Friday, June 30, 2006

Botswana reporters being tried in Zim

They came to Zim to report on Footand Mouth disease outbreak, but are being charged with immigration irregularities...

"....When they appeared in court, Seofela (25) and Mokoba (29) were not formally charged with contravening the Immigration Act and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act. They are out of custody on $4 million (P231) bail each. It is alleged that on 30 April this year, the two scribes entered Zimbabwe illegally as they did not have passports. They allegedly approached veterinary officers at Mphoengs border post carrying cameras seeking information about a Foot and Mouth disease outbreak. A police officer who was patrolling the area got wind of their presence and approached them for questioni ng.

"The officer then discovered that the journalists were allegedly not accredited by the state-appointed Media and Information Commission and that they illegally entered the country. Seofela and Mokoba were then arrested and their equipment confiscated. A journalist covering a story in Zimbabwe needs to be registered with the Media and Information Commission and be granted a licence..."

Zim educational system declining

Standards of learning and teaching in Zimbabwe, at one time the envy of the African continent, have been plummeting, says a report by a cross-party parliamentary committee.

The Portfolio Committee on Education painted a grim picture after visiting institutions of higher learning, and in some cases finding female students resorting to sex work or cohabiting with men to pay for their fees at universities and colleges.

Tuition and examination fees, as well as accommodation costs, have rocketed and students have to fork out as much as Zim$200 million (US$2,000) per semester, while their grants have remained stagnant at Zim$13 million (US$130) per term. An average worker earns about US$150 a month.

"Education is now a preserve for the rich, some students have dropped out of programmes, others will not be able to write examinations, which they cannot afford, while others have had to defer their studies," the committee noted.

Promise Mkhwananzi, president of the Zimbabwe National Students' Union (Zinasu), which represents students at 38 higher learning institutions, told IRIN that some male students had also turned to crime to pay for their tuition and other expenses. ...

I also suspect that many of the more skilled teachers have emigrated to countries where pay was better...

the Asbestos story

THE Asbestos Story, a 30-minute documentary, sets the tone for debate on whether the proposed ban on white asbestos is a question of health or economics....

The documentary starts in Zimbabwe's mining town of Zvishavane, and then Harare before going to Johannesburg and Switzerland.

There are three types of asbestos - blue (amosite), brown (crocidolite), and white (chrysotile). The blue and brown asbestos were the more superior type widely used in Europe and extensively mined in South Africa.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) banned them after it was revealed that they caused cancer.

White asbestos is the only type that remains on the market today and is mined in Russia, Brazil, China and Zimbabwe.

It is widely used in the manufacture of brake pads, water pipes and irrigation systems and currently makes up 90 percent of roofing in the region....

Mugabe: Zim doesn't need rescuing

HARARE, Zimbabwe (Reuters) -- President Robert Mugabe on Thursday rejected international mediation in Zimbabwe's political crisis, saying the southern African state was not on the verge of collapse although its economy was in trouble.

Critics accuse Mugabe of running down one of Africa's most promising countries, abusing human rights and hanging onto power by rigging votes in the face of a deepening economic crisis.

Speaking at the funeral of one of his ministers, Mugabe -- under pressure from domestic and Western critics to accept U.N. mediation in a crisis largely blamed on his government -- said Zimbabweans were ready to die fighting for their political rights and would never accept subjugation....

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Mugabe criticizes church criticism

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has condemned some churches as "agents of violence and purveyors of falsehood".

Mr Mugabe made his remarks after church leaders called for a boycott of a national day of prayer on Sunday, which the president was planning to attend.

He also warned the opposition Movement for Democratic Change that it was dicing with death if it went ahead with a planned wave of street protests.....

The Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, is among church leaders who have called for a boycott of a national day of prayer planned for Sunday, after it emerged that Mr Mugabe is planning to take part.

Mr Mugabe's latest warning is similar to remarks he made in April, as the country marked its independence anniversary.

His threats have come at a time when the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic change, has been weakened by an internal split.....

Friday, June 23, 2006

Human rights NGO's are "western tools"

Zimbabwean Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa went on the offensive in Geneva this week, charging in a United Nations forum that nongovernmental organizations in his country are fronts for foreign powers aiming to destabilize the country.

Chinamasa delivered his scathing attack on NGOs on Wednesday at the inaugural session of the U.N. Human Rights Council, the successor to the UN Commission on Human Rights. Though Zimbabwe sat on that predecessor panel, Chinimasa said it was a tool of developed Western nations seeking regime change in Zimbabwe.

Chinimasa said such countries use the human rights NGO community to channel what he called “dirty money” intended to undermine Third World governments that take an "independent line in international affairs.” The minister called upon the Human Rights Council to prohibit direct funding of local NGO’s operating in the field of human rights and governance, and that all such funding should flow through UN channels.

Zimbabwe's Business news

How do people cope when inflation is 1000%?
They become Entrepeneurs....

Cotton crop expected to be good.

Coffee crop, however, expected to be poor due to drought.

How can government control prices when they print worthless money and inflation is sky high?
Arrest the bakers and others who raise prices.

And fuel subsidies for doctors will be cut...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Zim signs Energy deal with China

China has signed a $1.3bn deal with Zimbabwe to help relieve an acute shortage of energy.

The Herald newspaper says Chinese companies will build new coal mines and three thermal power stations in the Zambezi valley on the Zambian border.

In exchange, Zimbabwe will provide China with chrome. Zimbabwe's Vice President, Joyce Mujuru, attended the signing ceremony in Beijing.

Zimbabwean industry suffers from hours of power cuts every day.....

President Robert Mugabe, who has been shunned by Western countries in recent years, embarked last year on a policy of strengthening ties with China.

Chinese companies are also to rebuild Zimbabwe's rail network and provide trains and buses

China in Angola

......The (Capital) city is choked with traffic and there are enormous public health problems, including a recent outbreak of cholera which left 1,200 dead.

This highlights the need for enormous investment, which is where China comes in.

Luanda city centre
Angola hopes China can help with its decaying infrastructure

The Angolan government welcomes the new visitors.

"Most important for us is the country's reconstruction," said minister Luís da Mota Liz.

And referring to efforts on transparency he went on, "just this month the Angolan government approved the international convention against corruption".

However, others say that the combination of corruption and Chinese cash is damaging, and that this source of new funds gives Angola the opportunity to ignore the IMF's recommendations on transparency and accountability.

The Angolan example is far from unique across Africa, where trade with China has exploded in the last few years.

And in the rush for resources, China has no qualms about dealing with countries that the west has criticised or shunned, such as Zimbabwe and Sudan.

China says it has a strict policy of non-interference in other nations' affairs.

It won't tell the countries it deals with what to do and vigorously defends its policy in Africa.

"Sudan is a sovereign country and I'm sorry that we do not develop relations according to US or UK or any other country's instruction," said Zhou Yuxiao, chargé d'affaires at the Chinese embassy in South Africa.

"Developing normal relations with a country does not mean that we approve every policy of that nation."

Monday, June 19, 2006

DDT reintroduction slashes malaria rates in S Africa

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - South Africa's use of controversial pesticide DDT has helped it achieve a huge reduction in malaria cases over the past five years, the health minister said on Thursday.
DDT is effective in killing malaria-spreading mosquitoes but is blamed for deaths, cancer and birth defects and is outlawed by the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, except when used for disease control.
South Africa stopped using the insecticide in 1996 due to international pressure but re-introduced it four years later after other insecticides were found to be less effective due to drug resistance.
"This change in insecticide was one of the main contributing factors to the decline in malaria cases in the past five years in South Africa," Health Minister Mantombazana Tshabalala-Msimang said in written reply to a parliamentary question.
"South Africa has reduced malaria morbidity and mortality by approximately 88 percent and 86 percent, respectively, compared to the year 2000," she said.
Official data shows the country had 7,754 reported cases of malaria and 64 deaths from the disease in 2005 compared to 64,622 cases and 438 deaths in 2000.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Is a storm coming?

...The International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think-tank run by retired statesmen, last week issued a report on Zimbabwe warning of possible political instability and violence in the country.

It said Zimbabwe was almost irretrievably hurtling towards being a failed state plagued by insecurity and chaos. It said the risk of anarchy was high because of the current political turmoil, economic emergency, heightened repression and deepening public anger.

The group noted Mugabe's regime is increasingly becoming "desperate and dangerous" due to its growing paranoia caused by rising opposition to its policies and international isolation.

While chances of Zimbabwe becoming stateless are very slim, there are conditions on the ground which provide a hotbed for political turbulence.

The country is fractured on many fronts. Divisions within Zanu PF and the MDC are now as profound as the differences between them. The two parties are reeling from vicious power struggles.

The Zanu PF situation is more scary because of the scamble to succeed Mugabe. It is not clear what is likely to happen after Mugabe but there are fears Zanu PF will split into at least two factions along regional and ethnic fault lines. If that were to happen, it would create a breeding ground for instability and violence.

Zanu PF appears fragile because of its regional and tribal anatomy. In the past the party showed signs of volatility and strain, especially in a state of political flux where shifts and changes in dynamics were difficult to manage.

Zanu PF camps are already wound up for a fight. The Tsholotsho episode cast the die. The internal wrangling could yield a powerful group which may sort out the situation. The defeated group might fall in line, scatter into a toothless rabble or wreak political havoc unless contained.

In the process, it is possible a new leader would emerge to unite the factions. A realignment of forces might take place and resolve the situation.

It is however also possible the army might intervene claiming to be trying to restore order. The danger of military intervention now looms large given the ongoing militarisation of state institutions....

Operation clean up redux

...HARARE, 16 June (IRIN) - As winter sets in, the Zimbabwean government has launched another operation to purge the capital, Harare, of "illegal" homes and market stalls in an effort to "clean" the city.

The demolitions began at the crack of dawn on Thursday, when truckloads of municipal police raided the high-density suburb of Glen Norah in Harare and brought down "illegal" structures with crowbars and set them alight. More than 400 people were affected, including school children....
Authorities said the people being weeded out of urban areas should return to their rural villages of origin, but although many have done so, the descendants of migrant workers from Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia have been left in a quandary.

The mayor of Harare, Sekesai Makwavarara, informed residents of the new operation, saying: "as residents you should support the council and government when they embark on the clean-up exercise".

Two weeks ago the government launched what it called 'Operation Round-up', in which street children and homeless people were picked up and dumped at a farm outside Harare.

Precious Shumba, a spokesman for the Combined Harare Residents Association, said they were trying to help those who had been affected. "We are trying to get aid for the people, like food and blankets, especially because this unfortunate exercise has again been launched in the middle of winter."

Humanitarian bodies have condemned the latest demolitions. Crisis Coalition, a grouping of NGOs, said, "We have to unite to defend our rights, which are not privileged gifts parcelled out by generous politicians but [are] inalienable because we are human and legitimate citizens of this country. No one, regardless of their political, economic and social standing, should be given the right to dump the lives of the citizens of this country into misery."

Gabriel Chaibva, spokesman for the pro-senate faction of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, also condemned the destruction. "Harare officials have demonstrated their insensitivity to the plight of the poor - the demolitions have been carried out with brutal force and in cold winter season, when it is clear that the victims of the demolitions, especially the elderly and children, are likely to be exposed to the vagaries of cold weather."

Zim: Fantasy economics

....The government launched an economic blue-print, the National Economic Development Priority Programme (NEDPP) two months ago under which it claimed it would raise US$2,5 billion in three months to stabilise the local currency, fight rising inflation, mobilise savings and ensure food security....

Economic Development minister Rugare Gumbo told the state media last week that the government had so far raised a paltry US$350 million in cash under the NEDPP, admitting: "We have not gone very far, unfortunately."

He indicated a shift in focus, from raising cash to securing investment pledges to make up for the US$2,5 billion the government intended to raise....

Friday, June 16, 2006

Mugabe claims foreign interests trying to overthrow him

(SomaliNet) Zimbabwe's ruling body has revealed that there is an international effort to overthrow the current government of Zimbabwe. It warned that he is ready to protect the government of Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe’s president in case anything like that happens.

"Having failed completely and repeatedly to topple the strong government of President Mugabe either by the ballot box at elections that are held regularly, or by acts of sabotaging the national economy, they are now resorting to the last card, a military coup," Zimbabwe’s ruling party leader Shamuyarira said.

Zimbabwe’s accusing finger is pointed at ICG, in Brussels

As I have noted earlier, most Western governments want Mugabe removed, but don't want a civil war or anarchy to replace him.
Alas, given the number of educated fleeing the country and the economic collapse, Mugabe staying on will only increase the threat of chaos when he dies or gets thrown out of office...

Only Mass action will shift Mugabe

Without opposition-led mass action, Mugabe will not shift an inch...
The leader of the mainstream opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Morgan Tsvangirai, last week unveiled what he said was a road map to ending Zimbabwe's unprecedented political and economic crises.

The road map includes demands that Mugabe accept a new Constitution and that he step down for a transitional government to take over and organise fresh elections under international supervision. The MDC, in alliance with national civic society, will resort to mass action if the 82-year-old president refuses to accept its demands, according to Tsvangirai.

But University of Zimbabwe political-science lecturer and Mugabe critic John Makumbe says the veteran president will "definitely ignore" the demands by the opposition and its civic allies unless they first demonstrate on the ground through nationwide street protests that they wield enough power to endanger his government....

Zim elites buy Mercedes

“The businesses that I have demand such a car. I am celebrating my own success. Everything that I have, I owe to God,” Mr Chiyangwa explained. Israel Tswarayi, a flower vendor who spends his day dodging police anti-hawker patrols, views Mr Chiyangwa’s purchase differently. “It’s disgusting,” he says. “That money could have been used to buy food for everyone in Harare for a month. But he used it for one car.”

Mr Chiyangwa is one of Zimbabwe’s privileged elite, almost entirely black and mostly connected to President Mugabe’s ruling Zanu (PF) party, that flaunts its wealth through the cars it drives.

Zimbabwe is effectively bankrupt. Its once-proud export industries have been reduced to little more than a care-and-maintenance level. Official hard currency to import essentials such as antiretroviral drugs and water-purifying chemicals for cities is almost impossible to acquire.

But last month the central bank agreed to fund a loan scheme for MPs and senators to import new cars, allocating $350,000 (£190,000) for the first tranche alone.

The number of imported luxury cars in Harare would raise eyebrows in Epsom. The parliament’s car park glitters with scores of government-issued ministerial and privately owned Mercedes saloons and SUVs, BMWs, Toyota Landcruisers, Jeep Cherokees and the most expensive Japanese double-cab 4x4 pick-ups.

The same dazzling array of vehicles assembles outside Harare’s exclusive private schools to collect children at the end of the day, at the capital’s high-priced shopping centres at the weekend and at outings of the Shumbas, a golfing society of black senior executives from the country’s big public companies.

Harare’s luxury car dealers say that business has seldom been so good. “We’ve had this showroom for 12 years, and last year’s business has been the best,” said one, who wished to remain anonymous. “Usually, if I had five C or E-Class Mercs in the showroom, I would sell them in a day.”

About 30 per cent of his trade is with the Government, corporations or non-governmental organisations. “The rest is private — 95 per cent black and most of it is speculative business,” he said.

In a country where inflation exceeds 1,000 per cent, “cars are a currency”, he said. “They are your most certain asset. This is the only country in the world where the value of vehicles appreciate after they get sold.

“When a new vehicle is ordered and paid for overseas, it can change hands four times before a single kilometre is on the clock.”

The most expensive car in the Herald’s classified column last week was a new Mercedes- Benz E500, at Z$38 billion (about £70,000), a snip next to President Mugabe’s five-tonne armoured 7.3-litre S600, which is estimated to have cost three times more than Mr Chi-yangwa’s newer model.

Homeless shelters destroyed

HARARE, June 15 (Reuters) - Harare authorities on Thursday demolished informal shelters and market stalls in a small settlement of about 150 people, leaving victims of last year's government slum crackdown homeless once more, a lawyer said....
On Thursday a human rights lawyer said municipal workers razed informal shacks at a Harare settlement housing people driven out of their homes in last year's crackdown. "These were makeshift shelters which were home to about 150 people. We had made a High Court application for an interdict on behalf of some of the residents but we were rather late," said the lawyer, who asked not to be identified....
Police and council officials were not immediately reachable for comment. Critics say a government rebuilding exercise to replace the destroyed homes has dragged on too slowly, leaving many of the victims facing a second Southern Hemisphere winter with inadequate shelter. Last month Zimbabwe rights groups criticised neighbouring countries for failing to condemn strongly the slum clearances, which they say worsened the lot of urban residents already facing rampant inflation, chronic food and fuel shortages and rising unemployment. Mugabe denies responsibility for Zimbabwe's economic crisis, and in turn blames it on a campaign of sabotage he says his opponents have launched as payback for his controversial drive to forcibly redistribute white-owned farms among blacks.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Countries aid Zim

Kuwait sends blankets and condoms...

A team from India is investigating the earthquake zone...

Canada sends aid for malnutrition and blindness prevention projects

Monday, June 12, 2006

Zim, China strike deal over Chromium

Harare - Zimbabwe and China have signed a deal worth US$1.3bn that will see the development of thermal power stations in the southern African country in return for chrome, state radio reported on Sunday.
The radio station said the memorandum of understanding was signed in Beijing and witnessed by Zimbabwe's vice president, Joyce Mujuru, who is on an official visit to China.

Three thermal power stations will be developed in the Zambezi Valley and Hwange. The radio report said that under the agreement Chinese machinery and expertise would be provided in exchange for chrome.

Zimbabwe is experiencing acute shortages of electrical power. Frequent power cuts are disrupting business and manufacturing in the country, adding to the economic woes of a country already staggering under inflation of 1 193%.

Under the agreement signed with China National Machinery and Equipment Import and Export Corporation, a new thermal power station with an output of 600 megawatts will be built in Zimbabwe's remote northern Dande district.

Zimbabwe already has power stations in Hwange that have fallen into disrepair.

President Robert Mugabe's government has begun a new drive to obtain international credit and investment through bartering some of its extensive mineral wealth.

Recently the country's central bank signed a $50m deal with a French commercial bank to assist the country pay for fuel imports. The deal was backed up by guarantees from the Bindura Nickel Corporation, a major local player.

Like much of the southern African region, Zimbabwe is next year expected to be hit by massive shortfalls of electrical power. Presently Zimbabwe imports 30% of its electrical energy requirements from South Africa and Mozambique, as well as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Geldolf in Africa

.....That madness is sometimes iffy. But there's great stuff going on in art. And there's the Congo river. It's hard to get up to Kisangani at the top but I loved it there. That was where Bogart and Hepburn did The African Queen. Stanleyville as was. Very beautiful. The UN is up there. But if you go out into the bush, you're into madness. It's very troubled, to use the euphemism. You're into Apocalypse Now stuff. You want to watch out if you're venturing out there.
There's Stanley Falls, which are just little rapids really. They'll bring you across in their canoes. When we filmed there [for the BBC], the crews were singing work songs to get across. The coxes in the boats were shouting "louez!", so I started singing "Louie Lou-aye, oh baaay-by, I gotta go...!" and the rowers immediately started joining in: "Louie Lou-aye, oh baaay-by, a-gargle-oh!" So I turned to the camera and said, "We came to the Congo. And found. An incredible story. The roots. Of rock'n'roll!" That bit ended up in the out-takes.
Anyway, they'll take you across the rapids to the villages over the other side, where they use tom-toms still - God knows what'll happen to that when they all get mobiles. And they do that fishing thing where they set these huge scaffolding traps out in the river just below the falls and they swing from them and the kids dive in and so on. Now that's great touristy stuff and it'll all going to go, all of it. You're looking at an entire continent in a state of flux. What'll change it is communications technology, mobiles, IT, that sort of thing, because as I've said, it has no structure. So virtual infrastructure is the key. Africa is the fastest-growing phone market in the world.....

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Does Mugabe Bribe churches?

The church in Zimbabwe risks losing credibility because some clergymen have been bribed to support the authoritarian regime of President Robert Mugabe, a senior church leader said.
Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo, a fierce critic of Mugabe's, said the President was using 'divide and rule tactics' to silence opposition from the churches.
"The Church has let down the people very, very greatly by siding with Mugabe hook, line and sinker," the archbishop said on Monday in an interview with SW Radio Africa.
Some clergy, Archbishop Ncube claimed, were even spying for the government. He said the Mugabe regime also uses bribes to get support from some senior church leaders.
"I can confirm that a lot of money is being given to clerics and farms have been given to senior clerics to get them to the government side in such a way that when we meet as clergy we can no longer be united."
President Mugabe was last Friday a guest at the anniversary celebrations of a Catholic parish in the southern Diocese of Masvingo, where he called on the church to support his government. He donated computers to a Catholic-run high school.
Archbishop Ncube said he did not want to name those who had received bribes, saying it would become "nasty and very personal" but he did mention a bishop and a pastor who were well known for having accepted confiscated farms.
The corruption also extended to the Catholic Church. The archbishop said he had been offered a farm, but he said: "I am a respectable Catholic, so I refused. I knew they wanted to silence me because I am critical of the land reform programme which is not transparent."
Ncube said Mugabe is aware of the power of the churches in Zimbabwe and has divided and bribed some of the leaders to the extent that "we have become unfaithful to our calling; we as churchmen are supposed to stand with the poor, to defend the poor and we have forgotten our mission."


Zim prisons in alarming conditions

Harare, Zimbabwe (AHN) - Food shortages, water and power outages, and sanitation facilities in disrepair in Zimbabwe's prisons are resulting in malnutrition-related illnesses and filthy living conditions, a panel of lawmakers reported Friday.
Prison conditions are deteriorating amid the most serious economic crisis in Zimbabwe since its independence from Britain in 1980, and disease and malnutrition are widespread in the country's overcrowded prison cells, a parliamentary committee said in a report.
Due to insufficient funds to buy food, prisoners are suffering of malnutrition-related ailments such a pellagra, which causes skin lesions, intestinal disorders and mental disorientation.....

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Crisis of leadership in Zim churches

"...I have been following the work of the church in Zimbabwe particularly during the liberation struggle. Its role was to defend the weak and save them from oppression and suppression.

No wonder then people like Robert Mugabe got their education from mission schools. It was because the missionaries were there to save the poor and develop them. Their main aim was to equip the meek so they could face the wicked. The church leaders of that era were there to lead the flock and shepherd it to the land of honey and milk.

But what does it mean for the church when you see a secretary general of a massive organisation such as the Zimbabwe Council of Churches praying for Mugabe and saying they support his efforts and his style of leadership? Is it not spitting in the face of the congregation? Is it not the same as what Judas did to Jesus?...
But that does not necessarily mean that all church leaders are like that. We have the likes of Pius Ncube, Bishop Manhanga, Bishop Kadenge, Pastor Motsi and others whom I cannot mention due to limited space. These church leaders through initiatives like the Zimbabwe National Pastors Conference (ZNPC), Churches in Manicaland etc are making a difference showing their flock the right direction and denouncing evil. They fear no man but God. Any man who wants to put himself above God is not good for the world....

Friday, June 09, 2006

Zim will not back down on mining rules

imbabwe will not back down on proposed changes to its mining laws which will give the state a majority stake in foreign-owned firms, a minister said on Thursday.

"There is no going back on the 51% mining ownership structure policy structure for the government and 49% for outsiders," Junior Mines Minister Tinos Rusere told Agence France-Presse.

"There have been various submissions with some proposing a 30% stake for locals but there is no going back on what we have said."

"Very soon the actual [Mining and Minerals Amendment] Bill will be tabled in Parliament which will clarify everything," he added.

President Robert Mugabe last week sought to reassure mining firms in Zimbabwe over the proposals, saying they would not lead to property grabs.

Platinum mining giant Zimplats has met with Mugabe to try to persuade the government to reduce the proposed 51% stake for the state to 30%.

"Thirty percent being offered is out of the question," Rusere added.

Zimbabwe is in the throes of an economic crisis, with inflation topping 1 000% and severe shortages of fuel and food in the Southern African country.

A key pillar of the economy along with agriculture, the mining sector last year accounted for 44% of Zimbabwe's total foreign currency revenues, according to Reserve Bank figures. The sector employs close to 45 000 workers.
n March, the Chamber of Mines representing 200 mining houses in Zimbabwe, warned the proposed amendments to the mining law would effectively kill off investment needed to keep the mines open.

The country's biggest gold miner RioZim, which has also diversified into diamond mining says it has put on hold a $120-million expansion plan at the Murowa diamond mine until the proposed amendments are clear.

Riozim chief Eric Kahari told shareholders that the company would also scale down production at the mine, freeze expansion plans and start winding down from 2009.

A "Win WIN" proposal for Zim

I'm not sure what this is go read the whole thing..

Illegal toothpaste now a problem in Zim

Price hikes in Zimbabwe leave bad taste in the mouth

ZIMBABWEANS have been warned that using counterfeit toothpaste will leave them with bad breath or worse after the price of a tube sold legally hit a record Z$780,000 (€6).

The private Standards Association said samples of a toothpaste masquerading under an international brand name and contained excessive yeast and bacteria that could cause ear, nose, throat and chest infections.

More than 90 cases of the counterfeit toothpaste were found at a Harare warehouse and more shipments were reportedly on the way from Asia, the association said.////

White millionaire, Mugabe friend, flees Zim

One of Britain's richest men is reported to have fled Zimbabwe in a private jet this week after President Robert Mugabe, his former business ally, launched an investigation into his companies' affairs.

John Bredenkamp, who was a sanctions-buster and gun-runner for the former Rhodesian leader Ian Smith, switched allegiances to become one of Mr Mugabe's most influential business associates...
"The National Economic Conduct Inspectorate raided local companies owned by business tycoon John Bredenkamp to investigate cases linked to economic crimes," the Herald reported. It said the businessman was "being probed on allegations of flouting exchange control regulations, tax evasion and contravening the citizenship act"...
Mr Bredenkamp's meddling in party feuds within Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF is seen as the real reason for the investigations. He was associated with Emmerson Mnangagwa, once Mr Mugabe's heir apparent who is now out of favour for having been too eager to see Mr Mugabe retire....
Mr Bredenkamp's swift exit from the Zanu-PF inner circle leaves the British property magnate, Nicholas van Hoogstraten, as Mr Mugabe's most prominent friend in international business. Mr van Hoogstraten, who has a vast ranch in central Zimbabwe which has not been seized by the president's supporters, has spoken frequently of his friendship with Mr Mugabe, and said recently that he had lent him $10m, although Mr Mugabe's spokesman later denied it.

Monday, June 05, 2006

US "Plotting to oust Mugabe"

so states Zim state controlled press quoting someone in Mugabe's government...

Harare - The United States is seeking to block global aid to economically-ravaged Zimbabwe to force President Robert Mugabe to step down, a state daily said on Sunday.

Brangelina takes over Namibia

DURING May, a Western security force effectively took over the small African nation of Namibia. A beach resort in Langstrand in Western Namibia was sealed off with security cordons, and armed security personnel kept both local residents and visiting foreigners at bay. A no-fly zone was enforced over part of the country. The Westerners also demanded that the Namibian Government severely restrict the movement of journalists into and out of Namibia. The Government agreed and, in a move described by one human rights organisation as heavy-handed and brutal, banned certain reporters from crossing its borders.
However, this Western security force was not a US or European army plundering Namibia's natural resources or threatening to topple its government. It was the security entourage of one Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, the celebrity couple better known for living it up in Los Angeles than slumming it in Namibia. They reportedly wanted their first child to be born in Namibia because the country is "the cradle of human kind" and it would be "a special experience". And it seems that no security measure is too stringent in the name of making Ms Jolie feel special. Welcome to the new celebrity colonialism.
That is a quite extraordinary position for two actors to be in: to not only have the ear of Namibian officials but also their support in deciding who can and cannot enter the country. It is as if two absolute monarchs had arrived for a state visit to Namibia, rather than a couple of actors who haven't even made a good film between them for at least five years. ...

It may sound shocking, but in truth Pitt and Jolie's trip to Namibia is really only a more extreme version of today's celebrity colonialism, where celebs go to Africa (or some other poor part of the world) to make themselves feel special. Africa in particular has become a stage for such moralistic poseurs, and their posing can have a detrimental impact on the people who live there. How many Western celebs or wildlife-watchers have visited Africa to raise awareness about the problem of elephants, rhinos or gorillas being hunted by uncaring locals? /....

Rather, this brand of moral grandstanding suggests that Africa has become a kind of plaything for some campaigners, a backdrop against which they can make themselves feel good and special. They are searching for personal meaning and purpose in the deserts and grasslands of Africa, not kickstarting a meaningful debate about how to take Africa forward. Africans might be better off telling Brangelina and the rest to get lost, instead of indulging their wacky whims.
Brendan O'Neill is deputy editor of spiked in London,

Sunday, June 04, 2006

US$150 000 a week

The government will in the next few weeks doll out more than Z$500 billion for the purchase of luxurious 4x4 twin cab vehicles for Members of Parliament and Senators at a time when most Zimbabweans are wallowing in abject poverty.

Over 80% of Zimbabweans are poor and cannot afford even one single proper meal every day.

Despite this glaring poverty, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has already released about US$350 000 (about Z$36,4 billion) for the purchase of top-of-the range Isuzu, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Toyota vehicles for the legislators. A total of 191 MPs and Senators are eligible under the Member of Parliament Vehicle Revolving Fund (MPVRF).

Impeccable sources said the central bank has pledged to release about US$150 000 (about Z$15, 6 billion) every week for the purchase of the vehicles.

Report on Africa

The Council on Foreign relations has a report on Africa.
PDF download is free.

Since I just downloaded it, I can't say if it's good or bad (It's probably above my head anyway).
but it's something for anyone interested to read.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Net censorship in Zimbabwe

The Interception of Communication Bill will empower the government to monitor telephones and electronic mail of any individuals suspected of threatening "national security," says The Zimbabwean.

"The government will set up a 'communication centre to monitor and intercept certain communications in the course of their transmission through a telecommunication, postal or any other related service system,' reads part of the Bill."

President Robert Mugabe is likely to use his ruling Zanu (PF) party's majority in Parliament to push through the Bill in the next three months, says the story, continuing

"Last month, Zimbabwean journalists, media lawyers and internet service providers vowed to lobby parliamentarians to block the passage of the new law saying it violated their constitutional right to freedom of expression....


...Human rights groups in Zimbabwe say Mugabe wants to use the law to stifle criticism because of the severe six-year old economic crisis many blame on his government's wrong policies.
Zimbabwe already has some of the toughest media laws in the world that restrict the free flow of information among citizens with for example, journalists being required to register with a government-appointed commission before they can be allowed to practise their profession....

Housing conditions still bad

GENEVA (Reuters) - Living conditions have worsened in Zimbabwe, where most of the 700,000 people who lost homes or businesses in mass evictions last year were still struggling to find shelter, a United Nations housing expert said on Thursday.

Miloon Kothari, the U.N. special rapporteur on adequate housing, said most of those displaced by President Robert Mugabe's May 2005 eviction campaign remained homeless, in resettlement camps or were living without food, safe water or sanitation.

"It is as bad as it can get," Kothari said.

He took aim at the international community for what he called a "shocking" lack of pressure on Zimbabwe....

"The international community seems to have forgotten the people of Zimbabwe," he told reporters at U.N. headquarters in Geneva.

The Mugabe government used police and bulldozers to demolish street stalls and residences in urban shantytowns in its "Operation Restore Order" eviction campaign.

While authorities said it was aimed at cracking down on black market activity, critics decried the evictions as part of a political swipe against the largely urban supporters of Zimbabwe's main opposition party....

"We have information that another round of evictions is imminent," he said...

Food shortages predicted

JOHANNESBURG, 1 June (IRIN) - Zimbabwe's response to food insecurity is too little and too late, a recent government fact-finding mission has revealed.Presenting the results of an inquiry by the Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare parliamentary portfolio committee into the drought relief distribution programme to the House of Assembly, committee chairperson and ZANU-PF Member of Parliament, Mabel Mawere, said distribution delay had left some people on the brink of starvation."Our fact-finding mission covered the hardest-hit areas of Masvingo and Matabeleland South [provinces in southern Zimbabwe], but according to my understanding it is affecting the whole country," Mawere told IRIN.....

Zim commercial farmers in Mozambique leaving

Mozambique started openly courting Zimbabwe's mainly white commercial farmers after the ZANU-PF government instituted its fast-track land reform programme in 2000 and the agricultural sector, a mainstay of the neighbouring country's economy, began to crumble.But unlike Zambia, Mozambique's romance with the migrant Zimbabweans appears to have faded in the past two years, "mostly because Mozambique was not ready for them", said Joseph Hanlon, a senior lecturer in development policy and practice at the London-based Open University. Hanlon has written extensively on the subject.

Encouraged by tobacco and paprika companies, which provided financial support, at least 42 farmers moved to Mozambique, mostly in the central Manica province on the Zimbabwe border, where the government allowed them to rent up to 1,000ha of land for 50 years.

According to Joel Caibone, a member of local civil society, the Zimbabwean farmers not only helped uplift subsistence farmers in the province, but "also brought and taught new farming techniques to the local farmers".Small-scale farmers were also contracted to plant paprika and tobacco to meet the companies' demand, and at the peak of the agricultural boom that followed, 13,500 families were growing tobacco, 3,600 growing sunflowers and more than 3,000 growing paprika, as well as over 100 groups organised to grow baby corn and other vegetables for export, said Hanlon's paper,

'The Manica Miracle is Over', written jointly with researcher Teresa Smart.The farmers managed to create 5,000 permanent and seasonal jobs. Four units were also set up to process roses and vegetables for export to Europe, and sunflower oil and milk for local sale, creating hundreds more jobs, according to Hanlon.In the last two years the situation has changed drastically.

"Most of the Zimbabweans are in deep financial trouble and some have already left," Hanlon told IRIN. Production of roses and sunflower oil has ended, while medium-scale Mozambican and Zimbabwean farmers are producing smaller quantities of tobacco and paprika. The number of families growing tobacco has dwindled to 5,000 and there are few jobs on farms.The main problem was that the Zimbabwean farmers lacked funds and Mozambique does not have an agricultural support system.

There was a "lack of technical support, there is a total lack of finance for farming - both short-term annual finance for inputs and wages, and long-term investment finance. In many other countries, land is cleared and dams and basic irrigation infrastructure built by the government, usually on very long-term soft loans. In Mozambique, this is all the responsibility of the farmer, and there is no credit," explained Hanlon.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Z$100 000 only enough to buy a loaf of bread

A NEW $100,000 banknote will be issued in Zimbabwe today. With a value of about 67p, it is worth only the price of a loaf of bread...

Despite the hyperinflation, mass unemployment and crippling shortages of fuel and foreign currency, Zimbabwe is a country of millionaires. Shoppers have to carry huge wads of cash to buy the basic foodstuffs available in most shops.

“Last week I filled a single trolley with $30 million of groceries, and I had to count out 600 notes of $20,000 at the checkout counter,” John Robertson, an economist, said.

Despite the economic gloom, he said that at least the new note “means when we go shopping, we don’t have to take a suitcase of money: we can carry it in a shoulder bag”.

As the Government announced the introduction of the note, queues were forming outside banks that had begun to limit withdrawals because of the latest shortage of currency. All coins disappeared from circulation two years ago.

Gideon Gono, governor of the central bank, said that the note was being introduced “to ensure convenience to the public”. Although he predicted that inflation would be down to 50 per cent in a year’s time, he held out the prospect of even bigger denominations if the new note failed to ease the banking problems....

Zim introduces #Z 100 000 bill

bad news: it's only worth $.97 US

Zambia reaps, Zim lays fallow

The relationship between migrant Zimbabweans and their neighbour to the northwest, Zambia, has generally been mutually beneficial. According to the state-run Zambia Investment Centre (ZIC), Zimbabweans have made business commitments worth more than US$73 million since 2002, creating almost 10,000 jobs.The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, two of the world's leading multilateral lending institutions, estimate that harsh economic conditions may have forced a quarter of Zimbabwe's 12 million people to seek survival elsewhere.Zimbabwe has suffered acute shortages of food, fuel and foreign currency since its fast-track land reform programme began in 2000; housing, education and transport costs have jumped and, according to the IMF, the country has the highest inflation rate in the world. Tony Hawkins, a professor at the Graduate School of Management of the University of Zimbabwe, said recently that until 2002, Zimbabwe was the second largest economy after South Africa in the 14-member Southern African Development Community; now only Malawi and tiny Swaziland and Lesotho are worse off...

Zim: is the army taking over?

Senior military officers have in recent months been appointed to top posts in public institutions, including state-run companies, the central bank and the judiciary, as the armed forces increase their influence over civilian affairs.

The officers’ upward march has been so swift that it has taken the public by surprise. The latest appointment was of an army general to be the country's top tax collector, overseeing the running of the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, ZIMRA.

A retired army general, Solomon Mujuru, is being widely touted as the man most likely to succeed Mugabe as state president. Mujuru, under the war name Rex Nhongo, was commander of Mugabe's guerrilla forces in the war of liberation against white rule in the 1970s.

The head of Zimbabwe's powerful and much-feared Central Intelligence Organisation, CIO, is a former army brigadier. Two judges are former top military officers. One of the eight provincial governors is a former general. An army colonel is permanent secretary in the ministry of transport.

The list goes on. Military men head the strategic Grain Marketing Board and the prison service. Mugabe's inner cabinet has four soldiers serving as ministers or deputy ministers.

Less visible, but perhaps more important, is the extent of the military's influence further down the bureaucratic chain. Many managers at the Grain Marketing Board are ex-soldiers. Having thrown white farmers off their land, the military has taken over many of the farms in a move termed Operation Maguta. Military men at the Grain Marketing Board are also setting up camps on the land of black farmers and ordering them to grow maize, the country's staple food, to try to avert widespread hunger. Teams of soldiers are forcing farmers to plough up other crops such as onions, tomatoes and potatoes without telling them what price they will be paid for compulsory acquisition of maize.

Most of Zimbabwe's top military brass are veterans of the 1970s liberation war against white minority rule and are fiercely loyal to ZANU PF. With new recruits to the military now coming from Mugabe’s hated youth militia, there is little hope that the military will become an impartial body in the near future. The militia training camps, which have been in existence since 2001, are places where school leavers are imbued with "patriotic values" as defined by the ruling party. Graduates from these camps, known as Green Bombers from their distinctive olive green uniforms, have been used to terrorise government opponents at successive elections.
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