Saturday, September 30, 2006

Dafur: Genocide continues

There are places worse than is to an article on Dafur, where despite US and UK pressure on the UN, genocide is allowed to continue...

The mounting death toll in Darfur tests Annan's stirring words. But when it comes to ending genocide, words require swords. Fine words cannot protect the vulnerable from dedicated killers -- that job demands soldiers.

Annan knows this. Annan, with the support of the United States and Great Britain, wants to reinforce the hapless, ineffective African Union peacekeeping force now in Darfur. In August, the Security Council approved a U.N.-led force. But the resolution "invites" the consent of the Sudanese government in Khartoum to approve deploying U.N. troops.

Khartoum interpreted the diplo-speak "invites" to mean it could nix a U.N. force. Sudan said, "No, thanks," and called a U.N. force in Darfur "a European imperialist invasion. " Scratch "imperialist," and Khartoum's killers have the trace of a legitimate case, for a credible U.N. military force entering Darfur would be invading to halt Khartoum's state-sponsored policy of ethnic cleansing...(so) Khartoum has its "Janjaweed" militia proxies ravage, then torch, villages it suspects support Darfur rebel factions.

Ending the Darfur genocide means terminating Khartoum's savage policy. That means peacekeeping forces combating the militias would be waging war against allies of the "host" Sudanese government...

Credible combat power -- well-armed, well-led, well-supported soldiers with full authority to use decisive, deadly force -- can be deployed in Darfur.

That credible combat power must be backed by credible leaders, however. That means leaders with the spine to intervene despite Khartoum's intransigence and leaders with the grit to continue this difficult mission when (it is inevitable) the fighting gets dirty, good soldiers die and tragic mistakes occur.

Despite Annan's fine words, outside of London and Washington such leadership is not in evidence. Until it appears, "the international community" deserves to be shamed.

Friday, September 29, 2006

US Labor unions cite deteriorating rights in Zimbabwe

American labor unions have launched a program to highlight what they describe as the “rapidly deteriorating situation for human and workers rights in Zimbabwe."

The American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations, the biggest U.S. trade union organization, called a news conference in Washington on Thursday with the Coalition of Black Trade Unions, a member union, to unveil the plan.

The U.S. trade unionists have staged demonstrations at the Zimbabwean Embassy in Washington to protested the police beating of Zimbabwean labor officials September 13 following attempts to stage protests over deteriorating conditions for workers.

At Thursday's news conference, the U.S. labor officials showed video of the protests in Harare which included scenes of police arresting and beating labor officials, and interviews with some of the injured trade unionists after their release.

On September 22, Zimbabwean authorities denied entry to a delegation of U.S. labor officials led by AFL-CIO Vice President William Lucy, who is president of the CBTU, in spite of the visas issued to them by Zimbabwe's Washington embassy.

US Labor unions cite deteriorating rights in Zimbabwe

American labor unions have launched a program to highlight what they describe as the “rapidly deteriorating situation for human and workers rights in Zimbabwe."

The American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations, the biggest U.S. trade union organization, called a news conference in Washington on Thursday with the Coalition of Black Trade Unions, a member union, to unveil the plan.

The U.S. trade unionists have staged demonstrations at the Zimbabwean Embassy in Washington to protested the police beating of Zimbabwean labor officials September 13 following attempts to stage protests over deteriorating conditions for workers.

At Thursday's news conference, the U.S. labor officials showed video of the protests in Harare which included scenes of police arresting and beating labor officials, and interviews with some of the injured trade unionists after their release.

On September 22, Zimbabwean authorities denied entry to a delegation of U.S. labor officials led by AFL-CIO Vice President William Lucy, who is president of the CBTU, in spite of the visas issued to them by Zimbabwe's Washington embassy.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Mugabe: Union men deserve a beating

Zimbabwean union leaders who claim they were assaulted and tortured by police deserved their treatment, Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has said....

Lawyers claim that police assaulted at least a dozen union members before a planned protest on 13 September.....

Lawyers for the arrested union leaders say that at least 12 of them were left needing hospital treatment by police, with Zimbabwe Council of Trade Unions Secretary General Wellington Chibebe suffering a broken arm while in custody.

Mr Mugabe said the demonstration had been intended to bring about "regime change" through attracting the support of non-governmental organisations, "stupid" journalists, and the US and British governments.

Zimbabwean woman holds money and a loaf of white bread
Zimbabwe's inflation is the highest in the world at more than 1,200%

"We cannot have a situation where people decide to sit in places not allowed and when the police remove them, they say no. We can't have that, that is a revolt to the system," the Herald quoted him as saying.

He said that police had been right in dealing sternly with the protestors: "Some people are now crying foul that they were assaulted, yes, you get a beating."

Monday, September 25, 2006

Opposition protests Mugabe giving self more time in office

President Robert Mugabe sought to extend his rule for another four years yesterday when his regime announced that Zimbabwe's next presidential election will be postponed.

Mugabe: postponed next election
Mugabe: postponed next election

Mr Mugabe's present term of office ends in 2008. But the 82-year-old leader, who won a violent and widely condemned presidential election four years ago, is about to rewrite the constitution and give himself the option of staying in power beyond this limit.

The next presidential poll will be delayed until 2010, on the pretext that parliamentary elections are also due in that year and the two contests should be harmonised.

Nathan Shamuyarira, the official spokesman for the ruling Zanu-PF party and a former cabinet minister, disclosed the plan to the Sunday News, a government paper.

"We want to combine the two, the presidential and parliamentary elections, so that we do not have elections every two years," he said.

A Bill will be presented before parliament to bring this into effect, added Mr Shamuyarira. To change the electoral calendar would require changing the constitution but the ruling party, with a technical two thirds majority in parliament, can pass such amendments easily.

After 26 years of absolute power, Mr Mugabe is already the oldest leader in Africa. If he retired in 2010, he would be 86 and would have been in office for 30 years. Mugabe's previous hints that he might go in 2008 were ambiguous and analysts say the veteran Zimbabwean leader has been keeping his options open.

His bitterly divided opponents, who have failed to make a stand against his regime, united to condemn his plan to stay in power.////

The problems with Zim's internet

Ethan Zuckerman has a fantastic post about his recent trip to Zimbabwe, and the real story about the Internet outage there and the proposed Internet wiretapping law:
There’s a bill pending in Zimbabwe’s parliament - the Interception of Communications Bill - which would establish a government center for the interception of communications: email, web page downloads, instant messaging, financial transactions, as well as postal mail and courier services. The Chief of the Defence Intelligence, the Director-General of the President’s department on national security, the Commissioner of the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Commissioner-General of the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority would be able to apply to the Minister of Transport and Communications to intercept communications - requests will be granted if the minister has reason to believe “a serious offence has been or is being or will probably be committed or that there is threat to safety or national security of the country.”

To comply with the bill, Internet Service Providers would - at their own cost - have to install hardware and software to allow such communication interception to take place. Because of the financial burden this would put on providers - and because they’re concerned about the loss of privacy of Internet users - ZISPA is challenging the bill and has written a detailed response to the bill.

Link (Thanks, Ethan!)

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Zim struggles with political instability

duh...d'ya think? Just because they have 3000 percent inflation doesn't mean everyone doesn't love the great leader....

This and the previous link is to PBS in the US, a so called "scholarly" news source that I just subscribed to their feeds. But the last report and this one are so banal that I think I should work for them and teach them a course in Africa 101...

Yes, it's a June report. But "1000 percent" inflation? Accuracy anyone?

PBS discussion on foreign aid

Lots of pros and cons...

Do you make people buy things to help themselves (but some are too poor to do so) or do you give them away (and they end up on the black market used for other reasons).

It's late and I don't think it says anything profound...

Wonder if they would do something useful, like ask the Chinese merchants to set up factories...

Naaah...don't think so, since the article keeps refering to the "white man's burden"...

Zim blocks US trade unionists from entering the country

The government claimed that the visit was "unacceptable" even though the delegation had the proper visas and had arranged to meet with government officials and with nongovernmental organizations, Casey said.
"The Zimbabwe Government's decision comes after the brutal suppression of a planned peaceful demonstration by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions," he said. "This is yet another example of the Zimbabwean government's failure to allow freedom of expression and ideas."
President John Sweeney of the AFL-CIO, the nation's largest labor confederation, expressed deep concern over the Zimbawean action.
He said the delegation had hoped to meet with injured leaders of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions after the attack on them and their Sept. 13 arrests.
The five-member delegation, led by AFL-CIO Vice President William Lucy, flew to South Africa after Zimbabwe blocked their entry.
"We denounce the Zimbabwe government's attempt to prevent international labor officials from seeing and understanding the challenges facing workers and unions in their country," Sweeney said.
WASHINGTON The State Department condemned on Friday the decision of Zimbabwe's government to deny entry to a delegation from the U.S. Coalition of Black Trade Unionists.
Spokesman Tom Casey said the unionists were denied admission just before they were to have left for the southern Africa nation.
The government claimed that the visit was "unacceptable" even though the delegation had the proper visas and had arranged to meet with government officials and with nongovernmental organizations, Casey said.
"The Zimbabwe Government's decision comes after the brutal suppression of a planned peaceful demonstration by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions," he said. "This is yet another example of the Zimbabwean government's failure to allow freedom of expression and ideas."
President John Sweeney of the AFL-CIO, the nation's largest labor confederation, expressed deep concern over the Zimbawean action./

coal rich Zim imports coal

HARARE, Zimbabwe Drastic coal shortages despite massive natural deposits have had a ripple effect throughout Zimbabwe's economy and ruined a deal to renovate the country's biggest steelworks, the government has acknowledged.
The energy crisis adds to the economic woes of Zimbabwe, which is already suffering from acute shortages of fuel and many basic commodities....(it is making it impossible to manufacture steel)...

Zimbabwe has estimated reserves of 30,000 million tons of coal, enough to last the nation 6,000 years at self-sufficient 1995 consumption of 5 million tons a year, according to geological studies. The deposits are the biggest in quality coal in southern Africa.
Daily power outages in homes and industries have been worsened by the closure of coal-fired generators across the country. Zimbabwe imports 40 percent of its power from its neighbors.

(the coal shortage is making it impossible to brew beer, bake bread, etc....and is due to lack of equipment and spare parts and cash flow problems).


Friday, September 22, 2006

Just resign...

long editorial

The 9-13 revolt


By all accounts the police were out in full force the following morning, on September 13, cordoning off downtown Harare with their heavy presence and thus effectively rendering it impossible for any citizen, however aggrieved or determined, to assemble, let alone march, in any predetermined direction.

The demonstration started around 1pm with people singing and dancing in the street. "It was over in seconds," says an MDC member, one of those arrested. "The demonstrators were ordered to sit down and then the riot police went beserk. They beat the people so viciously and brutally it was a terrible and shocking spectacle to witness."

The arrested were loaded onto trucks and conveyed, some to Harare Central and others to the notorious Matapi Police Station. The latter facility has been condemned by the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe as being totally unfit for human habitation. A police officer at Matapi allegedly informed the arrested ZCTU leaders on arrival: "We are not trained to write dockets; we are trained to kill".

It is alleged the arrested were "then taken two at a time into a room and brutally beaten by five men with knobkerries and long baton sticks for up to 20 minutes."

In both stations the prisoners were:

Denied access to legal practitioners

Subjected to brutal and savage torture and beating in Matapi Police Station

Denied access to relatives

Not supplied with food or water

Not supplied with blankets

Mostly kept in darkness.

Subjected to extremely abusive language

Forced to make do with toilets that were overflowing with human excreta.

The older among them must have been reminded of the fate of political detainees during Ian Smith's Rhodesia. Late that night the Matapi contingent was moved to Harare Central.

"It was a pitiful sight to see those 14 physically and mentally battered and brutalised figures appearing," says the MDC member. "Three could hardly walk or stand."...

Inflation now 4000 %

INFLATION will reach 4 279 percent in Zimbabwe next year, a senior International Monetary Fund official has forecast.

This is significantly higher than Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono's hopes for inflation to slow to 50 percent in 2007 and below 10 percent by 2008.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

China and India invest in Africa

Many of the small businesses in Africa are run by outsiders...Lebanese, Indian, Pakistanis...

In South Africa, the Indian community has a long history (Gandhi started there, you know).

In East Asia, china runs most of the businesses.

The question is if these countries will increase their influences, or if merely it will be a business relationship

This is what happens when you defy Zim Government

THE beating stopped as the sun began to go down. After two-and-a-half hours, the fourteen men and one woman held at Matapi police station in Mbare township, Harare, had suffered five fractured arms, seven hand fractures, two sets of ruptured eardrums, fifteen cases of severe buttock injuries, deep soft-tissue bruising all over, and open lacerations.

The 15 included Wellington Chibebe, the leader of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), and senior officials of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

“As a case of police brutality on a group, it is the worst I’ve ever seen,” a doctor who helped to attend to them said.

President Mugabe’s security agencies are notorious for violent assault, but this was the first time that the top strata of the Opposition had been subjected to severe physical attack.

Some of the victims spoke for the first time yesterday about the assaults that took place after police broke up an attempted protest by the trade unions against the Government’s ruinous handling of the economy.

The savagery of the attacks is seen as indicating the jitteriness in the Government over its hold on power amid the desperate poverty into which President Mugabe has sunk Zimbabweans. “It was carried out as a deliberate, premeditated warning, from the highest level, to anyone else who tries mass protest, that this is what will happen to them,” a Western diplomatic source said....

"Let Mugabe stay in power"

Maputo - Forcing President Robert Mugabe out of power could compound Zimbabwe's political crisis and even lead to civil war, said Mozambique's respected former president Joaquim Chissano on Monday.

In an interview with Reuters, Chissano took issue with what he called a Western obsession with term limits for Africa's presidents, and was critical of calls to force Mugabe's departure after 26 years at the helm.

"If Mugabe steps down, what will happen then?" asked Chissano, whose country has historic ties with neighbouring Zimbabwe, forged during their wars against white rule.

"What is happening now is bad, but it could be worse - a big situation of violence could lead to internal war," he said....

He should know, since the result of his "war against white rule" lead to a communist dictatorship, civil war, economic collapse, and the deaths of a million people in famine from all of the above...

In democracy, the reason we have term limits is to assure peaceful transition of government.

The president knows he or she will leave, and so has no reason to kill opponants (who also know they have a chance to take over in the next election, so why bother to resort to violence?) In Parliementary systems, the parties, not the prime minister, are the ones who give this stability. (In the Philippines, there is a move to a parliementary system, which is bad since the parties are unstable...will probably lead to the "government of the week" such as Italy had in the 1950's, but since the parliement was stable, and opponants knew they had a chance without violence, the result was less political violence).

But who succeeds a dictator? Indeed, anyone who tries to get and use power, or builds a popular base, is seen as a threat...Dictators see anyone opposing them as a danger to their rule, and kill or exile them. As a result, anyone who might become a decent leader is removed, leaving "yes men" and liars in place.

This was the problem with kings.

If a good king died and left a good son in place, no problem.

If a king allowed the prime minister to do all the work, and merely chose those who did the best job, and when he died, his son did the same, it worked. Or if a king essentially co ruled with a strong Parliement, as in the UK, the Parliement gave stability to the government.

But, as history shows, civil wars often resulted after the death of a strong king who ruled without restraint of custom or parliement...

When all the power is vested in the King or dictator, what happens when a Strong kings is followed by a weak son, or a strong king gets old? He might be replaced by ambitious sons (King David and Absolom) or by wives (Czarina Catherine the Great) or the king might end up killing rivals, be they relatives or sons (Again, King David killing Sauls' family, or Ivan the Terrible killing his son).

THAT is the real problem of dictatorial goverments, be they kings or dictators: who will replace an aging dictator? Since dictatorship is not hereditary, (although in North Korea and Syria weaker sons did take over) who takes over?

In communist Russia and China, there were institutions that essentially allowed power to be transferred without civil war. Would the army do so in Zimbabwe?

Because without an institutional way to replace Mugabe, the result of his "dictatorship" for life is worse than civil war.

It will be anarchy as numerous groups vie for power without restraint against a population that has no tradition of self defense.

Monday, September 18, 2006

PDF report on Zim by Freedom house

an excerpt: Zimbabwe

GNI/capita: $490
Life Expectancy: 41
Religious Groups: Syncretic [part Christian, part indigenous beliefs] (50 percent), Christian (25
percent), indigenous beliefs (24 percent), other [including Muslim] (1 percent)
Ethnic Groups: Shona (82 percent), Ndebele (14 percent), other (4 percent)
Capital: Harare

Political Rights: 7
Civil Liberties: 6

Trend Arrow:
Zimbabwe received a downward trend arrow due to increased violations of
democratic norms and human rights offenses.

Ratings Timeline (Political Rights, Civil Liberties, Status)
Year Under Review 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
5,5,PF 5,5,PF 5,5,PF 6,5,PF 6,5,PF 6,6,NF 6,6,NF 6,6,NF 7,6,NF 7,6,NF

Zimbabwe's descent into the ranks of the world's most repressive states continued
unabated in 2005, the result of a significant decline in both political rights and civil liberties for
Zimbabweans. The government of long-time president Robert Mugabe persisted in cracking down
on independent media, civil society, and political opponents. Mugabe's ruling Zimbabwe African
National Union­Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) won an overwhelming victory in a deeply flawed
parliamentary election held in March, allowing the passage of a heavy-handed Constitutional
Amendment Bill in September. Beginning in May 2005, the government ordered the destruction of
tens of thousands of shanty dwellings and street stalls in urban townships across the country. The
implementation of this policy--labeled Operation Murambatsvina--left an estimated 700,000
people homeless, deprived of their livelihood, or both, and adversely affected some 2.4 million
additional people. Low voter turnout and a severely fractured opposition marked elections to a new
Senate in November; ZANU-PF virtually swept the elections, fortifying its control of the already
pliant legislature. The country's economic crisis worsened, with rampant inflation, massive
unemployment, near expulsion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and potentially
severe shortages of basic foodstuffs.

In November 2005, the UN World Food Program warned that more than 4 million of the
country's 12 million people require emergency food aid; Zimbabwe--once one of Africa's major
sources of agricultural exports--began a massive program to import 1.8 million tons of maize in
July of that year. While the government has historically blamed food shortages on droughts,
Deputy Agricultural Minister Sylvester Nguni told a November meeting of the Zimbabwe
Farmers' Union that distributing seized land to incompetent farmers was also to blame. Party
officials have manipulated the dispersal of food aid, withholding relief from suspected
opposition supporters. Fears of food shortages have led many urban dwellers to ignore a
government prohibition on growing crops in urban areas. Severe shortages of drugs and
equipment have pushed hospitals and clinics close to ruin. Infant mortality rates have risen, and
the resource-starved health system cannot cope with an HIV epidemic--one of the worst in the
world--that has infected one in four adults.
Political Rights and Civil Liberties:
Citizens of Zimbabwe cannot change their government democratically. Recent
presidential and legislative elections have been marred by political violence and intimidation
(perpetrated by both security forces and ZANU-PF youth militias), a discriminatory electoral
framework, biased media coverage, and the unscrupulous use of state resources. President Robert
Mugabe and ZANU-PF have dominated the political landscape since independence. Since 1980,
at least 16 amendments to the constitution--including the elimination of the post of prime
minister in favor of an executive president--have expanded executive power. Mugabe has on
several occasions invoked the Presidential Powers Act, which enables him to bypass normal
governmental review and oversight procedures. Presidential elections are held every six years.
Until recently, Zimbabwe had a unicameral legislature. In September 2005, an upper
house Senate--previously disbanded via a 1987 constitutional amendment--was created by yet
another such amendment and consists of 50 directly elected seats, 6 presidential appointees, and
10 traditional chiefs. The lower House of Assembly includes 120 elected seats and 30 seats filled
by Mugabe appointees; elections are held every five years. ZANU-PF loyalists make up 72
percent of the House of Assembly and over 89 percent of the Senate.
The rise of the MDC had until recently represented a significant oppositionist force in
Zimbabwe. However, the party's electoral defeat in March was followed by a major internal
crisis, catalyzed by a debate over whether the MDC should contest elections for the newly
created Senate in November. Defying party leader Morgan Tsvangirai's call for a boycott, 26
MDC members registered as candidates; the crisis was marked by serious discord among the
party's leadership and the expulsion of the 26 dissident members from the party. As a result, the
MDC no longer poses a serious threat to ZANU-PF's hold on power.
Corruption is rampant throughout the country, including at the highest levels of
government. A profound lack of transparency in government tenders and other operations has
allowed corruption to thrive. Patronage is crucial to ZANU-PF's grip on power, and the party
owns a wide-range of businesses that profit party elites; ruling party and government officials
have been allocated many of the properties seized from white farmers. Anticorruption
prosecutions are almost exclusively motivated by political vendettas. Reports of extensive
corruption and nepotism have contributed to the stark decline in public and investor confidence
in Zimbabwe's economy. Zimbabwe was ranked 107 out of 159 countries surveyed in
Transparency International's 2005 Corruption Perceptions Index.
Freedom of expression and of the press deteriorated still further in 2005. Zimbabwe's
already draconian legal framework was worsened by the enactment in January of an amendment
to the 2002 Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and a new Criminal
Law (Codification and Reform) Bill in June. Whereas the original AIPPA required all journalists
and media companies to register with the government-controlled Media and Information
Commission (MIC) and gave the information minister sweeping powers to decide who can work
as a journalist, the amended version introduced prison sentences of up to two years for journalists
working without accreditation. The Daily News--the country's only independent daily shuttered
in 2003 for not adhering to the AIPPA--continued to be denied a license by the MIC in 2005.
Constitutional challenges to the AIPPA by the affiliates of the Daily News have proven
unsuccessful; the Supreme Court upheld the law for the second time in March. However, a
Harare magistrate acquitted former Daily News journalist Kelvin Jakachira of working without
accreditation; at least eight of his colleagues are facing similar charges.
The MIC ordered the closure of the independent Weekly Times in March for violating the
AIPPA after only eight weeks of publication, and denied Africa Tribune Newspapers--
publishers of the previously shuttered weekly Tribune (2004)--a license to resume publication in
July. Authorities use a range of restrictive legislation--including the Official Secrets Act, the
AIPPA, and the Public Order and Security Act (POSA)--to harass journalists. Section 15 of
POSA and Section 80 of AIPPA criminalize the publication of "inaccurate" information, and
both laws have been used to intimidate, arrest, and prosecute journalists. The new Criminal Law
(Codification and Reform) Bill increases prison sentences for similar violations to a maximum of
20 years.
The government dominates the print and broadcast media; coverage in state-controlled
dailies such as The Chronicle and The Herald consists of favorable portrayals of Mugabe and the
ruling ZANU-PF party and attacks on government critics. The state-controlled Zimbabwe
Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) runs all broadcast media, which are seen as mouthpieces of the
regime, and the prohibitive costs of satellite services that provide international news
programming place them out of reach for most Zimbabweans. While the MDC was granted
relatively greater access to these media in the run-up to the March 2005 elections, that month the
government--using Chinese technology--began jamming the shortwave signal of the London-
based oppositionist radio station SW Radio Africa, forcing it to switch frequencies. A similar
fate befell the independent radio station Voice of the People in September.
Journalists are routinely subjected to verbal intimidation, physical attacks, arrest and
detention, and financial pressure at the hands of the police, authorities, and supporters of the
ruling party. Foreign journalists are regularly denied visas to file stories from Zimbabwe, and
local correspondents for foreign publications, particularly those whose reporting has portrayed
the regime in an unfavorable light, have been refused accreditation or threatened with lawsuits
and deportation. In February, three such correspondents--Angus Shaw, Brian Latham, and Jan
Raath--fled the country after extensive harassment by authorities, while another, Cornelius
Nduna, was forced into hiding and hunted by the Central Intelligence Organization (CIO) for
possessing video footage of paramilitary activities at youth training camps. Internet access is
relatively free, although the government does monitor e-mail content.
Freedom of religion is generally respected, but academic freedom is limited. Security
forces and ruling party thugs harass dissident university students, who have been arrested or
expelled from school for protesting against government policy. In 2004, the president of the
Zimbabwe National Students Union, Philani Zamchiya, claimed to have been kidnapped and
assaulted by police. The Constitutional Amendment Bill passed in September 2005 brings all
schools under state control.
The nongovernmental sector is small but active; however, NGOs--particularly those
dealing with human rights issues--have faced increasing legal restrictions and extralegal
harassment. As a result, mass action campaigns organized by the MDC after the March 2005
elections and by the umbrella National Constituent Assembly and the MDC following Operation
Murambatsvina failed to gain much traction. Public demonstrations and protests are severely
restricted under the 2002 POSA, which requires police notification--in practice, police
permission--to hold public meetings and demonstrations. Such meetings are often deemed
illegal and broken up, subjecting participants to arbitrary arrest by security forces (including
intelligence officers) and attacks perpetrated by ZANU-PF militias. POSA also allows police to
impose arbitrary curfews and forbids criticism of the president.
In 2005, security forces continued to disrupt demonstrations by the Women of Zimbabwe
Arise (WOZA) group and arrest demonstrators; in two years of protests, some 500 WOZA
activists have been detained for violating the POSA. The Private Voluntary Organizations (PVO)
Act, originally introduced by the Rhodesian government and revived in 2002, sets out restrictive
registration and funding requirements for NGOs. In December 2004, the parliament passed the
Non-Governmental Organizations Act. The NGO Act retains the PVO Act's more repressive
provisions while increasing scrutiny of groups that "promote and protect human rights" and
explicitly prohibiting these groups from receiving foreign funding. Following the model of the
MIC, the act also establishes an NGO Council with which organizations must register or risk
criminal charges. While Mugabe has yet to sign the legislation, in 2005 the government
threatened several NGOs with sanctions if they did not account for $88 million in donor funds
received in 2004.
The right to collective action is limited under the Labor Relations Act, which allows the
government to veto collective bargaining agreements that it deems harmful to the economy.
Strikes are allowed except for industries declared "essential" under the act. Because the labor
movement provides the most organized resistance to Mugabe's authoritarian rule, it has become
a particular target for repression. Mugabe has used his presidential powers to declare strikes
illegal, and labor organizers are common targets of government harassment. In 2003, security
forces arrested more than 400 people in response to a two-day general strike; many were beaten
or tortured while in police custody. In November 2005, the leadership of the Zimbabwe Congress
of Trade Unions (ZCTU)--among at least 80 union activists--was detained by security forces in
Harare and Bulawayo for violating the POSA. The government has created a rival trade union
umbrella organization, the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions, to try to undermine the
While some courts have struck down or disputed government actions, increasing pressure
by the regime has substantially eroded the judiciary's capacity to act independently. The accused
are often denied access to counsel and a fair, timely trial. However, several journalists have
recently been acquitted of criminal charges by magistrates, as have several MDC activists. MDC
leader Morgan Tsvangirai was acquitted of treason charges in December 2004 by the high court,
and another set of treason charges was dropped in August 2005. Nonetheless, the government
has repeatedly refused to enforce court orders and has replaced senior judges or pressured them
to resign--including former Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay--by stating it could not guarantee
their security. The judicial system has been burdened by the vacancy of nearly 60 magistrate
posts, which has caused a backlog of some 60,000 cases that require processing. In October, the
head of the magistrates' association, Enias Magate, stated that judges' low pay was exacerbating
already substantial judicial corruption.
In general, security and military forces are accountable to the government but not to
civilians. Security forces often ignore basic rights regarding detention, search, and seizure. The
government has taken no clear action to halt the rising incidence of torture and mistreatment of
suspects held by police or security services. War veterans and ZANU-PF militants operate as de
facto enforcers of government policies--including land redistribution--and have committed a
litany of human rights abuses, such as assault, torture, rape, extralegal evictions, and extralegal
executions, within an environment of almost total impunity. The military has assumed increased
roles in food distribution and "securing" elections. In June 2004, the government passed the
Criminal Procedure and Evidence Amendment Act, which allows police to hold suspects accused
of economic crimes for up to four weeks without bail; human rights activists contend this act
contravenes the constitutional right to the presumption of innocence.
Prison conditions are harsh and life threatening. The country's 47 prisons house about
22,000 inmates, 6,000 above the nominal 16,000-person capacity. Such overcrowding has
contributed to a rise in HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis infections and to food shortages. Deaths in
prisons are often caused by disease, poor sanitation, or beatings by guards. Women and juveniles
are housed separately from men, and pretrial detainees are generally held in separate, common
The state has extensive control over travel and residence, and property rights are not
respected in Zimbabwe. Operation Murambatsvina saw the eviction of hundreds of thousands of
urban dwellers from their homes and the destruction of thousands of homes and businesses,
many of which had been approved by the government. Fewer than 500 white-owned farms
remain out of the 4,500 that existed when the land invasions started in 2000; any avenues of legal
recourse for expelled farmers were closed with the enactment of the Constitutional Amendment
Bill in September. The same bill formalized travel restrictions for regime opponents. Foreign
critics are routinely expelled or prevented from entering the country.
The ruling party, which is dominated by the Shona majority ethnic group, continues to
encourage political and economic discrimination against the minority Ndebele people. A clash
between the two ethnic groups in the 1980s culminated in the government's massacre of
thousands of Ndebele. Today, the Ndebele tend to be marginalized politically, and their region
(Matabeleland, which is an opposition stronghold) lags behind in economic development.
According to the U.S. State Department 2005 Human Rights Report, the disproportionate
number of Shona-speaking educators in Matabeleland schools is a sensitive issue. In addition,
restrictive citizenship laws discriminate against Zimbabweans whose origins are in neighboring
African countries. Despite government efforts to the contrary--including explicitly racist
justifications for land seizures--relations between the remaining white minority and the black
majority are relatively peaceful.
Women enjoy extensive legal protections, but de facto societal discrimination and
domestic violence persist. Women serve as ministers in national and local governments, and hold
seats in parliament; Joyce Mujuru is vice president of Zimbabwe and a possible successor to
Mugabe. ZANU-PF youth militias use rape as a political weapon. The prevalence of customary
laws in rural areas undermines women's rights and access to education. Traditional practices
such as polygamy and lobola--the negotiated price a groom must pay to marry a bride--remain
legal, and there were reports of girls being offered as settlements in interfamily disputes. The
Supreme Court declared that women who marry under customary law must leave their original
families and therefore cannot inherit their property, and married women cannot hold property
jointly with their husbands. A December 2004 report from UNICEF noted the lacuna between
the litany of laws relating to women's and children's rights and the weak implementation of
those laws. Homosexuality--decried as un-African by Mugabe--is illegal in Zimbabwe.

Zim one of most repressive regiemes in the world


The report, which is intended to assist the new Human Rights Council, as well as members of Congress, journalists and other policymakers, includes detailed descriptions of the dire human rights situations in eight countries judged to have the worst records in the past year. These countries are Burma, Cuba, Libya, North Korea, Sudan, Syria, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Also included are two territories, Chechnya and Tibet, whose inhabitants suffer intense repression.

In addition, The Worst of the Worst includes nine other countries near the bottom of Freedom House's list of the most repressive: Belarus, China, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Haiti, Laos, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, and Zimbabwe. The territory of Western Sahara is also included in this group. While these states scored slightly better than the "worst of the worst," they offer very limited scope for political discussion and activity.

The report is available online.

"This report should be viewed as the minimal 'to do' list to be addressed by members of the UN Human Rights Council and those governments that profess to care about human rights," Jennifer Windsor, Executive Director of Freedom House

Kubatana reports on European Parliement's statement on Zim

African brain drain

Too many medical personnel from the third world migrate overseas to better paying jobs.

Of course, they could do like we do in the Philippines: Advertise Nursing schools by pointing out you can go overseas and earn money if you attend their the end result is money pouring into local economies by people sending their pay back to the Philippines...and this money pays school fees for siblings etc that enriches everyone.

Since it's too hard for many docs to pass the ECFMG to work as a doctor in the states, many Filipino docs take a nursing course and work as a nurse there...a nurse in the USA gets better pay than a doctor here or in Saudi...and in addition, if you get a green card, you can later send back money and import half your family to the USA like my husband did...

In Saudi, you will never be more than an outsider with few rights...

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Traditional Kings of Africa


Not all bigshots are politicians...some traditional African Kings still rule and have power...

Saturday, September 16, 2006

WHO backs DDT use to stop malaria

The World Health Organization (WHO) has reversed a 30-year policy by endorsing the use of DDT for malaria control.

The chemical is sprayed inside houses to kill malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

DDT has been banned globally for every use except fighting disease because of its environmental impacts and fears for human health.

WHO says there is no health risk, and DDT should rank with bednets and drugs as a tool for combating malaria, which kills more than one million each year...

Zim union chief in hospital

..Lawyer Alec Muchadehama, representing the unionists, said that 12 people were now in hospital having been badly beaten while in police custody.

Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said they were aware of the allegations and investigations were underway.

He added that "excessive" attitudes within the force were not condoned.

At least 50 people were arrested on Wednesday while trying to stage demonstrations to protest against the government's handling of Zimbabwe's economic crisis.

The government had said the protests were banned....

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Drug resistant TB outbreak in Joburg

Very bad news...

TB was once called "The White Plague"...and is highly fatal for those undernourished or who have HIV.

Zim deports SA factfinders

The group included: the national secretary of the Young Communists League, Buti Manamela; Nduluza Gceba of the South African Youth Council; North West secretary of the South African Students' Congress, Mothusi Tsineng; Congress of South African Students president Kenny Motshegoa; Tsholofelo Nakedi of the South African Non-Governmental Organisations' Coalition; Lucian Segami of the Zimbabwe Solidarity Forum; secretary general of the Young Christian Students Bheki Mcetywa; and Thoko Ntone of the Students Union for Christian Action.

"The main thrust of the visit was to familiarise the Progressive Youth Alliance with various interpretations of the current socio-economic and political situations in Zimbabwe, meet with the government, the ruling Zanu-PF, civil society and the opposition to gain a wide understanding of the present political situation in Zimbabwe," read the statement.

The Young Communist League said in a statement that nothing warranted the Zimbabwean government to "take this irrational decision because the delegation was not a threat to the Zimbabwean government and its people.

"It was a visit informed by getting a deeper understanding and appreciation of the different interpretations of the socio-economic crisis in the country."

The ZSF added: "This deportation comes against a backdrop in which students and youth of Zimbabwe have been severely affected by the wave of displacements associated with Operation Murambatsvina.

"This visit was an attempt to gain first-hand insights into the impact these events have had on youth and students." -- Sapa

China, others prop up Zim with loans

China loans money to Zim...

Since China never does anything out of the goodness of their heart, it makes one wonder what's behind this?


Zim crushes nationwide protests

HARARE, 13 September (IRIN) - Police foiled a nationwide anti-government protest by the country's largest labour federation when they arrested union, civic society and opposition party leaders, among others.

A Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) spokesman in the capital, Harare, told IRIN that at least 500 people were taken into custody after protests were staged in 34 urban centres nationwide, including the capital and the second city, Bulawayo.

"We hear most of our leadership, including [secretary-general] Wellington Chibhebhe and [president] Lovemore Matombo have been arrested, together with others," said ZCTU regional spokesperson Percy Mcijo.

The authorities had warned the demonstrations were declared illegal and would be stopped. About 2,000 uniformed and plainclothes police were deployed on the capital's streets. An IRIN correspondent witnessed armed police severely beating demonstrators with batons after they had been ordered to sit down in the road at the starting point of the Harare protest.

Among other leaders arrested were Lucia Matibenga, a ZCTU vice-president and women's affairs chairperson of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, prominent MDC members Grace Kwinje and Ian Makoni, and the leader of the teachers' union, Raymond Majongwe. Mike Suburi, a correspondent with the Reuters news service, was also detained...

There were no reports of any fatalities during the protests.

ZCTU's demands include a living wage for workers, access to antiretroviral (ARV) treatment for HIV-positive people, and that police immediately stop the "harassment of informal economy workers".

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Traditional healers now can authorize days off

GOVERNMENT has given traditional healers permission to give their patients off days from work in the same manner that medical doctors do.

The Deputy Minister of Health and Child Welfare Dr Edwin Muguti made the announcement in Harare last week during the commemoration of the Fourth African Traditional Medicine Day, but made it clear that the off days should not exceed a week.

He stipulated that only traditional medical practitioners registered with the Traditional Medical Practitioners Council would be able to give patients off days.

At least 1 500 traditional medical practitioners have been registered with the council so far.

Dr Muguti said a sick person also had a right to ask their medical doctor to give them time to seek the assistance of a traditional medical practitioner if there was no improvement in their condition.

"It has become obvious that conventional medicines are not the "be all" of medicine for if they were, why else would we still have HIV, BP, asthma, all of which have no cure.

"It is important that we encourage our traditional medical practitioners and conventional doctors to work together for the benefit of our people.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Eradicating Malaria in Africa

Senator Tom Coburn writes to the World band complaining of wasted funds and funding lousy medicine to combat Malaria. Coburn is a doc from Oklahoma...
PDF here
He quoted from the Lancet article that said the same thing PDF HERE

Hearing on Malaria HERE
The Subcommittee's hearing on USAID's malaria assistance in May 2005 led to the discovery that less than 8 percent of the USAID malaria budget went toward life-saving commodities. USAID’s approach had been talking about the malaria problem—not investing in results.

Since that hearing the President proposed a $1.2 billion commodity-based initiative to cut malaria mortality in focus countries by half. USAID recently announced radical program reforms to save lives which includes indoor residual spraying with DDT. Rich, western nations, as well as many others, which used to be endemic for malaria eliminated their malaria problems decades ago by spraying DDT indoors to kill mosquitos and prevent malaria infection. Africans in developing countries deserve to use the same solution. Unfortunately, after solving their *own* malaria problems with DDT, these same nations came together at the Stockholm convention in 2000 and banned the use of DDT worldwide. Fortunately, Secretary of State Colin Powell insisted on a public health exemption to this ban, allowing poor countries to use DDT to eradicate malaria. But the stigma of the convention meant that DDT use was discouraged and defunded by rich donor nations when the poor countries asked for funding to use it. Thanks to Republicans in Congress and President Bush, this is beginning to change.

The reforms announced last year by President Bush and USAID mean that malaria money will now go directly to those who are suffering or are most at risk, and not primarily to American and European advice-givers as has been the case for too many years. USAID reported at the hearing that a public web site with detailed funding and progress/outcomes information will go live soon.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Zanu PF steals RedCross ambulances

WITH the take over of the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society complete, Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu PF party has already started looting the organisation’s donated vehicles and assigned them to Mashonaland Central province where they are being used in politicalo campaigns for the up coming council elections, New can reveal.

Two vehicles, a Nissan Hardbody registration number 774-502 Z and a Toyota truck, registration number 565-463 H, have been withdrawn from regular Red Cross activities and assigned to Zanu PF officials.

The cars have been placed in the custody of a provincial Zanu PF official identified as Nyangani, who is also a businessman in Bindura.

The vehicles were recently handed over by Edmore Shamhu, the Red Cross president, and now form part of the fleet of Zanu PF vehicles in Mashonaland Central.

Three Suzuki motorbikes, also donated to Red Cross, have also been deployed to Mashonaland Central, Shamhu’s home area, where he has been promised a parliamentary seat for delivering the Red Cross to Zanu PF.

The registration numbers for the motorbikes are 608-683, 608-683 and 533-590.

The vehicles were part of a donation from one of the organisation’s international donors to develop water and sanitation facilities in rural areas. The Red Cross is mainly funded by the European Union, Denmark and the United Kingdom.

New revealed last week how Zanu PF had covertly muscled into the Red Cross, seizing control of one of the major international aid organisations seen as likely to play a central role in delivering food aid in coming months as the country graples with a severe food deficit.

The Red Cross is currently leading aid efforts at helping Aids orphans and people made destitute by a government blitz on unplanned dwellings which the United Nations says left 700 000 homeless.....

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Zim police are not acting on their own

Zimbabwe businessman John Bredenkamp’s short trial in Harare last week for the “crime” of having a second passport revealed a telling level of co operation between South African and Zimbabwe police.

South African Police
South African police are aiding their Zimbabwean counterparts

South African-born Bredenkamp, who is a naturalised Zimbabwe citizen, and lives in Zimbabwe, was accused by the state-controlled press in Harare of several financial crimes. He was overseas at the time, but returned home six weeks later to face the music.

The music came in the form of a pre dawn raid on his farm outside Harare late July and he was detained in the squalor of Zimbabwe’s police cells for four days.

His Harare offices were raided and many files and hard drives confiscated. Detectives could find nothing but proceeded against him anyway, and charged him with the minor offence of having a second passport.

He admitted during the 4 am raid that yes, he did have a South African passport, but that it was in South Africa.

He had renounced his South African citizenship as required by a new citizenship law enacted ahead of presidential elections in 2002.
The South Africans allowed him to keep and use his South African passport.

He used his Zimbabwe passport into and out of Zimbabwe.

If found guilty (and some are betting the state has no case as it can’t force its laws outside Zimbabwe) he stands to pay maximum penalty of a few pence or alternatively a maximum sentence of two years.

The South Africans provided the substantial evidence against him. They confirmed he had a valid South African passport. They also provided a list of the 65 times he had entered or left South Africa using his South African passport.

Crucially, it is not a crime in South Africa to hold two passports, and yet officials there were prepared to provide this detailed “evidence” to Zimbabwe.

Churches hire security firms

in a significant about-turn from this established religious ethos, churches have of late become a strong clientele for most security companies as they are now investing more to counter criminals whose activities know no bounds.

In the wake of a series of thefts and break-ins that rocked most church premises in recent years, church authorities and congregations have now resorted to engaging established security firms to protect their places of worship.

While society has regarded church buildings as sacred, consecrated and open to all seeking salvation, elements with a criminal streak have lately capitalised on this to carry out their nefarious activities without arousing suspicion and the least likelihood of detection.

In the past, members of the congregation would only go to their churches for services as most of them did not have any valuable assets on the premises.

With modernisation, most churches are now technologically advanced and now possess valuable assets and accessories such as computers, printers, laptops, Internet facilities, music instruments and even vehicles.

However, those with criminal minds observed that churches were lax on security matters.

This resulted in an upsurge of theft and break-ins at most churches, some of them involving thieves masquerading as worshippers.

Even personal items like handbags and cellphones have disappeared while genuine worshippers are closing their eyes in deep prayer. Cars parked in churchyards have not been spared either...

The Trouble with Mugabe's Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe today is a living hell for all and sundry. If you are in hell, there is no amount of convenience that can make you comfortable. Hell is by definition inconvenient. Period, writes Jonathan Moyo

In Zimbabwe, August is a sacred month in which the heroes of the armed liberation struggle that led to independence in 1980 are commemorated and their achievements celebrated. This year there was a twist to the usual pomp and circumstance when the memory of the many heroes had to give way to a megabucks publicity blitz on the three zeroes which the country's Central Bank, led by its ubiquitous Governor Gideon Gono, removed from the greatly devalued national currency amid anger, controversy and confusion which turned otherwise conservative money matters into a deadly battle ground in President Robert Mugabe's increasingly bitter succession war...

Poverty in Zimbabwe is above 85 percent, unemployment hovers around 90 percent, the informal sector was destroyed by Mugabe's Zanu PF government last year to the detriment of at least 18 percent of the population, inflation is just under 1,000 percent, interest rates are in the upwards of 400 percent, foreign exchange coffers are virtually dry because of a sharp decline in exports due to company closures, low production levels and the collapse of agriculture since the land invasions of 2000.

Zimbabwe not working

Because of these and related factors, the Zimbabwean economy has shrunk by more than 35 percent over the last seven years. In a nutshell, Zimbabwe is simply not working....

Friday, September 01, 2006

They say I ate my father

A report on exorcisms of stepchildren accused of witchcraft in the Congo.
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