Monday, July 31, 2006
Sunday, July 30, 2006
MASVINGO - War veterans at Chikore Farm in the southern town of Masvingo are demanding Z$142 billion in compensation from a Zimbabwe government minister whom they accuse of harvesting where he did not sow.
The war veterans are accusing Stan Mudenge, who is the Minister of Higher Education, of forcibly harvesting and selling their tomato crop at the farm which has been the subject of a bitter ownership dispute between the former liberation war fighters and the minister.
In a letter of demand to Mudenge, a copy of which was seen by ZimOnline yesterday, the war veterans say they will institute legal action against Mudenge if he fails to pay within seven days. ...
"I do not own any other farm. Chikore Farm belongs to me and anyone intending to take it from me is like a person intending to take away my wife," said the minister. The war veterans invaded Chikore Farm in 2003 in what was a fresh round of farm invasions against the few remaining white farmers following the violent farm seizures that began in 2000. Last year, State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa who is also in charge of land reform, ordered the former fighters to move out of the property to pave way for Mudenge. The war veterans are however resisting the move demanding compensation for their loss. Several government ministers and influential members of President Robert Mugabe's ZANU PF party have been accused in the past of using their powerful positions to push out black villagers who occupied farms after the ouster white farmers after 2000. The government ministers have in most cases forcibly taken and sold unharvested crops on the properties without compensating the previous owners. - ZimOnline
"I do not own any other farm. Chikore Farm belongs to me and anyone intending to take it from me is like a person intending to take away my wife," said the minister.
The war veterans invaded Chikore Farm in 2003 in what was a fresh round of farm invasions against the few remaining white farmers following the violent farm seizures that began in 2000.
Last year, State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa who is also in charge of land reform, ordered the former fighters to move out of the property to pave way for Mudenge. The war veterans are however resisting the move demanding compensation for their loss.
Several government ministers and influential members of President Robert Mugabe's ZANU PF party have been accused in the past of using their powerful positions to push out black villagers who occupied farms after the ouster white farmers after 2000.
The government ministers have in most cases forcibly taken and sold unharvested crops on the properties without compensating the previous owners. - ZimOnline
Saturday, July 29, 2006
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's government unveiled changes to the 2006 budget in a policy review on Thursday, but critics said it failed to offer any proposals to reverse an economic crisis that has impoverished the population.
Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa predicted positive growth for the first time in 8 years, although lower than previous estimates, but did not spell out how he would tackle a meltdown widely blamed on the government which has left Zimbabweans grappling with soaring living costs.
Murerwa said the economy would probably grow by 0.3-0.6 percent during 2006, down from a previous estimate of 1-2 percent. It shrank 2.7 percent in 2005 and has contracted by more than 40 percent since 1999, pressured by chronic shortages of fuel, foreign exchange and food.
Murerwa had no answers for the economic crisis which has pushed inflation up to nearly 1,200 percent -- a world record -- and unemployment up to 70 percent.
"The challenges we are facing, though seemingly entrenched, are surmountable," he told parliament in a televised statement.
"The biggest challenge remains that of runaway inflation, which is constraining economic growth prospects and imposing enormous social and economic hardships on the population."....
ZIMBABWE's central bank is expected to make a massive devaluation of the battered local currency when the governor announces his monetary policy statement on Monday.
The devaluation is aimed at closing the widening gap between the fixed official and parallel market rates.
The adjustment of the crashing Zimbabwean dollar could boost export earnings and ease foreign currency shortages.
It would, however, unleash a new wave of price increases across the crumbling economy.
The local unit, now the weakest currency in the world, is currently fixed at Z$101195,54 to the US dollar, while the parallel market rate has continued to fall away to Z$500000, making the official rate irrelevant.
The fixed rate has remained unchanged since the last monetary policy statement in January.
Yesterday, we read that Zim was doing a great job with HIV since their rate has gone down.
Today we read:
A human rights group says the "abusive policies" of the Zimbabwean government are fuelling the HIV/Aids epidemic.
Human Rights Watch says despite a recent drop in infection rates, 20% of the population had HIV with thousands dying each week.
They say current policies, including forced evictions and expensive health care, were squandering progress in the fight against the disease.
The Zimbabwean government has not yet responded to the report.
"Zimbabwe has been hailed as a 'success story' in the fight against Aids," said Joe Amon, director of the HIV/Aids programme at Human Rights Watch.
"But abusive government policies are blocking treatment for those who desperately need it and making even more people vulnerable to infection." ...
The New York based rights group said up to 1.6 million people in Zimbabwe were living with HIV but only 25,000 of the 350,000 people in immediate need of antiretroviral drugs had access to treatment.
They claimed forced evictions had left HIV sufferers living in appalling conditions and had also interfered with prevention measures.
Police are alleged to have destroyed nearly 2,000 outlets providing condoms in urban townships during demolition programs, which took place last year.
The report also claimed that non-government groups attempting to fight the disease, which kills more than 3,000 people a week, were harassed and intimidated by government officials.
Human Rights Watch called on the international donor community - which has withdrawn large amounts of assistance because of the government's poor human rights record - to increase funding for HIV/Aids programs.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
HIV/AIDS prevalence rate continued to decline to 21 percent this year in Zimbabwe as more and more people changed their sexual behavior, Zimbabwean Health and Child Welfare Minister David Parirenyatwa has said.
One little problem: If people change their bahavior, the rate stays the same.
There are three ways to make the rate go down.
One: People with HIV migrate. The previous story noted that one quarter of it's people migrated. Since people who migrate tend to be healthy, they could not have AIDS but could be HIV positive (depends on how you make the diagnosis).
On the other hand, HIV is more common among the young and better educated, which is the same group that would be able to migrate.
Two: You increase the baseline population of HIV negative people. In other words, you have lots and lots of babies. This increases the negative numbers so the postive percentage goes down.
Three People with HIV die.
Alas, there has been a famine, and those with HIV are more prone to die of minor infections or of things like TB. With the decrease in money for drugs, with the emigration of doctors and nurses, with the flight to the rural areas where there is less medical treatment, and with poor nutrition, one would expect that many people with HIV would die of other diseases.
At a recent technological conference in Bulawayo, the second largest city of Zimbabwe, Parirenyatwa said his country had seen a remarkable decline in the prevalence rate from 31 percent in 1999 to 21 percent this year....
He urged researchers to explore the use of traditional medicines for the treatment of HIV/AIDS-related illnesses and improve the effectiveness of anti-retrovirals.Of course there is no proof they work but it looks nice on paper.
Zimbabwe is in a state of economic collapse, suffering from the world's highest inflation rate _ more than 1,000 percent _ and shortages of all basic goods. A quarter of its 16 million people has emigrated since 2000 and millions more are dependent on aid....
Mugabe said a national regulating authority would be established in the coming year to monitor electronic communications. Critics say the move will give the secret police extraordinary powers to intercept mail, e-mail, telephone or cell phone communications.
Mugabe said recent rains have raised hope for an "economic turnaround" and a revival of agriculture under new, black holders of land grants. A recent government report said only 40 percent had occupied their farms or small-scale plots, leaving millions of acres derelict and unproductive......
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Last year police busted an ivory smuggling syndicate when they found 72 elephant tusks at a home in Harare's plush Greendale suburb.
Investigations have also netted a former legislator for the ruling Zanu-PF party, Walter Mutsauri, who allegedly abused his trophy dealer's licence by selling 67 tusks to two Chinese nationals, according to the Herald.
The newspaper said a six-member committee had been set up to establish a new working system for ivory dealers that will allow the authorities to better monitor their activities.
There is also a need to put in place stringent monitoring measures to control the country's domestic ivory market and ensure that all licensed ivory dealers adhere to what is required of them by Zimbabwe's laws and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), Mbewe added.
Harare - Any operator exporting dimension stone extracted from a quarry in Zimbabwe shall offer at least 10 percent of each grade and category of dimension stone extracted to local processors.
According to the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe Regulations 2006 published in Friday’s Government Gazette, any processor who was also an operator or was affiliated to an operator and wishes to export dimension stone extracted from a quarry in Zimbabwe shall utilise all production from mining operations before applying for a quota of dimension stone from other operators.
The regulations describe dimension stone as any stone, including its products that were sold on the basis of its dimensions, whether in height, length or width and shall include granite marble.
Any processor who was also an operator or was affiliated to an operator and wishes to export dimension stone extracted from a quarry in Zimbabwe and has utilised all production from mining operations may apply, in equal quantities, for a quota of dimension stone from other operators....
Sweden is mobilising donors and other European countries to support Zimbabwe's fight against HIV/AIDS, Swedish Ambassador to Zimbabwe Sten Rylander said on Friday.
Most Western donors froze aid to Zimbabwe after President Robert Mugabe's controversial fast-track land reform programme began in 2000, followed by reports of violence and intimidation during the 2000 and 2002 elections.
"We want to pool resources and channel them through the civil society organisations and the United Nations," Rylander told reporters in the capital, Harare, adding that the country's drop in HIV prevalence - from 24.6 percent in 2003 to 20.1 percent in 2005 - was a positive development that had to be sustained....
Monday, July 24, 2006
The government denies any sinister intent, saying it is putting its anti-terrorism legislation in line with international practice. But Zimbabwe is not on the front lines of the war on terror, and government agents could use the proposed powers to monitor the communications of the political opposition, journalists and human rights activists who are critical of President Robert Mugabe.
Secret police and intelligence agents could violate attorney-client privilege, track financial transactions and negotiations, and eavesdrop on anyone's private life. Anytime a Zimbabwean visits a Web site, makes a deal or tells a joke, Big Brother could be listening or watching.
Internet and cell phone service providers would, at their own expense, have to provide the government with equipment to sort and intercept communications.
The aim "is to monitor and block communications for political reasons and to use information they get to persecute opponents," said Lovemore Madhuku, chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly, a group critical of repressive laws and actions of Mugabe's government.
Telephoned from neighboring South Africa, he said: "It is part and parcel of the process of controlling dissent and stifling democratic debate."
South Africa has quietly adopted a similar law, with the important difference that a court must approve any interception. In Zimbabwe, that authority would rest solely with Mugabe's minister of transport and communications....
Saturday, July 22, 2006
THE Zimbabwe Independent news editor Dumisani Muleya's series of stories revealing the covert take-over of three privately-owned newspapers by Zimbabwe's intelligence services have won him the Free Press Africa Award at the CNN MultiChoice African Journalists Awards 2006.
Daily Mirror photographer, Desmond Kwande, scooped the Mohamed Amin Photographic Award for his snaps of victims of Operation Murambatsvina, a botched urban clean-up programme which left close to a million homeless.
The two journalists received their awards at a ceremony in Mozambique last Saturday....
Mr Taylor was locked in his cell for up to 16 hours a day and could not make as many phone calls as he was allowed in Sierra Leone.
He also complained that his client was forced to eat "Eurocentric" food...
HERE is a list of Taylor's crimes against humanity...
"....It is important to note that food supply is a national priority attainable either by intensifying crop production or by increasing the area of land under cultivation.
Experts assert that agriculture is a contentious issue in that Africa now needs more than 20 million tonnes of grain each year. This surpasses the current production.
With the population growing at more than three percent per year in many African countries and agricultural production increasing by a lower percentage, the deficit will continuously increase.
Thus, the pertinent question is how African producers can narrow the gap between supply of grains and other staple foods in light of rising demand....
In the past, food shortages have been bridged to some extent, by purchases and by food aid. However, neither of these options will offer adequate relief in the future....
Despite prevailing low productivity, environmental degradation and urban migration, Africa's situation, though desperate, is by no means hopeless, planners claim.
However, in order to institute further improvements to arrest and maintain balances between population growth and food security, experts note that rapid but measured action is undoubtedly called for in terms of policy changes.
According to experts, these policy changes should prioritise rural development like what Zimbabwe has embarked on. With that, more emphasis should be put on production, processing and marketing of food products.
There is no denying that the rate of increase in population in Africa is among the highest in the world and many see this as a fundamental contributor to under-development.
However, experts say there are many examples worldwide where increased population has made possible increased production.
At the time of the International Conference on Population and Development, held in Cairo in 1994, one delegate wrote: "Each new mouth comes attached to two useful hands and a brain, by which more food can be produced.".....
What is often lacking are the financial resources and the political commitment to prioritise the rural community in national development...."
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
CBTU President William Lucy announced that CBTU would aggressively reach out to African American media, labor websites/blogs and other progressive media this summer to get Americans “tuned into the Zimbabwe crisis.” Lucy also said CBTU would join other organizations in demonstrations at the Zimbabwe Embassy and other locations.....
Lucy, who is also international secretary-treasurer of the 1.4 million-member American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said,“CBTU will not be a silent witness to this tragedy unfolding on distant soil liberated by heroic freedom fighters. Zimbabwe’s people, who are suffering crushing poverty, homelessness, hunger and rampant violations of human and trade union rights, need to know that their cries for help echo in our hearts, no less than those of our sisters and brothers in South Africa who prevailed over the racist apartheid regime.”
Lucy was one of the founders of the Free South Africa Movement in the 1980s, which conducted the most effective grassroots anti-apartheid campaign in the U.S. He was also instrumental in raising union revenue to finance Nelson Mandela’s historic trip to the U.S. in 1990.
In the 1960s Mugabe became an icon of the Zimbabwe nationalist movement that fought white-minority rule and won independence in 1979. However, his Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) party has tightened its autocratic grip on power as Mugabe’s support in urban areas has drastically waned. In 2002, he was reelected in a vote marked by government intimidation of the opposition, a crackdown on the free press, and charges of vote rigging.
Mugabe’s descent from icon to despot is wrenching for many black Americans. In the 1960s, a lot of black activists here gave money and claimed solidarity with Zimbabwe’s liberation fighters. Josh Williams, president of the Washington, D.C. central labor council, recently returned from a visit to Zimbabwe with a verdict on Mugabe’s leadership.
“He [Mugabe] has lost touch with the people,” Williams said. “In the past 10 years Mugabe has become a totally different person.” Williams, who represented the AFL-CIO at the 25th anniversary convention of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions in May, said “Workers there [Zimbabwe] find it hard to accept that many of them are being beaten, arrested and harassed by the same people that they marched with 25 years ago for [Zimbabwe’s] liberation.”
Mugabe’s hand of repression greeted Williams when he arrived at the airport in Harare. “There were about 20 other labor organizations that sent representatives to the ZCTU convention,” Williams said. “But when we arrived at Zimbabwe’s airport, 11 delegates were denied admission and sent back home by the government, apparently because they had been critical of past actions taken by Mugabe.”
To squelch growing dissent from the displaced urban poor, the trade unions, and farmers whose lands have been confiscated by the military, Mugabe has virtually strangled democracy in Zimbabwe. ...
...Intern doctors, referred to as junior doctors in Zimbabwe, are on strike for better pay and working conditions, the umpteenth time the interns who effectively run public hospitals have downed tools to press for better remuneration since the country's economic crisis began seven years ago.
The doctors have defied a government directive earlier this week to return to work while their grievances are being examined, insisting they would only call off the strike after firm commitment from the government to pay them Z$500 million per month, up from a present salary of $57 million which is way below the poverty datum line of $68 million.
The doctors also want the government to improve supplies of essential medicines and equipment in public hospitals, saying they are sick and tired of watching patients die of otherwise treatable diseases simply because there are no medicines.
But the strike has dealt a knock-out punch to the public health system that was already on its knees after years of mismanagement and under-funding.
For example at Mpilo and the United Bulawayo Hospitals - the two biggest referral hospitals in the city and the surrounding Matabeleland and Midlands province - only a handful of senior doctors could be seen attending to only the worst of emergency cases.
The outpatients departments at the hospitals were shut down.
It was the same situation at Harare Central hospital and at Parirenyatwa, the two biggest hospitals in the capital city and where ZimOnline reporters witnessed dozens of patients some on wheelchairs being turned away because there were no doctors....
However, one Africa analyst does not agree that Africa was short-sighted by the meeting.
Yolanda K. Spiers is the head of the Protocol and Diplomacy Unit of the Center for International Political Studies at the University of Pretoria. She told English to Africa reporter William Eagle “I didn’t expect as much from this summit as I did from last year’s. I think if people did they were slightly naïve.” She says she sees encouraging signs that the G8, and in particular Britain and France, remain consistent in their support for Africa: “ Britain… rallied other countries to start the process of writing off debt to the most indebted countries, and (we find encouraging) France’s pressure for a progress report for the summit next year in Germany…Those (two) countries are committed to a process of getting Africa out of the poverty trap.”
Ms. Spiers says it’s important for Africa to have G-8 support, but she says the continent’s leaders need to take responsibility for happens within their own countries. Political oppression, she says, stunts economic growth. She says the continent needs to pull itself up by its bootstraps.
Tony Blair's website point out:
On Africa, we made modest, but important, progress in taking forward the commitments of last year, including:
- scaling up action on HIV/AIDS through replenishing the Global Fund in 2006 and 2007;
- new initiatives on vaccines for malaria and pneunoccoceus;
- fully funding the Education Fast Track initiative.
We agreed to review progress on Africa again at the G8 Summit in 2007 .
I have asked the International Development Secretary to set out key milestones for the coming 12 months in his next report to Parliament. These will include supporting 10 African countries, developing long term education plans and getting the debts cancelled for 5 more African countries. Kofi Annan will also convene the Africa Progress Panel to monitor progress.
I also discussed Sudan with a number of G8 leaders and Kofi Annan. We agreed the situation in Darfur was unacceptable and we needed a quick deployment of the UN force.
Monday, July 17, 2006
President Robert Mugabe has ridiculed followers for consulting witch doctors to choose his successor, dismissing the suggestion that he is going to step down.
Shaking his fist, Mr Mugabe, 82, told Zanu PF leaders and party elders at a weekend "consultative" rally in the country's capital, Harare, that they should not rely on witchcraft to choose Zimbabwe's next president.
Mr Mugabe, who drew cheers and laughter from the crowd, told them: "The things we hear about succession, succession, succession. We hear lots of unbelievable stories about succession. We hear some people are consulting witch doctors, but the biggest witch doctor is the people of Zimbabwe. There is no need to consult witch doctors."...
BAMAKO (Reuters) - A delegation of U.S. cotton farmers visiting West Africa said Washington's multi-billion dollar subsidies to its cotton industry were worsening hardship in the world's poorest region.
During a trip to Mali, West Africa's largest cotton producer, the group of farmers from California, Illinois, Vermont and Kansas witnessed conditions in one of the world' poorest countries....
Francois Traore, president of the cotton growers association in neighboring Burkina Faso, noted that while there were only 25,000 cotton growers in the United States, there were between 15 and 20 million people in Africa dependent on the crop.
"We want the African farmer to be able to live from his work. The American farmer also lives from his work, but to the detriment of others," he said.The European union is just as bad, but not covered by this article...just another question of how globalization will lower trade barriers to help poor countries...
Of course, one can argue that unicultivation of one crop whose prices rise and fall is not a good strategy for Africa...
Friday, July 14, 2006
MEMBERS of the European Union (EU), George W Bush and Tony Blair, I would like to bring to your attention the recent act of violence by the Tsvangirai-led MDC faction that attacked the MDC legislator for Harare North Constituency Trudy Stevenson and four other high-ranking officials of the Mutambara faction for allegedly turning against Tsvangirai.
It is amazing to note and realise that you have remained silent on this attack, which was condemned by every progressive Zimbabwean.
You are on record for claiming to be the champions of democracy in conjunction with the MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai who wants the world to believe that he is Zimbabwe's chosen Messiah.
What Tsvangirai and his followers did was a clear sign of violating people's democratic rights and freedom of association to be affiliated to a political party of their choice.
Whenever there are fabricated reports of violence in Zimbabwe, you have always pointed fingers and poured spurious allegations on Zanu-PF and its war veterans.
You have even gone to the extent of calling for our President, Cde Mugabe's head for alleged human rights violations...
It's good to be "king"...and owning all the local newspapers...
HARARE (Reuters) - President Robert Mugabe said on Thursday his government was "very worried" about the economy, but predicted Zimbabwe would ride out an escalating crisis he blamed on former colonial ruler Britain.
The southern African country is mired in its worst problems since Mugabe came to power at independence in 1980, with chronic shortages of food, fuel and foreign currency fuelling government fears of possible popular unrest.
Zimbabwe's economy has shrunk by more than a third during a recession which has lasted for eight years, with inflation running at a world record of more than 1,180 percent and unemployment estimated at about 70 percent.
In an interview with a group of journalists, Mugabe rejected charges Zimbabwe was in trouble due to state mismanagement, bad governance and human rights abuses -- blaming instead what he called illegal sanctions championed by London....
Zimbabwe's National Constitutional Assembly, a civil society activist organization, said 145 of its members remained in police custody Thursday in Harare, Bulawayo and Mutare following protests on Wednesday demanding a new constitution.
All told, NCA sources said, 411 people were arrested in the three cities. Though there were no arrests at protests in Masvingo and Gweru, spokesman Madock Chivasa said police had ordered the nongovernmental organization's regional chairmen in those cities to report Thursday and Friday in connection with the demonstrations.
Chivasa told Carole Gombakomba of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that NCA members involved in the protests had previously agreed not to pay fines amounting to a guilty plea, but to oblige authorities to arraign them in court where they could contest the charges of assembling in violation of laws put in place by the ruling party.
In Bulawayo, meanwhile, police were said to have arrested 208 members of a local small business group. Vice Secretary Edward Manning of the Bulawayo Upcoming Traders Association said the group sought permission to demonstrate on Wednesday, emphasizing that their demonstration was separate from those staged by the National Constitutional Assembly, but were denied permission. The police raids followed.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Affected beasts usually develop some lumps on their skins before dying.
"Farmers are advised to buy vaccines and vaccinate their cattle. The disease is preventable. This year is a fairly bad year regarding the disease.
"The disease occurs in cycles and an outbreak is experienced, after seven or so years," said Dr Hargreaves.
He, however, assured farmers that the disease was not a major threat to the national herd.
"It is not a serious matter where our department is involved, but there is need for the farmers to prevent the disease. It is not a disease which affects trade in cattle products," he said.
Dr Hargreaves said farmers with indigenous cattle breeds were at an advantage because these were fairly resistant to the lumpy skin disease.
"They (indigenous cattle) are fairly resistant to the disease. Exotic breeds have been more susceptible," he said.
He said while the disease was not a major threat, there have been a shortage of vaccines since the South African manufacturer was failing to cope with the demand from the whole region....
LINK is about the disease
LUMPY SKIN DISEASE
(Pseudo-urticaria, Neethling virus disease, exanthema nodularis bovis, knopvelsiekte)
Lumpy skin disease (LSD) is an acu:te to chronic viral disease of cattle characterized by skin nodules that may have inverted conical necrosis (sitfast) with lymphadenitis accompanied by a persistent fever.
The most likely way for LSD to enter a new area is by introduction of infected animals. Biting insects that have fed on infected cattle may travel and be blown for substantial distances. It is likely that LSD spread to Israel via contaminated insects blown across the Sinai Desert (21). The movement of contaminated hides represents another potential means for this resistant virus to move.
If LSD is confirmed in a new area before extensive spread occurs, the area should be quarantined, infected and exposed animals slaughtered, and the premises cleaned and disinfected. Vaccination of susceptible animals within the quarantine should be considered.
If the disease has spread over a large area, the most effective means of controlling losses from LSD is vaccination. However, even with vaccination, consideration still should be given to eliminating infected and exposed herds by slaughter, proper disposal of animals and contaminated material, and by cleaning and disinfecting contaminated premises, equipment, and facilities.
WFP statement said Harare was not ready to present food data. Yet the country's Central Statistical Office has informed the Southern African development community that the cereal harvest in the current market year is some 1.7 million tons.
However, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization has projected a cereal harvest of at most some 1.2 million tons, while the U.S. Department of Agriculture has estimated Zimbabwe's maize output at just 900,000 tons.
The secrecy which has enveloped Zimbabwe food production data deepened earlier this year when Agriculture Minister Joseph Made warned foreign organizations against doing crop assessments, calling them illegal.
The WFP has said it would need US$85.5 million to feed some 3 million people in the region. But it has warned that the number could surge when the “lean spell," also known as the "hunger season," begins as harvested crops are consumed.
The recent attack on Trudy Stevenson, a Movement for Democratic Change, or M-D-C, member of parliament, is a reminder of the violence that has stalked Zimbabwean politics in recent years. The U.S. endorses the investigation by the M-D-C of this violent act and calls for an investigation by the government as well.
Standards of political conduct in Zimbabwe have been eroded by years of organized assaults on opposition figures, the independent media, judges, and civil society. The moral rot is deepest in the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front, or ZANU-PF, which has been responsible for the vast majority of the offenses. Few, if any, of the perpetrators of these acts were ever punished.
A recent report by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Nongovernmental Forum says that there is widespread evidence of human rights abuses by the government of Zimbabwe, headed by President Robert Mugabe. According to the Forum, since July 2001, more than fifteen thousand cases of organized violence and torture have been reported in Zimbabwe.
Most of the perpetrators, says the report, are the Zimbabwean police......
Monday, July 10, 2006
"Our money loses half its value every four months," explained Zimbabwean economist John Robertson. "The Z$100,000 note at the official rate is US$1, but really it's worth 25 cents. In four months, it'll be worth 12 cents. A million-dollar note is more realistic."
None of the new denominations are, in fact, real currency. The government does not have the money to pay for the paper on which real money is printed, so it mass prints notes on ordinary low-quality paper, with no security features. Known as "bearer cheques," these bills are blank on one side and resemble Monopoly money.
This doesn't mean the smaller denominations no longer exist. In fact, even the copper one-cent coin is still considered legal tender.....
nevitably, people innovate to survive. A friend who is a game ranger told me he no longer banks his money when he gets paid. "I go and buy furniture — chairs, couches, tables. At least a couch is worth something. We're slowly going back to a barter system," he said.
With unemployment at more than 70% and the average monthly salary at about 140 U.S. dollars — not enough to pay rent or school fees — a vast parallel market has sprung up. Pulling up at a supermarket in the eastern city of Mutare, my former hometown, I was approached by a dozen youths offering to sell me sugar, cooking oil and maize meal — essential foods that supermarkets must sell at low, state-controlled prices. Informal traders hoard these goods and, when the inevitable shortages come, sell them at inflated prices. Informal trading is illegal, but it is the only way many Zimbabweans earn a living.
How did Zimbabwe get to this point? It began in the late 1990s when, in order to pay for a costly military incursion into civil war-torn Congo, President Robert Mugabe ordered the printing of vast amounts of money, and inflation climbed steeply.
But it has reached today's levels only since the commercial farm invasions, in which 4,000 out of 4,500 white commercial farmers were kicked off their land, beginning in 2000. White farmers accounted for an estimated 60% of the country's foreign currency earnings through the export of tobacco and other crops. The invasions not only crippled domestic production, they scared away foreign investment. To dig itself out of debt and pay its bills, the government has simply printed more money.
Meanwhile, production by "new farmers" — landless peasants who moved in to occupy the white farms — is pitifully low. Part of the reason is that although the government offers fuel and maize-seed subsidies to new farmers, many have discovered that it's more profitable to sell the maize seed and fuel on the black market for inflated prices than to use them on the farm. Millions of acres of once-productive commercial farmland lie fallow. Of course, the government then blames drought, even though the rains have been good.
The World Food Programme states that 800 million people suffer from hunger. The international community has to properly fund these humanitarian crises around the globe...
The U.S. Food for Peace program is a major donor to the World Food Programme....
United States leadership is again needed to rally the world in increasing funding for the World Food Programme to avoid tragedies such as the cutting of rations in the Sudan....
Increased donations will also help build infrastructure in underprivileged countries. In the Sudan, the World Food Programme is helping construct roads for a faster movement of supplies. Other aid programs improve food security and storage to preserve stock....
Summary of article: Bad USA won't give money to the magic UN to eliminate hunger...bad USA...bad USA...UN can go poof and no more hunger, but you bad people won't give the bloated UN bureaucracy money....waaaah...
Of course, we must forgive the writer, whose expertise is NOT Africa but peacemaking on a global scale...in other words, a big shot...
Not mentioned in the article: The dirty little secret that churches, mosques, temples, and small private organizations do quite a bit to eliminate hunger at the grass roots level
Also not mentioned: The fact that bad governance, corruption, and war is a major cause of hunger.
Also not mentioned: The fact that globalization and corporate investment and the development of local entrepeneurs has eliminated poverty in many countries...
Sunday, July 09, 2006
“The best thing the West can do is nothing,” he says.....
“White society is being blackmailed. The white world looks at Africa from a position of guilt,” he told a seminar at IPN, the London think tank. The beneficiaries of aid are governments, politicians, the staff of aid agencies and charities, he says. Head in hands in mock despair, he reels off a list of “charities” that sprang into being when the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria began to disburse its millions. “There was Children of Hope, there was Hope for Children, there was Help the Children.”
Vast sums vanished into the pockets of politicians and corrupt government officials. Money from Western taxpayers, corporations and individual donations raised with rock star endorsement was siphoned into private bank accounts. The scandal eventually forced the Global Fund to suspend its $200 million (£110 million) grant to Uganda.
“The sick and dying in hospitals never saw the money,” he says....
Africans don’t need handouts, they need better institutions, land reform and access to cheap mortgages.
“Countries and individuals get richer out of self-interest. Capital is a by-product of development, not an input,” says Mr Mwenda.
Aid is directing self-interest elsewhere because, instead of engaging in a risky dialogue with their citizens about reform, African politicians would rather talk to aid donors and solicit handouts. “Africans need to move on from the slave trade and stop whining,” says Mr Mwenda.
He compares the old colonial administrators rattling around in Land Rovers with today’s army of foreign aid officials and government bureaucrats. “There were 72 colonial administrators and frugal public expenditure. Today, there are 2,800 foreign expatriates. They fight poverty in a BMW. When was Uganda more colonised, in 1962 or today?” .....
Note: The guy complaining may run for Uganda's president...
Friday, July 07, 2006
An average salary in Zimbabawe is Zim$20 million (US$200), and last week the monthly cost of a basic food basket for a family of six jumped to Zim$60 million (US$600). A critical lack of foreign exchange means shortages of imported items, including medicines, schoolbooks, agricultural inputs and spare parts.
Chiyangwa, a nephew of President Robert Mugabe, rose from being a boxing and music promoter to head the black business empowerment Affirmative Action Group before winning a seat in parliament. He was detained last year on treason charges, after a string of arrests when a South African spy network was allegedly uncovered. Now he makes his money in real estate.A property consultant in the capital, Harare, told IRIN the upper end of the real estate market was booming. "Our expensive houses are generally in the [Zim]$15 billion [US$150,000] category, which is where we are getting most of our business," said Vimbai Sithole. "In a good month we can get as many as five clients buying super-luxury houses worth more than [Zim]$50 billion [US$500,000]."......
t became a lot more expensive in the month from May to June for an average family of six in to survive, according to the latest survey by the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe.
The Council reported that the cost of a basket of basic goods needed by households rose 24% in one month from Z$49 million to Z$61 million (US$490 to US$610)
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
But almost all of the vehicles that convey citizens around the streets of the Congolese capital share one thing in common: A small Chinese lantern dangling from the rear-view mirror.
The trinket is just one visible example of the recent boom in cheap Chinese-made goods in post-war Kinshasa.
'We are seeing more and more Chinese in the city,' observes one taxi driver. 'I think they're mostly business people.'
The trend reflects Beijing's growing interest in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and in particular the strident Chinese economy's hunger for the natural resources the central African country has to offer.
With eastern Congo rich in gold, diamonds, copper and cobalt, the country now finds itself the centre of much speculative attention. The country's unstable political situation is also appealing to some shady prospectors, who find the payment of bribes preferable to the high taxation regimes in more established countries.
'China needs more and more raw materials, and in Congo they can help themselves almost unhindered,' according to diplomats in Kinshasa.
China has for some time been cultivating ties with DR Congo. Congolese President Joseph Kabila studied at a military academy in Beijing. China has also funded a number of infrastructural projects in DR Congo, including a highway from Kinshasa to Matadi, the main port on the river Congo. Chinese funds meanwhile also paid for the construction of the Congolese 'People's Palace' and 'Martyrs' Stadium.'
China is much beloved as a donor nation in Congo, not least because Beijing does not attach political conditions - such as pro- human rights clauses - to its financial aid.....
According to lobby organization Global Witness, China during 2004 imported an average of 1.9 million dollars' worth of cobalt on a weekly basis.
Analysts have pointed out the significant differences between DR Congo's export statistics, and the corresponding import figures for China. One reason for this is the large-scale and unregulated transport of copper ore across the border to Zambia. China also allegedly plans to renovate the rail link between Katanga and Angola in order to ship material there.
Such practices mean that DR Congo is losing out on badly-needed tax revenue from the export of its natural resources. Leading politicians meanwhile are accused of accepting bribes in return for allowing the situation to continue.
Kabila's family fortune, managed by his mother 'Mama Sifa', is meanwhile estimated to amount to around a billion dollars....
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
China’s foreign presence is ambiguous, hard to adore, difficult to dislike wholeheartedly and all-pervasive: the diplomatic equivalent of tofu. Analysts say it is open to debate on its role abroad, far more so than on domestic policy. But on the other hand, China will deal with anyone, and pariah states are a gap in the market. Despite US concerns, China treats these countries as it wishes to be treated itself: be they corrupt, inept, or genocidal, it doesn't get involved. Put aside whether this is a recipe for a new Cold War — what does it mean for Bono?
Britain’s “development community” has been searching its soul recently. In particular it seems to have gone off aid. The idealistic, hippy talk of the redistribution of wealth is now passé as the penny drops that the billions given to Africa have only kept tinpot elites in power. “I think Africans must have been smiling and cringeing at times when they saw us just thinking that money could solve their problems,” said Bono earlier this year. “Aid is not a magic bullet,” says Duncan Green, Oxfam’s head of research. “The real drivers of change are internal.”
The new buzzword is governance. Growth will come only when accountable governments establish property rights and weed out corruption. Tricky though it is, the Department for International Development is now trying to encourage good governance, by cutting back aid to countries that persecute opposition leaders and supporters. The latest approach makes sense. But, sadly, the game is up: China makes it irrelevant. It is giving billions of dollars of loans to Angola, for example, with no strings attached in return for oil contracts. Raddled old kleptocrats such as President José Eduardo dos Santos can now raise two fingers to the West.
Unlike those wussies at the IMF and the World Bank, China doesn’t make aid conditional on respect for human rights. Privately, its leaders think that the West’s claim to the moral high ground is self-serving cant. Nor does China push a model of economic development — although its new friends are welcome to learn from Beijing. That’s a worry, too, as countries on a path to democracy may think again. After decades of following one faddish Western policy after another with little to show for it, whom would you trust on reform — China with its red-hot growth rate or creaky old Europe?...
Too late the US is realising what is slipping through its fingers. A recent report by the Council on Foreign Relations called for treating Africa strategically: “The United States should engage China on ‘rules of the road’ in Africa, to end support for egregious violators of human rights, reduce incentives for corruption, protect the environment, improve the long-term prospects for stability, and reduce unfair business practices.”
Sorry, but it is just not going to happen. Africa is not a road for foreign powers to drive on. For good or ill, its leaders can choose whose rules to follow. We can engage with China or try to pick a fight. But a world in which the West can single-handedly lay down democracy and good governance? That’s just hippy talk.
Monday, July 03, 2006
"We both agreed that he should be given the time and space to do his work.
Asked if his trip to Zimbabwe was still on Annan said: "You don't have two mediators."
He said he told Mugabe that he was committed to help Zimbabwe out of its crises and would support the work of the mediator.
Mugabe last year invited Annan to pay a visit to Zimbabwe after a UN envoy criticised his government's demolitions campaign in which shacks, homes and shops were bulldozed, leaving hundreds of thousands homeless and without income.
Mugabe last week attacked what he termed "so-called initiatives to rescue Zimbabwe".
Saying these initiatives made it seem the country was about to "perish", Mugabe said: "What Zimbabwe needs is just and lawful treatment by the Western world... a recognition that it is a full, sovereign country which has the right to own and control its resources, the right to chart its own destiny unhindered."....
Actually, the headline is misleading.
Using traditional ceremonies was allowed under the Smith regieme, as was the association of N'gangas.
(Photo from meeting of Traditional Medicine association, taken in 1978).
What was forbidden was accusing someone of witchcraft, which is NOT the same thing...
You see, in traditional medicine, you got sick because of the spirits.
So you went to a N'ganga who "diagnosed" you...which is why they are called "witchdoctors" i.e. those who diagnose witchcraft, rather than "medicine men" or shamans..
Often you are sick because you mistreated someone, and needed to reconcile with them. OR maybe you mistreated someone who died, such as your mother...and so a ceremony was held.
But sometimes there was a witch in the area making people sick.
And that person would be poisoned, beaten to death, or cast out of the village...
This has nothing to do with the myths of western witchcraft...it was and is a real problem.
And witches are evil people who sometimes do exist. We did have cases of poisoning...I treated one gentleman, and sent him home, and he was repoisoned two weeks later...or one would hear stories of snakes being released into houses...
Similarly, those who prescribe herbs to cause abortion are considered witches...
There are also people who seek out witches to get power. Think of Santara or voodoo. They will hold a ceremony and kill an animal to the spirit, asking that the spirit do something, usually make a business successful.
Since Bantu custom frowns on greed and being richer/above other people, rich business is frowned upon as a bit evil (in the same way socialists see businesspeople as evil because they exploit and cheat poor people)...
The bad news is that if animals aren't strong enough, it has been known that children will be sacrificed...I didn't run into any cases in Zimbabwe, but I know of cases of mutilated boys found in Liberia when I worked there...
One reason I suspect for this law is to get support from those with traditional beliefs.
Another reason I suspect it is being done is to weaken the influence of the Catholic and Anglican churches that oppose Mugabe.
A third reason is that people suffering from HIV frequently resort to traditional healing, including the witchcraft type of healing...the report of children and babies raped in South Africa by people seeking to be cured of HIV is one manifestation of such desperation.
....The role of West-baiting once fell at AU summits to Libya's colourful leader Muammar Gaddafi but he has now been welcomed into the Western fold and Libya is soon to be taken off the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.
So why were outsiders Chavez and Ahmadinejad invited?
The striking presence of such anti-Western figures, particularly the Iranian leader, raised eyebrows among the large number of foreign envoys observing the summit, diplomats said.
One non-aligned ambassador who asked not to be identified said the invitation to Chavez was more understandable than that to Ahmadinejad since Venezuela has AU observer status.
He said the Ahmadinejad invitation was apparently extended unilaterally by Gambian President Yahya Jammeh, and provoked criticism from some countries in the 53-member AU.
But Western diplomats suggested the two invitations may also have been intended to underline Africa's breakaway from the influence of former colonial powers in Europe.
"At one time the links with Europe were still strong. But in the 21st century Africa wants to show that these links have finally been broken," one European ambassador said....But he added that it was easier for Africa to assert its independence from the West when meeting in the AU than as individual countries, many dependent on Western funding.
Translation: They want to bite the hand that feeds them to show their independence...
Sunday, July 02, 2006
Saturday, July 01, 2006
MP3 download HERE...
Hmmm...it's not politically correct to point out that the most disastrous policies of the great Liberator Mugabe are communist economic policies, the same ones that caused famine in Russia and in China...
Of course, as a tyrant, Mugabe doesn't match those countries in political genocide...he's just an average murderous dictator in that matter.