you can be a part and
face the fear in your eyes . . . its time to rise.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Zim working on biodiversity

ZIMBABWE is taking concrete action to review and further integrate bio-diversity considerations in the development and implementation of the three Rio Conventions and national sustainable development through the ecosystem approach to biodiversity conservation, Minister of Environment and Tourism Cde Francis Nhema has said.

He was speaking in Curitiba, Brazil at the 8th Conference of Parties for the Convention of Biological Diversity. He said Zimbabwe had learnt that local communities often conserved valuable biological resources and not the outsiders. "More often than not, local communities have their own methods of conserving biodiversity. Organising communities through their traditional leaders is often effective in conserving biodiversity," said Cde Nhema...

"On agro-biodiversity, my Government is promoting the conservation and sustainable utilisation of plant generic resources for food and agriculture in the country. "My country is promoting the revival of the 'Zunde RaMambo' (Chief's Silo) concept in recognising the role of traditional leaders in grain storage schemes. Cde Nhema said the concept was also being extended to tree planting programmes to recognise traditional leaders in tree planting and maintenance of biodiversity. Legislation, he said, played a key role in Zimbabwe in mainstreaming the goals of the strategic plan of the convention and a number of key steps had been taken to implement the objectives of the convention....

Bleak future for children with a double burden

....According to the National Aids Council (NAC), a government body, Zimbabwe's orphan population has grown from 345,000 just under a decade ago to some 1.3 million today. About 165,000 of these children are infected with HIV - and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) estimates that just over 20,000 need ARVs. However, only 2,000 are receiving the life-prolonging medication.

"Both national HIV/AIDS plans and poverty reduction strategies (in Zimbabwe and various other nations in sub-Saharan Africa) are stronger on proposed policy actions than on budget allocations and clear statements of targets to be achieved for children, young people and HIV/AIDS," said a December 2004 report by the World Bank and UNICEF, titled 'Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers: Do they matter for young people made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS?'.

"The situation of children who have been orphaned or made vulnerable by AIDS receives little attention," added the document.

These words are echoed by Festo Kavishe, UNICEF's representative in Zimbabwe.

"There remains an urgent need to boost prevention, care and treatment programmes in Zimbabwe, ensuring the rights of orphans, while preventing HIV infection in infants and young children," he said.

The plight of HIV-positive orphans reflects the situation in society at large.

According to UNICEF, about 1.6 million of the approximately 13 million Zimbabweans have contracted HIV. Just over 340,000 require anti-retroviral treatment, but only a fraction of these persons are on ARVs.

"There is still a huge gap between those who need and those under anti-retroviral therapy (ART)," Health and Child Welfare Minister David Parirenyatwa said recently.

"By December 2005 only 26,000 were on ARVs. Of these, 20,000 were on government ART programmes, while the remainder were being taken care of by the private sector."

Latest figures from the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) put adult prevalence in Zimbabwe at 24.6 percent. However, the 'AIDS Epidemic Update' for 2005, published by UNAIDS and the World Health Organisation, also notes a drop in HIV prevalence among pregnant women from 26 percent in 2002 to 21 percent in 2004....

Zim Army takes over food production

JOHANNESBURG, 5 April (IRIN) - The military has taken control of food production by small-scale farmers in parts of southern Zimbabwe, a rights NGO headed by church leaders claimed on Wednesday.The Solidarity Peace Trust alleged that under the guise of Operation Taguta/Sisuthi or 'Operation Eat Well', launched last year to help revive the agriculture sector, army units have "hijacked" plots and maize harvests in the southern province of Matabeleland, leaving the smallholder-farmers with no income or food."The fact that they have taken away the farmers' food, which is rightfully theirs - produced by their hard labour - is a hugely immoral issue," commented Bishop Rubin Phillip, the Anglican Bishop of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. Phillip chairs the trust, along with Pius Ncube, the Archbishop of Bulawayo in Zimbabwe....

"Plot-holders perceive that they are being treated as indentured labour, with no rights and no claim over the produce they have laboured all summer to produce," the report commented.The soldiers, insisting that only maize could be grown on the plots, have destroyed vegetable gardens and fruits trees that supplemented the incomes and diet of small-scale farmers during the lean season, alleged Dowling. "This destruction has turned plot-holders into paupers overnight."Soldiers with limited knowledge of agriculture had spent more than a month tilling the land for the farmers, which delayed maize planting, the church leaders alleged. In some cases, the farmers were unable to make use of the good rains this year - "the best in 20 years" - and had failed to plant at all, Dowling said....

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Baby Dumping

THE first time Knowledge Mbanda found a dead baby in the drains of Harare, he was horrified. “It is completely against our culture to abandon children,” he said. “I thought it must be of a woman who had been raped or a prostitute.”

But now he and fellow council workers find at least 20 corpses of newborn babies each week, thrown away or even flushed down the lavatories of Zimbabwe’s capital.

The dumping of babies, along with what doctors describe as a “dramatic” increase in malnourished children in city hospitals, is the most shocking illustration of the economic collapse of a country that was once the breadbasket of southern Africa.

Some of the corpses are the result of unwanted pregnancies in a country experiencing a rise in sexual abuse and prostitution. But others are newborns dumped by desperate mothers unable to support another child. Inflation has reached 1,000% and the government’s seizure of 95% of commercial farms has seen food production plummet.

The dead gutter babies are the most pitiful victims of a government that believes it can starve its people into compliance, or death, turning Zimbabwe into the only country in the region with a shrinking population.


Harare - Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe says a recent furore, sparked by proposed changes to legislation that could give the government a majority stake in mining companies, is "needless"......

Mugabe said: "There must be recognition that our minerals are a depleting and a non-renewable resource which we have allowed in the past to be wholly owned and exploited by foreign-owned companies.

"This will not be allowed in the future.".....

The amendments would give the government and local companies a 51 percent stake in all mining concerns.

International critics say this would provoke a crisis in a mining industry dominated by foreign players and the policy could spell disaster for the economy.

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