Wednesday, May 31, 2006

AI releases new photos of "cleanup" damage

The satellite images show the destruction of one settlement near Harare, which had contained some 850 structures before last May.

The human rights group says the photos are irrefutable evidence how entire communities were obliterated.

The UN says some 700,000 people were directly affected by the demolitions....

Porta Farm was established 16 years ago and contained about 850 structures, including schools, a children's centre and a mosque.

Amnesty says that last June, in the middle of winter, armed police arrived with bulldozers.

Porta Farm - that had been home to up to 20,000 people - was destroyed and the residents evicted.

Amnesty says that the images - taken last month - show the horrifying transition of an area from a vibrant community to rubble and shrubs in the space of less than a year.

"These satellite images are irrefutable evidence... that the Zimbabwean government has obliterated entire communities, completely erased them from the map, as if they never existed," Amnesty's Africa Programme director Kolawole Olaniyan said.

abstinence in Zim to prevent HIV

...I would say my behaviour is also influenced by my religion - I'm a Christian.

I don't tend to go to bars too much because my dad does not like me to go out and drink beer.

I live with him and he's so strict and full of the Holy Spirit - he'd know if I got up to any mischief, that's the problem.

Right now so many people are HIV in Zimbabwe.

A lot are dying and I just don't want to see myself dying like that.

My aunt died of Aids last December.

Once you've got Aids and people know about it, you die of stress, because most people begin to leave you alone and ignore you.

It's not a completely taboo subject; I do talk about HIV and condoms with some of my brothers, for example.

I'm not sure if sexual attitudes are changing altogether, but I tell you around the streets of Harare you will see lots of used condoms on the ground.


Tuesday, May 30, 2006

South Africa rejects Zim sanctions

South Africa ruled out imposing "smart" sanctions against neighbouring Zimbabwe, saying similar measures taken by the European Union had not brought any results, a top minister said.....

Asked if South Africa should not take stronger action, such as targeted sanctions against Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's government, she said those imposed by the EU had failed.

"It may not be a very useful tool to use right now because it doesn't seem to be yielding results, even in the hands of the most powerful block in the world," Dlamini Zuma said.

The United States and the EU have imposed travel and business restrictions against Mugabe and other top government officials.

Mugabe has no money to print money

Cash shortages have returned to haunt Zimbabweans. Banks started rationing money on Friday, allowing clients to withdraw only Zim$5 million (about US$49) to avert crowd trouble, but most ran out of mint-print, prompting desperate clients to form overnight queues outside.

Last month the government awarded civil servants hefty salary increases after the opposition Movement for Democratic Change urged them to join planned future demonstrations. Official sources said the recent 150 percent pay rise for soldiers, teachers, policemen and nurses had put a strain on money supply.

Reserve Bank officials told IRIN that plans to print about Zim$60 trillion (about US$592.9 million) were briefly delayed after the government failed to secure foreign currency to buy ink and special paper for printing money.

Monday, May 29, 2006

"Terrified" Mugabe tightens his grip

WHEN THE soldiers rolled past Lot Dube's land and set up camp, they told him and other farmers that all non-maize crops would be destroyed.

Their entire harvest would have to be sold to the Zimbabwean government's Grain Marketing Board so it could be used to purchase foreign currency.

It is the Mugabe regime's latest ploy to buy its way out of an economic crisis so severe that inflation is running at more than 1,000%, a record for an African nation supposedly not at war.

Dube, 63, who has farmed in the southern Insiza district since 1982, had to watch while the troops ploughed his market vegetables - onions, tomatoes and sweet potatoes that bring in money to pay for his children's school fees - into the ground.

There was little point complaining to the Grain Board; Robert Mugabe has recently put a military commander in charge of its operation.

With pressure now building both internally and externally on the 82-year-old president to save his country by removing himself from power, Mugabe is strengthening his grip over the country's rural masses. ...

Saturday, May 27, 2006

After Mugabe, donor aid must flow

Ummm....wouldn't it be better to encourage investment and good economic policies than to demand "donors" give you money in the future>

Zim contemplating mining takeover

......."Officials who attended the closed meeting said President Mugabe told the mining giant's officials that it would be premature to give them a concrete briefing on the indigenisation proposals because discussions were in early stages with the State still to adopt a policy.

Principle 'must be upheld'

"However, the officials said Cde Mugabe made it clear to the Rio Tinto executives that proposals for the state or indigenous Zimbabweans to control a 51 percent stake in mining firms was a principle that must be upheld," the Herald added.

The president reportedly explained that government was "borrowing the principle" from other countries such as Botswana and Namibia and emphasised that Zimbabwe's policy would recognise "the levels of investment in social responsibility by mining houses in determining ownership structures"....

Zim to "descend" on private schools

The government of Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe said it would "descend" on schools in the country that hiked fees without permission from the authorities, it was reported on Thursday.

The threat appears to be directed mainly at private schools, which are often run by trusts in Zimbabwe....Chigwedere told Parliament that "a number of schools, especially trust schools, had hiked fees or levies by more than the rise in the consumer price index or were charging day pupils more than 30% of what boarders were paying without special permission", the Herald said.

The threat will bring back memories of events in 2003, when more than a dozen schools were temporarily shut down and a number of headmasters of private schools were arrested because of high fees.

The authorities said the schools were "racist" and were trying to exclude black pupils.

Under recently introduced legislation schools are not allowed to charge day pupils more than 30% of full boarding fees, while fee hikes are supposed to be made in tandem with rises in the consumer price index.

Those found guilty of contravening the law are liable to a fine or a 12-month jail term. -- Sapa-dpa

Zim opposition leader asks UN to intervene

imbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai called on the United Nations on Friday to intervene in his homeland's political and economic crises.

The Zimbabwean government has rejected UN involvement, saying Secretary General Kofi Annan need not make a long-planned visit.

But Tsvangirai, speaking to reporters during a visit to London, said "The Zimbabwe crisis is an international crisis", and Annan should not be deterred.

Following talks in London with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, South African President Thabo Mbeki told reporters on Thursday that Annan had indicated in talks with him earlier this year that he would travel to Zimbabwe for direct talks with Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, and was expected to propose a package of aid in return for an assurance that Mugabe would hand over leadership. Neither he nor Blair would elaborate.

Mugabe has led Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980.

Annan had said last year that he would visit Zimbabwe at Mugabe's invitation. But no date has been set and UN officials have indicated planning the agenda and goals of such a visit is sensitive and difficult.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

No protests allowed

TheBeardedMan blog has a load of reports on civil rights related problems in Zim, from the censorship of protests to the last honest judge fleeing the country.

Remember destruction of homes and businesses

Churches in Bulawayo, as well as other churches in Zimbabwe, are commemorating the anniversary of Murambatsvina in their town with a peaceful procession of Christian witness, so that Zimbabwean citizens and the authorities will be reminded of this injustice and the consequent, enduring suffering.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Despite EU Threat, Many African countries use DDT

Malaria is still the leading killer disease in the world. Statistics show that in Africa, a person dies every 30 seconds from the disease.

The European Union is warning African nations that they will be sanctioned if they use DDT, the insecticide that environmentalists love to hate, in their fight against malaria. But, African nations argue it is the most effective and cheapest way to fight malaria....

Bono praised African mosquito net companies with their "modern technology" in fighting malaria in Africa in his recent visit to a bednetting plant...

Ummm...did YOU ever use a mosquito net? Without a bed?
And what about mosquitoes that bite while you are eating supper or going outside to move your bladder during the night?

Zimbabwe activists demand release of 103 arrested in demonstration

Harare: Zimbabwe activists yesterday pressed for the release of 103 people arrested last week in a protest against President Robert Mugabe's government, saying police had ignored advice from state lawyers to free the group.

The National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), an independent pressure group which has repeatedly seen protests quashed by police in recent years, said it might stage another march today to demand the release of their colleagues.

"The police are trying to force the group to pay admission-of-guilt fines but they have refused," NCA Chairman Lovemore Madhuku said.

"Our lawyers have filed an application for their release at the High Court but are failing to get a judge to hear the case."

Police swooped on the NCA march in Harare on Thursday, and arrested 103 participants for violating security laws. The NCA is demanding a new constitution to replace one it says Mugabe has manipulated to entrench his 26-year rule over Zimbabwe.

The arrests came amid a crackdown by Mugabe's security forces against his opponents, including the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change which has threatened to lead national protests against a collapsing economy....

Zim needs to make the country investor friendly

Zimbabwe's Chamber of Mines on Monday urged the government to create an investor-friendly, legal and fiscal regime in the country to encourage investment and expansion of current operations and greenfield projects.

Addressing delegates at the recent Chamber of Mines annual general meeting (AGM), Chamber president Jack Murehwa said negotiations with the government over the proposed Mines and Minerals Amendments were still ongoing.

"The chamber wishes to build on the principle of increasing the size of the cake and not concentrating on the size of today's slices," he said.

Mines and Mining Development Ministry in March announced the government's intention to increase the state's shareholding in foreign mines to 50 percent with 25 percent being free-carry.....

This article is from China's People's daily...even in China they now recognize you don't kill the goose that lays golden eggs...

A second China-Zim article is HERE:

THE once-tight relationship between Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe and China is beginning to fray as a series of unpaid bills for aircraft, engineering work and construction projects around the country begin to mount up.

At least half a dozen Chinese firms have suspended work on unrelated contracts around the country because they have not been paid.

At the same time, Zimbabwe's air ministry has defaulted on a $US12 million ($15.8 million) payment for two MA60 passenger jets it recently ordered from China's state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China.

A third aircraft, a gift from China, is standing forlornly on the runway, unable to fly because of a lack of spare parts.

"The current economic situation in the country has made it impossible for us to honour our debts," a Zimbabwean government spokesman said.

"The Chinese have been hit the hardest, since they are carrying out a number of projects in Zimbabwe."

China is virtually the only significant economic power that still has close economic and diplomatic ties with Harare....

Monday, May 22, 2006

Cholera hits northern Zim

A cholera outbreak has claimed 15 lives in a district 150 kilometers to the north of Harare, Zimbabwe's capital city, a local newspaper reported on Sunday.


Portia Manangazira, the acting co-ordinator in epidemiology and disease control in the Ministry of Health and Chils Welfare, was quoted by the newspaper as saying that the outbreak has been brought under control, but local media reported the new cases keep surfacing.

Manangazira said the ministry was yet to determine the source of the cholera. A total of 45 cases have been reported in the past two weeks while 15 have been fatal, she said.....

Zim opposition party keeps Harare seat

HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has retained a parliamentary seat in the capital Harare after by-elections held over the weekend....

Mugabe's ruling Zimbabwe National African Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party has lost to a united MDC in past elections in Budiriro by wide margins. The MDC has a strong following in Harare.

Tsvangirai's faction on Sunday said it would launch "democratic resistance" against Mugabe's long rule despite a warning from the octogenerian leader that any such move would be like "playing with fire".

"The result is a clear reflection of the people's commitment to the democratic struggle for political transformation," said Nelson Chamisa, a spokesman for Tsvangirai's faction.

"With Budiriro now out of the way, the next challenge is for us to refocus on democratic resistance," Chamisa said, without elaborating.

Chamisa alleged electoral fraud in the by-election but said that despite such measures the ruling party could only garner 24.9 percent of the vote against 75 percent by his party's candidate....

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Zimbabwe unions back strikes amid economic chaos

Terrible headline....sounds like the unions are deliberatly sabotaging the economy, not protesting bad economic policies that actually are the problem...

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's main labor federation, a key ally of the divided opposition movement, decided on Saturday to lead a national strike for higher wages as the economy teetered on the brink of collapse.

The meeting coincided with a Harare by-election expected to test the level of popular discontent with the ruling party ZANU-PF, accused by critics of driving the country deep into crisis with an annual inflation rate now topping 1,000 percent.

Zim predicts 500 000 tons of cotton to export

Council president Phineas Chingono said his council wanted to see cotton production increase from 330,000 tons to 500,000 tons.

"We want to return Zimbabwe to its status as the center for good quality cotton production," he said.

Chingono said that, with the increase in the number of players in the industry, Zimbabwe risked losing its status of producing a quality crop.

He said there was need for the government to put in place a regulatory framework to control the cotton industry and ensure itsgrowth.

Mutambara, 3 MPs Released From Police Custody

Bulawayo MDC dissident faction leader Professor Arthur Mutambara and three other MPs were released from police custody last night after spending a day behind bars following their arrest early yesterday while campaigning for candidate Gabriel Chaibva.

Zimdaily heard late last night that their lawyers had successfully negotiated their release.

The robotics professor was held in custody from 8:35am in filthy holding cells at Glen View police station together with former MP Gabriel Chaibva, Morgan Changamire, the deputy Organising Secretary and Priscilla Misihairabwi, the deputy Secretary General. The officials were arrested while on a road show in Budiriro where a by-election will be held today to elect a replacement for MDC MP Gilbert Shoko who passed on in February.


Thursday, May 18, 2006

Don't trust email to zim

A bill presented to the Zimbabwean parliament at the end of March will give the government a free hand to intercept its citizens’ phone calls, e-mail messages and letters without providing any credible safeguards, Reporters Without Borders said today after obtaining a copy of the bill, the text of which is now available on the organisation’s site (

“We fear the worst,” Reporters Without Borders said. “This bill will allow the authorities to place journalists and opposition politicians under surveillance without any control from the courts. It also directly threatens the local contacts of international media and NGOs. The government will have new tools to ensure that no embarrassing news or information crosses its borders.”

Zim pundit on Trashday anniversary

Go to link...there is no way I can summarize what is written.

Finding Religion?

Mark Twain once quipped about traveling preachers: "The more they spoke of Virtue, the more we checked our wallets"...
His joke implied that as they preached, they'd pick the money out of your pockets.

Well, Gateway Pundit writes that Socialists and others are finding religion in Zim.

Even top-ranking politicians in the ruling ZANU-PF, veterans of Zimbabwe's liberation war and former Socialists, have turned to God, perhaps gaining new respect as men and women of the cloth.

Vice-President Joseph Msika was recently ordained as a lay pastor in the Anglican church; second Vice-President Joyce Mujuru was promoted to captain in the Salvation Army; two cabinet ministers have applied to train as priests.

Even Emmerson Mnangagwa, the powerful former intelligence chief backed by many to succeed President Robert Mugabe despite his repeated poor showing at the ballot box, has announced he was 'born again'.

"I think their consciences are troubling them. They have a lot of tension and stress because they have no idea which way the country should be driven," suggested Prof Gordon Chavunduka, a sociologist and labour consultant.

It is difficult to escape Zimbabwe's new religious revival. The two songs topping the current music chart are gospel tunes; evangelical preachers are on TV daily; political rallies, and even military parades, are now enlivened with songs of praise....

Gee, they must be taking lessons from certain politicans from here in the Philippines....

Monday, May 15, 2006

Company discovers you can talk over the internet

....She said most companies did not fully utilise their data bandwidth. This unused bandwidth could be used for telephone calls. Companies paid a fixed charge for their data telecommunications, which would remain fixed no matter how much it was used for data transmissions and VoIP voice telephone calls.

“Voice over Internet Protocol’s biggest advantage is that it lowers telephone charges. The cost of bandwidth for the transmission of data is fixed and does not change with usage, as compared to telephone calls that are variable as there are charges for every call,” she said.
Because there were no charges for individual telephone calls using VoIP, the savings in telephone calls were considerable. Existing infrastructure, such as handsets and PABXs could still be used with VoIP. The only outlay was the initial one for the VoIP hardware.
Research had shown that the cost of the initial VoIP outlay could be recovered in saved telephone charges within as little as two months for some companies, with the longest period for such recovery being no more than 10 months....

How to prevent infants from dying

(Zimbabwe is not mentioned in this article)

Successful countries have made it a priority to provide prenatal care, birth attendants and immunization programs to prevent tetanus in newborns and mothers, the report said. Parents also must be educated about the importance of breast-feeding from the very start, the group recommended, and not introduce other liquids that contain dirty water and can cause diarrhea, often deadly to a weakened newborn.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Million dollar Chicken

With Zimbabwe’s official inflation now at 913 per cent, (international accountants say it is closer to 1500 percent,) it’s a pain going shopping. A decent sized whole chicken cost nearly a million Zimdollars this week....

Interest rates are officially about 783 per cent. Last week it was 750 percent. A medium sized engineering company had an overdraft of Z$10 billion in December. Now it owes the bank Z$65 billion. It can’t pay. In theory its trading figures should have kept its overdraft manageable as the value of the Zimbabwe dollar shrinks daily....

The army runs the other part) acknowledges without blushing that it prints trillions and trillions of Zimbabwe dollars, to keep the economy going.

Tuesday after Easter is Zimbabwe’s independence day, 26 years since the Union Jack was lowered in front of Prince Charles, and 26 years of rule by President Robert Mugabe.

When he came to power the Zimbabwe dollar was equivalent to US $1.60. This week the black market rate of the Zimbabwe dollar - which is the real rate - is Z$220 000 for US$1 on the street outside top hotel, Meikles, in central Harare. The official rate is Z$99 000 to US$1.

Every aspect of life in Zimbabwe is in a state of collapse. Education, health care, trade, commerce, and of course human rights. The most immediately visible decay is the roads. Advertisements on billboards around Harare now invite people to buy tarmac to “mend your own potholes.”

Zimbabwe’s main roads to South Africa and north to Zambia were probably the best roads in Africa 26 years ago. Potholes are the minor problem on serious roads south and north as the foundations are shifting. ....

(thanks for headsup to ShrinketteBlog)

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Top banks face crisis in Zim

....While the looming crisis threatens the entire banking sector, sources indicated that it was the top five commercial banks -- Standard Chartered, Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe, Barclays Bank, Stanbic Bank and Zimbabwe Banking Corporation -- which were haemorrhaging from a raft of RBZ policies that could precipitate bank failures.

The five banks control close to 90% of all deposits in the financial services sector.

The situation has been compounded by the high statutory reserve requirements for commercial banks which have shifted huge amounts of deposits from the banking system, transferring them to the Reserve Bank. Commercial banks are understood to be holding large TBs in their portfolios, most of which have yields of around 200%.

However, the banks are financing their positions at rates in excess of 850% through the overnight accommodation facility of the central bank, creating big gaps between their financing costs and the cost of their TB assets. The TBs are difficult to redeem for cash until maturity, and this has forced banks to seek recourse to the central bank through the overnight accommodation window to fund short positions.

Under the current regime, banks that have surplus cash are forced to invest in two-year tenor bills with interest rates of 120% if they fail to buy TBs from daily auctions. This policy has been largely viewed as punishing banks that efficiently manage their liquidity positions.

The Bankers Association of Zimbabwe (BAZ) has written to Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono expressing fears of a major banking crisis unless urgent action is taken. One of the BAZ memos to Gono noted that while smaller banks had been borrowing smaller amounts, these were nevertheless higher than before February.....

Zim to EU: Let's normalize relations


Some in the country remain sceptical, though, of Mugabe’s reconciliation statements. In apparent reference to the Head of the European Commission delegation in Harare, Xavier Marchal, Bimha said: "Your Excellency, Zimbabwe is always ready to engage the European Union as long as such dialogue is carried out with the mutual understanding and appreciation of each others views. Zimbabwe has set no preconditions, no benchmarks."

Continues Bimha: "We only wish to be engaged in a manner that respects the sovereignty of the people of Zimbabwe. If we approach our engagement in this particular context, I am sure that we will make progress."Mugabe has for a long time been refusing food aid for Zimbabweans saying the country could feed its own people but Bimha acknowledges and salutes the EU for social and humanitarian support given to the people of Zimbabwe.

This year an estimated four million people will require food aid to survive. "Zimbabwe and the EU share a very long relationship. That relationship was strong when Zimbabweans were under the yoke of colonial domination and remained equally strong after the attainment of independence. The EU was active in many programmes which helped the new and independent state of Zimbabwe establish itself as an important actor in the region, on the continent and beyond. We will always remain grateful for that assistance.”......

Inflation now over 1000 percent

Zimbabwe's annual inflation rose above 1,000 per cent in April, dramatizing the severity of an economic crisis which analysts say could trigger protests against President Robert Mugabe's government. Zimbabwe, in its eighth year of recession, has the fastest-shrinking economy of a country outside a war zone, according to the World Bank, and the highest inflation rate in the world.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

People with HIV flounder as economy weakens

Newspapers headlines in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, announced last week that anti-AIDS drugs were in perilously short supply, endangering the lives of HIV-positive people.

The government has attributed the crumbling of its healthcare system - which threatens its free antiretroviral (ARV) programme - to sanctions imposed by western nations.

Whether part of a western conspiracy or not, the reality is that last month, Evellyn Chamisa, 36, had to share her month's supply of ARVs, which help prolong her life, with two of her friends.

The government's response to the AIDS crisis was to declare a state of emergency in 2002, allowing cheaper generic drugs to be imported as well as locally made under World Trade Organisation rules. But local generic drug manufacturers are hamstrung by the scarcity of foreign currency, which they need to import raw materials to make the ARVs.

Last year's Operation Murambatsvina ('Clean Out Garbage'), officially aimed at rooting out the blackmarket and criminals, encompassed unapproved housing owned or rented by the poor, and made life even more difficult. A year after the campaign, AIDS NGOs are still trying to locate displaced HIV-positive people, and fear that many have had to discontinue their drug treatment.

"We still haven't traced some clients ... they've vanished as far as we're concerned. Others disappeared for weeks and were homeless and incomeless, which means they were not eating, and that's a problem when taking [ARVs]," Lynde Francis, who runs The Centre, an HIV/AIDS NGO with 4,500 registered clients, told IRIN.

Beaten student leader fights for life

Harare (AND)The Zimbabwe National Students Union [ZINASU] Secretary General Beloved Chiweshe is battling for his life after he was brutally assaulted by Bindura police and suspected members of the secret service.

This happened last night when he was arrested alongside 17 other students who demonstrating against new fees at universities which are beyond the reach of the poor. There are reports that police have placed him in solitary confinement, raising fears that he could be tortured.

ZINASU president, Promise Mkwananzi and a team of human rights lawyers led by Aleck Muchadehama who visited him, said he had severe bruises and a swollen face. “We could recognize him at first,” said a member of the team that visited him in the police cells. Currently 18 students are still in detention and police are yet to level any charges against them.....

Increasing malnutrition in Zim

As food prices continue to escalate in Zimbabwe, the number of children suffering from severe malnutrition has increased in suburbs around the capital, Harare, according to aid workers. But they do not rule out that the spike could be linked to HIV/AIDS, in a country with one of the worst prevalence rates in the world.

New Hope Zimbabwe (NHZ), a local NGO providing community assistance, said it recorded 500 cases of severe malnutrition every week in Epworth, one of the capital's poorest suburbs.

"Epworth has the worst cases in Zimbabwe, as most of the poor live in that area. It was also the worst hit by Operation Murambatsvina ['Drive out Filth']. Most of the people's livelihoods were destroyed - people are now out of work and their small businesses are now deemed illegal, and most parents are dying from HIV/AIDS," said Pastor Elfas Zadzagomo, NHZ executive director.

The Zimbabwean government said the operation was aimed at clearing slums and flushing out criminals, but left more than 700,000 people homeless or without a livelihood in the winter of 2005.

National malnutrition statistics are hard to access in Zimbabwe. But according to the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), there is a strong association between severe malnutrition and HIV/AIDS; around 70 percent of children admitted to hospital for severe malnutrition in Zimbabwe are also HIV positive.

Life is tough for an HIV-positive baby in Zimbabwe's poor suburbs, and often short: parents do not have enough food; hospitals do not have a reliable supply of antiretroviral (ARV) drugs. With inflation at 913 percent, people are being squeezed by steeply rising prices for everyday essentials and shortages of medication, including the ARVs that help keep AIDS at bay....

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

48 arrested over Mugabe portrait vandalism

FORTY-EIGHT student leaders from universities and tertiary institutions around the country were arrested and detained after they allegedly vandalised President Robert Mugabe's portrait, The Standard has learnt.

Other students were also arrested for allegedly calling Mugabe's official portrait a "poster".

The arrests came in the wake of the Zimbabwe National Students Union's congress held in Harare last week, Harare lawyer, Alec Mu-chadehama, yesterday said the 48 students were arrested on Friday and all but 10 were still detained at Rhodesville Police Station by last night.....

Mkwananzi said: "Congress delegates resolved to remove Mugabe's portrait because they were convinced that he had lost the 2002 Presidential election and holding the meeting in the presence of his portrait would have been a form of legitimising his loss."

He said after some of the students brought down Mugabe's portrait, "some colleagues went the extra mile in their discontent and removed Mugabe's portrait from the frame."

Zim: concern about torture

THE Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum has expressed concern over the rising cases of human rights abuses committed by State security agents.

The organisation noted a sharp increase in reported cases of torture involving police officers and soldiers in its political violence report for March 2006.

About 75 cases were reported in March, prompting the forum to urge the law enforcement agents to respect the rights of people as enshrined in the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Among the victims, the NGO said, were MDC supporters implicated in the arms cache discovery over a month ago and a woman who was severely assaulted by a Presidential Guard soldier along Borrowdale Road in the presence of her children and child minder for no apparent reason.

A grandfatherly Killer

I post this and previous article on the Congo to show that while Mugabe is evil, that there are worse places to live in than Zimbabwe.

But the most notorious ex-commander is my lunch guest, 61-year-old Brig. Kenneth Banya, who lives in an army flat around the corner."The nasty one," people call him. Three years ago, Ugandan soldiers captured him with an AK-47 in his hands as he led 135 fighters on a mission through northern Gulu District.

For the 17 years before that, almost from the beginning of the war, he served as top adviser and military mastermind to LRA leader Joseph Kony, a self-declared prophet and known psychopath. B

Banya's excuse, offered in soft grandfatherly tones at one of the lawn tables, is that his role was forced on him. "The LRA came for me in October 1987," he says. "They told me if I didn't come, they would collect me with all my family and shoot us. I chose to save their lives and go."It seems the lamest of excuses but Banya is not entirely without charm. Toward the end of the interview, closely monitored by a national army colonel, he gets up and takes my hand in warm Ugandan fashion.

"My favourite teacher in primary school, Mr. Scott, was from Toronto," he says, beginning to walk with me hand-in-hand across the lawn. "Also Mrs. Miller," he says. "She almost took me home with her. I could be living in Toronto now."

Banya, Kolo and Kamdulu are only three of the ex-LRA commanders circulating freely in northern Uganda, still addressed by their LRA titles. There are dozens more: mutilators, torturers, rapists, pedophiles, criminals of the lowest possible order.Other countries hold trials, or truth and reconciliation commissions.

Uganda offers blanket impunity for any atrocity — no questions asked — to any LRA member of any rank who surrenders or is captured in battle.Making sense of the absurdity begins with one extraordinary fact: The Lord's Resistance Army consists primarily of abducted children. Most estimates put the proportion at 80 per cent.

The movement might have been born 20 years ago out of legitimate grievances against federal rule from Kampala. But as far as anybody can tell, Joseph Kony's only goal now is to wipe out the adult population of his own people, the Acholi, and replace it with a generation of abducted Acholi children he has trained to kill.He is no longer waging a rebellion; he is leading a murder cult.So far, his effort has directly killed an estimated 32,000 people. It has also displaced 95 per cent of the Acholi population from farmlands into camps where they are dying from disease, the World Health Organization says, at a rate of 1,000 people a week.Kony has abducted an estimated 20,000 children, many of whom have since escaped or been killed, often capriciously by their own LRA commanders.The abductions have led to a phenomenon unique to northern Uganda: the "child night commuter."
To avoid LRA abduction and other violence, thousands of children as young as 6 walk up to two or three hours every evening to sleep at night shelters in the district capitals of Gulu, Kitgum and Pader.Child abductions, indiscriminate killings, mass evacuations — for years the Acholi people suffered without help from the outside world.They also pondered a desperate peace attempt.

Having the army try to rout the LRA and possibly kill their own children seemed out of the question. Instead, they called for a blanket amnesty."People wanted any shortcut," Amnesty Commission chairman Justice Peter Onega told a recent forum in Gulu, the north's main town. "If (a commander) is sure he is going to be forgiven, he will come out," he said of the theory that led to the commission's establishment in 2000. "

Unfortunately this expectation has not been achieved. The war is still going on."Last October, an outside perspective presented itself.The International Criminal Court at The Hague issued arrest warrants for the LRA's five top commanders on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.Banya's name appeared on an initial list before his capture, the Ugandan Daily Monitor reported. The final list includes Kony and four others, disqualifying them for amnesty and introducing an element of accountability for LRA actions.

At the same time, the Acholi people are realizing that reconciliation between victim and perpetrator must somehow be addressed."We have to talk about reconciliation," says Betty Bigombe, a former World Bank consultant in Washington, D.C., who has returned home to Gulu as an independent peacemaker sponsored mostly by Norway."A woman came to me one day and said, `I know I am the mother of killers but I want to know where my sons are,'" Bigombe recounts over breakfast at the Acholi Inn.One son was abducted as an LRA child soldier in 1994, the other in 2003.

"I was able to find out that both are dead and that the (LRA) commander who ordered one of them killed lives at the Acholi," Bigombe says. "We need some kind of reconciliation process where people could sit with some of these commanders and get some kind of closure."Reintegration is also becoming a priority.Returned abducted children live as outcasts among their own people for having been forced to kill fellow villagers and often members of their own families. Somehow, Bigombe and others are saying, a way must be found to reintegrate them into Acholi society.

So far, the government's key initiative in that direction has failed spectacularly, says a detailed report compiled by UNICEF, the United Nations children's fund.

Two years ago, government planners conceived of a model agricultural community for returned child abductees. They called it Labora Farm and financed it through the Northern Uganda Social Action Fund, in turn 100 per cent funded by the World Bank.

The idea was to give ex-child soldiers a new start by offering them productive labour on 250 hectares of government land.But to run the farm the government appointed Brig. Kenneth Banya. He hired other ex-LRA officers, including his former deputy Okwonga Alero and Kony's former religious adviser, Raymond "the Bishop" Apere."

The perpetrator was put in charge of the victim," says the UNICEF report, as yet unreleased.To work the farm, the report says, Banya recruited 120 women and girls once abducted as children to serve as sex slaves to LRA commanders. They were not paid. Instead, they worked "in slavery conditions," the report says, on the promise of food from the harvest. The only harvest so far was sold on the black market, the report says.

All proceeds went to the directors.

Monday, May 08, 2006

the most savage war in the world

.......In reality it a battle for coltan and diamonds and cassiterite and gold, destined for sale in London and New York and Paris. It is a battle for the metals that make our technological society vibrate and ring and bling, and it has already claimed four million lives in five years and broken a population the size of Britain’s. No, this is not only a story about them. This – the tale of a short journey into the long Congolese war we in the West have fostered, fuelled and funded – is a story about you.......

China donates toward Military housing

China has donated construction equipment worth 1.5 million U.S. dollars to the Zimbabwe Defense Forces, a local newspaper reported on Friday.

The equipment will enhance the capacity of Zimbabwe Defense Forces' housing construction project set to be launched later this year, the state-run newspaper The Herald quoted Zimbabwean Secretary for Defense Trust Maposa as saying.
He said during the official handover of construction equipment on Thursday that the Zimbabwean government is committed to the welfare of the defense forces and will soon embark on a massive housing construction project to alleviate accommodation problems the force is facing.

Zimbabwe: Leaders vow to spearhead Sadc transformation

....President wa Mutharika said Sadc should function like a real community with member states helping each other. "This visit not only fulfils the bilateral relations between our two countries but also the spirit of Sadc because Sadc is a community and people should live together. (When) we live together, we mourn together, we work together, we suffer together and rejoice together."We (Sadc members) meet, but individually we tend to work in isolation. We cannot call ourselves a community and live independently and still leave our member to international isolation," said the Malawian leader, in reference to Zimbabwe’s isolation by the West.He said the European Union — whose members stand by each other — began as a community....

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Malawi calls Mugabe a "hero"

The Malawian Government has outraged human rights groups by naming a road after Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and declaring him to be a true African hero.

President Mugabe cut the ribbon on the road from Malawi to Mozambique, which has been called the Robert Mugabe Highway.

The road was funded with money from the European Union, which has imposed sanctions on Mr Mugabe due to allegations of electoral fraud and violence.

But the Malawian Government says the Zimbabwean president is a true son of Africa and a democrat who has liberated his people.

Human rights groups are furious Mr Mugabe is being honoured....

Friday, May 05, 2006

Zim about to run out of HIV drugs

Zimbabwe is running out of anti-retroviral drugs to treat about 20,000 people suffering from HIV/AIDS and there is no foreign currency left to import additional supplies. Zimbabwe's economic crisis is deepening and the health sector is among those hardest hit by the meltdown.

National Pharmaceutical Company head Charles Mwaramba has told a parliamentary committee that the government-owned company does not have money to import anti-retroviral drugs to treat people infected with the HIV virus. He said this would affect 20,000 people in the government program.

An additional 6,000-8,000 people buy anti-retroviral drugs privately, but even they are struggling to find them, according to several pharmacies in Harare.

This dire situation contrasts with the government's target of supplying free anti-retroviral drugs to 100,000 people by the end of last year.

Government statistics show that out of 1.6 million Zimbabweans infected with the HIV virus, about 380,000 would fully qualify for anti-retroviral drugs. ...

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Miss Biggy Zimbabwe

The link is to a slideshow

The inaugural Miss Biggy Matofotofo beauty pageant for Zimbabwean women with a full figure has been held in Harare. Matofotofo means big and fluffy in the Ndebele language. The contest was for women who wear size 40 and above, with no restrictions on age, height and marital status.

Fifteen models took part in the final, after a series of qualifying contests held across the country.

"As big women we should conquer our fears. Zimbabwean men used to think that slim is beautiful, but the truth is that when it comes to the nitty-gritty, they prefer their woman to be bigger!" says Zodwa Munjanja, 36.

The promoter of the pageant is Lwazi Mbowa. She felt that there was no place for swimwear in a contest that challenges perceptions of beauty.

"This is about the true beauty of Africa," she says. "Big women are for chiefs and kings, and we can’t expose chiefs' items in public, so swimwear is completely out."

The contestants modelled in casual clothing, formal wear and traditional African attire. They also answered questions relating to beauty and culture.

go to link for full story...which is quite nice.

Zim pulls out of UN Human RIghts group

THE Zimbabwean government is set to pull out from the United Nations Human Rights Council to avert a potentially embarrassing defeat ahead of voting for the 47-member organ next Tuesday, sources said Tuesday.

Zimbabwe was a member of UN Human Rights Commission which included countries currently facing international censure for human rights abuses. Other members of the Commission included Libya, Sudan, and Cuba.

The southern African country has so far not offered itself as a candidate for the newly created Human Rights Council.

Two other members on the old panel -- Cuba and Cameroon -- have put forward their names for next Tuesday’s election....

Zim MIning output slumps

HARARE, May 2 (Xinhua) -- Production of major minerals such as gold and diamonds at Zimbabwe mining giant, RioZim, declined in the first quarter of 2006 compared to the same period last year, statistics provided by the miner have revealed.

Gold production declined slightly from 5,956 ounces last year to 5,787 ounces while diamond production plunged from 65,869 carats to 48,472 carats. Nickel production fell from 1,604 tons to 1,527 tons while coal production was at 41,102 tons.

Full year production was 25,120 tons as the miner only embarkedon production of the black gold in the last quarter of the year.

Total gold production last year stood at 24,204 ounces while diamond and nickel production was 251,152 carats and 6,518 tons respectively.

While the miner gave no specific reasons for the decline in production, capacity utilization in all sectors of the economy has generally declined as a result of difficulties in accessing foreign currency to import critical inputs.

Mining concerns especially have had to contend with breakdown of machinery as well as failure to replace old equipment because of foreign currency shortages.

Escalating input costs and increases in labor charges as workers try to cushion themselves from the highly inflationary environment have also impacted on performance.```

Churches to house Zim refugees

Methodist Church bishop for Johannesburg, Paul Verryn, told ZimOnline on Monday that the church will soon post some of the refugees to countries such as Botswana and Mozambique after churches there accepted to host the displaced Zimbabweans.

“Churches in countries such as Botswana and Mozambique have since accepted providing accommodation to hundreds of Zimbabwean refugees presently living in South Africa.

“We are working with our fellow Methodist churches from around the SADC region to make sure that the innocent souls are taken care of. We have sourced blankets for the refugees including food, pots and medication,” said Bishop Verryn.

The Methodist Church in Johannesburg has in the past provided temporary shelter to thousands of Zimbabwean refugees staying in the country. But the church last month told the Zimbabweans to leave the church building in the city after violent clashes over food and some donated blankets.

At least three million Zimbabweans, a quarter of the country’s 12 million population, are living outside the country the majority of them in South Africa, after fleeing hunger and political persecution in the country.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Security forces usurping Bank functions

Military and security officials led by army commander General Constantine Chiwenga have taken hold of a number of functions of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe bearing on monetary policy, such as the determination of a viable foreign exchange policy and managing the national money supply, marginalizing RBZ Governor Gideon Gono.

Economic policy has in recent months come into the hands of the Zimbabwe National Security Council, assigned overriding powers by President Robert Mugabe under the recently launched National Economic Development Priority Program which proposed to reverse economic decline so as to achieve positive 1-2% growth this year.

The National Security Council is dominated by officers from the army, the air force, the police, and the feared Central Intelligence Organization. It has set up nine task forces to manage all economic sectors and oversee foreign exchange and monetary policy.

Gono sits on the foreign exchange and other task forces, but his influence is said to be limited under the new dispensation of a military-led command economy.

Central bank sources say General Chiwenga ordered Gono to disband among other advisory bodies his foreign exchange policy advisory board of economists, business executives and labor leaders. The sources aslo said Chiwenga ordered the central bank to print Z$60 trillion to fund pay increases to soldiers and civil servants.

Central bank sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, also expressed concern at the domination of economic policy meetings by state security agents, saying they feel intimidated and that their role in decisions has been significantly diminished...

Link has audio interviews

Traditional leaders are the real sellouts.

THE guilty, it is said, are always afraid. The government this month proved it had something to hide when it blocked a United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation team from conducting a joint crop assessment exercise throughout the country.

While the government raised the argument that it was a sovereign State and would therefore not countenance multi-lateral organisations undertaking crop assessment surveys, what really frightened the government was confirmation of the extent of the food shortages despite a good rainfall season and the government's claims of a bumper harvest.

The truth is that the failure of its much heralded land reform programme would have been unmasked. Whenever the government finds itself in a corner it throws tantrums in the hope that such theatrics will shut up its critics. But that will not stop the food deficits and that is why it is spending scarce foreign currency on food imports.

What the response to the FAO proposal confirms is that Zimbabwe is being run by a desperate cabal - a clique intent on clinging to power by any means necessary.

What we don't need amidst this are traditional leaders trying to mislead the nation.

In an apparent response intended to buttress the government's rebuff of the UN agency, the Zimbabwe Council of Chiefs declared that "most parts of the country produced better yields than in previous seasons owing to good rainsâ-oe"

The statement was as vague as it was shallow on statistical breakdown of district/provincial yields to shore up the claim of "good harvests".

Traditional leaders were reviled by the generality of the people before independence because of their willingness to be used against their own subjects by settler administrations.

Their action last week proved once again that they had mortgaged their fate to that of the government because of the perks they are being feted with at the expense of roads and health facilities stocked with drugs for use by rural people.....

Seven arrested in Mayday Rallies

Harare- At least seven people were arrested Monday as they marked Workers' Day in the town of Chitungwiza, a spokesman for the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) claimed.

'There were seven of them ... They're being held at Makoni Police Station (in Chitungwiza). The police allege they made derogatory statements about the president,' said ZCTU spokesman Mlamleli Sibanda in an interview. The ZCTU is Zimbabwe's main trade union body.

Sibanda said those arrested included two members of the ZCTU General Council namely Vukile Kupe and Lawrence Mangezi. It was not possible to get independent confirmation of the arrests.

The ZCTU held rallies in 20 towns and cities throughout the country on Monday. Other rallies were due to be held by a rival body, the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU), which is closely aligned to President Robert Mugabe's government.

Workers are pushing for higher salaries and the stabilisation of prices amid an economic crisis marked by inflation of nearly 1,000 per cent, high unemployment and growing levels of poverty.

The government is on edge following threats of street demonstrations. In a speech to mark Independence Day last month Mugabe warned that the law would 'descend mercilessly' on anyone who dared to 'go against the security and stability of our country'....

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