Monday, February 26, 2007

China in Africa

It's late and I don't have time to read it, but place the link here because it's something I have posted about before.

Protests banned in Zim for three months

Police have imposed a three-month ban on political rallies and protests in parts of Zimbabwe's capital to try to calm tensions, after recent violence.


In the rambling hour-long television interview, Mr Mugabe also criticised colleagues who have been debating when he will retire and who should replace him....

Mr Mugabe retains an iron grip after nearly 27 years in power. His supporters are preparing a large party in the central city of Gweru at the weekend to mark his birthday and have sought donations from the population.

But critics say this is a huge waste of money, when so much of the population is impoverished.

On Sunday, police used tear-gas and water cannon to prevent an opposition rally from going ahead in the Highfield township in the capital, Harare, despite a ruling by the High Court that it should be allowed....

Sunday, February 25, 2007

South African companies in China

Sending coals to Newcastle is the phrase used for stuff like this...

....Beijing's largest daily newspaper is part-owned by a South African company. China's largest brewer is operated and part-owned by SABMiller, formerly South African Breweries. And two coal-to-liquid-fuel plants under consideration by South Africa's Sasol would, if built, make the energy giant the single-largest foreign investor in China, analysts say.

Mining and financial services companies are also moving to China, eager to gain a foothold in a market far larger than South Africa, which has 46 million people. China's population tops 1.3 billion.

"South Africans are actually trailblazers in China," said Martyn Davies, director of the Center for Chinese Studies at Stellenbosch University, speaking from Cape Town. "These investments are big, and they're building."

Davies estimated the total of South African investment in China (including SABMiller, which maintains stock market listings in London and Johannesburg) at nearly $2 billion, and that number could grow several times over if either of the two Sasol projects goes forward, at price tags the company now estimates at $5 billion to $6 billion each.

These totals far exceed the investment by Chinese companies in South Africa, where established firms have resisted major inroads even as they have become dominant players in other, less developed countries across the continent.....

The day Hatfield turned into "little Baghdad"


This is Highfield, a working class suburb of Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, where President Robert Mugabe's security forces on Sunday brought down their might to prevent the opposition Movement for democratic Change (MDC) party from holding a rally that the High Court had approved but which police said should not go ahead because it could turn violent.

It all started as a somewhat harmless case of overzealousness on the part of the police....

The police, who have in the past used tough state security laws to ban opposition meetings, said they could not sanction the rally because they had no manpower and moreover, the MDC had a propensity for violence.

The MDC filed an urgent petition at the High Court, which was granted. High Court Judge Anne-Marie Gowora, ruled that the opposition party could hold the rally and specifically ordered the police not to interfere with the meeting.

But the drama took another twist. On Sunday morning, MDC supporters turned up at Zimbabwe Grounds to find all entrances sealed, with armed police officers shooing everybody away. ....

"This is something else. It is actually frightening when an entire police force which says it respects human rights fails to comply with a court order," Majome told ZimOnline at Machipisa police station where she had gone to seek an explanation from senior police officers.

Three hours later, Majome was still at Machipisa police station trying to locate the officer commanding Harare south, Washington Jangara, to order the officers to leave the venue. Jangara was never to be seen, having made his last public appearance at the High Court on Saturday afternoon when the police were ordered not to stop the opposition rally. ..

Sensing danger, the police quickly moved to pre-empt the situation. First they ordered the crowd to disperse, but before people could clear way the police swung into action, firing teargas canisters at a small group of MDC supporters outside Zimbabwe Grounds. The tension that had simmered since the early hours of the morning erupted into open confrontation.

The crowd, apparently caught unawares, scattered away in different directions as more truckloads of police officers armed with guns, truncheons and tear smoke poured into Highfield.

For a while, the police appeared to be on top of the situation but then the fleeing MDC supporters regrouped, chanting slogans as they came back on the police, throwing stones and whatever else one could get at their tormentors. The brave ones would pick the tear smoke canisters and throw them right back into the police trucks.

But the police were not going to lose this one. As if from nowhere, 11 Israeli-manufactured police water cannons rolled into the sprawling suburb and indiscriminately started firing teargas into people's homes, at small crowds, into the streets and at anything on two legs. It was chaos everywhere!

Meanwhile, MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai and his entourage of senior officials arrived at the venue and tried to reason with the police officers but they refused to budge. He drove to Southerton police station just outside Highfield hoping to talk to senior police officers there but they locked their offices when he arrived.

When Tsvangirai came back to the rally venue, a crowd of about 1 000 supporters swarmed around him....

Tsvangirai climbed into the back of his Isuzu truck and made a short and solemn speech.

"They have refused to allow us to enter the venue even though we have a court order. Zimbabwe will never be the same again. The struggle continues and we should not rest until we achieve our vision of a new Zimbabwe," he said.

He immediately drove off.

But the fighting and chaos continued in Highfield as police and MDC youths fought running battles. Soon it became a free-for-all with marauding gangs looting shops, others simply took clothes and shoes left by fleeing street side vendors, while others attacked any uniformed officer seen on the streets.

The chaos, which had started around 10 o’clock in the morning, went on until well after midnight, with the police patrolling the streets, firing into the air and ordering everyone to go back indoors. At least if you failed to listen, the teargas made sure you complied. "

Saturday, February 24, 2007

And then there were floods

The authorities in Zimbabwe have issued a flood warning after a tropical cyclone caused widespread damage in central Mozambique.

Weather experts say heavy rains and strong winds are expected in low lying areas in eastern Zimbabwe.,...

Mozambique is still struggling after floods left an estimated 120,000 people homeless earlier this month....

Signs of endgame for Mugabe

IHT says signs are there that people are getting tired of Mugabe...

What they ignore is the MaShona culture, that stresses cooperation and endurance of oppression/poverty etc without complaint. My fear is that "even a small snake has a tooth", and that when the outburst comes, it will be terrible, like a flood held back by a dam, that causes destruction when the dam breaks.

"....Opposition supporters wanted to protest the high cost of living and Mugabe's plan to extend his term of office to 2010.

A rate of hyperinflation — running at near 1,600 percent — that economists say soon will be represented by an upright line on a graph has the country in revolt. The number of Zimbabwe dollars that bought a three-bedroom house with a swimming pool and tennis court in 1990 today will buy one sole brick.

A lifetime public worker's monthly pension can't buy a loaf of bread. Charities have reported depression, suicide and malnutrition among retirees — including a type of vitamin deficiency affecting gums, bones and hair loss.

Doctors and nurses have been on strike since December and the rest of the civil service is threatening to join them.

The list of deserters on the walls of army barracks grows ever longer despite a 300 percent pay raise in January. The military want a 1,000 percent increase. The police chief in the capital, Harare, has said in a confidential memo that he fears his constables will riot.

A hairdresser paid the minimum monthly wage of $30,000 said her bus fare to work cost more but she went anyway to get the tips from clients that keep her and a daughter alive.

Political scientist Makumbe said a 16-year-old who broke his collar bone falling out of a tree has lain at home in pain for days because his widowed mother does not have the million Zimbabwe dollars needed to have the bone set.

Makumbe said an estimated 70,000 people have died this year not because of the doctor's strike but because there are no drugs and because medical equipment like dialysis machines doesn't work any more.

Bread disappeared off the shelves this week after the government increased the price of grain sold to millers by 10,000 percent but did not increase the controlled price for bread.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Protesters defy Mugabe, police loyalty wanes

There is a ban on demonstrations...

The clampdown — in the 27th year of President Mugabe’s rule — is taking place as opposition groups begin campaigns for presidential elections due next year. Rival factions within the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have promised to continue public protests in defiance of the prohibitions.

“This is a de facto state of emergency,” said Tendai Biti, secretary-general of the larger faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai, the former national trade union head. “We are going to go ahead with our meetings. If they want to beat us up, they can beat us up. We will not give up.” Nothing would be achieved “unless we get arrested, beaten up and shot at”.

Article then points out police actually allowed last week's demonstration in Bulawayo...

No bread in Zim, but Mugabe eats cake


Zimbabwe’s economy is so dire that bread vanished from store shelves across the country on Wednesday after bakeries shut down, saying government price controls were requiring them to sell loaves at a loss. The price controls are supposed to shield consumers from the nation’s rampant inflation, which now averages nearly 1,600 percent annually.

In Harare, the capital, the police banned demonstrations and political gatherings in the city’s sprawling townships on Wednesday, citing the threat of looting and vandalism. Slum dwellers clashed with policemen on Sunday after the police blocked a court-approved rally by political opponents of Mr. Mugabe....

Emmanuel Fundira, the chairman of the fund-raising group, says that the theme of this year’s celebration will be “empowerment, prosperity and peace.” In Harare, however, some citizens were caustic in their assessment of the festivities.

“The guy is insensitive,” John Shiri, 41, a teacher at a primary school, told a local journalist. “There is no bread as we are talking, but he will be feasting and drinking with his family and hangers-on when there is no wheat in the country.”

Zimbabwe teachers earn a basic salary of 84,000 Zimbabwe dollars a month, plus limited allowances. The Central Statistical Office said last week that a family of five needed more than 566,000 Zimbabwe dollars, or about $123, to buy a month’s worth of basic commodities.

Tawanda Mujuru, who runs a vegetable stall on Samora Machel Avenue in downtown Harare, said that she would be working in a factory if not for the failure of Mr. Mugabe’s economic policies.

“He has the guts to eat and drink when we are suffering like this,” she said. “Let him enjoy. Every dog has his day. We shall have our day.”

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Zim plans to nationalize diamond mines

“Only government will mine diamonds,” Mugabe said on state television, adding that diamonds will fall into a “special category,” Bloomberg quoted. The president then accused the mining companies who currently operate in the country of selling their diamonds illegally.

On December 7, the Zimbabwean government evicted African Consolidated Resources (ACR) from Marange after thousands of illegal diggers descended on the area and started digging following the diamond find. The area has now been cordoned off and handed to the state-run Zimbabwe Mining Development Corp.

ACR, which is challenging the eviction, had formed alliances with government ministers and officials, Mugabe was quoted as saying.

``Government ministers and members of the politburo joined ACR, but we said no to that company,'' he said.

De Beers, the world's biggest diamond company, discovered the Marange deposit and passed it on to African Consolidated, Mugabe was quoted as saying.

``If the state takeover of diamond mines is passed into law, it will destroy diamond exploration in this country,'' Andrew Cranswick, CEO of ACR was quoted by Bloomberg as saying.

Zimbabwe has two diamond producing mines, namely the Rio Tinto and Riozim owned Murowa and River Ranch which is owned by private investors.

But Zimbabwean miners have seen this coming as the ageing leader has repeatedly warned them of looming mass nationalisation of mining operations....

Over 28,000 people have been arrested on charges of illegal diamond and gold mining in an operation dubbed Chokorokoza Chapera (No Illegal Panning), which started in mid-November to curb the country of illegal mining activities as the

Indeed, the inflation/currancy problems led to the inability to get spare parts or pay miners, so gold output last year fell.

But the linked article shows another “cleanup” that should please the ecology minded, but is another terrible blow to poor people at the bottom of the heap: it notes “Over 28,000 people have been arrested on charges of illegal diamond and gold mining in an operation dubbed Chokorokoza Chapera (No Illegal Panning), which started in mid-November to curb the country of illegal mining activities as the country.’
.Miners dig for diamonds in Marange, Zimbabwe (file picture)

Oh yes. Just like illegal vendors and unclean/unsafe slum housing were cleaned up with “operation cleanup”, the pollution/ecological degradation from these small panning/mining is terrible. But in a country with 80% unemployment, and 1600% inflation, some people see it as the only way to feed their famiies, explains the BBC .

Now, here in the Philippines, illegal logging has led to terrible ecological problems, but on the other hand, if you are poor, you are more worried about feeding your family today than if your grandchildren will have mudslides and ugly landscapes to cope with.

So the slide of Zimbabwe from a showcase of prosperity into another Marxist showcase of how to wreck an economy continues.

And since Mugabe, the president, is a revolutionary hero, South Africa and other African countries oppose any intervention by the UK to stop the tyranny.

crossposted to Bloggernewsnet

Monday, February 19, 2007

Riot Police block Zim protest rally

HARARE, Zimbabwe -- Zimbabwean riot squads fired teargas and water cannon to drive stone-throwing protesters off the streets of a troubled township in Harare yesterday after preventing the main opposition party from holding a major rally....The Movement for Democratic Change said police had arrested more than 120 MDC members while blocking the rally, which some government officials said was to mark the start of a foreign-backed challenge to its authority at a time of deepening economic crisis.

Armed police earlier sealed off the sports ground where the rally was to be held and arrested dozens of people, witnesses said, defying a court order to let the meeting go ahead.

The High Court ruled on Saturday that the government must allow the MDC to hold the rally, rejecting the police argument that they needed more time to find the manpower to monitor it.

State media suggested President Robert Mugabe was worried that the MDC wanted to use the event to launch a wave of antigovernment protests.

Political tension is rising amid 80 percent unemployment, nearly 1,600 percent inflation, widespread poverty and food shortages. Many doctors, teachers and university lecturers are striking to press for higher wages....

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Mugabe will negotiate with UK after Blair steps down

One thing about having the cowboy and his lap dog in charge is that honest dictators haven’t been able to talk peace. However, with the standown of Blair in the near future, and Bush being a lame duck president, there is a possibility that peace will soon break out all over. LINK.

“The Blair government is a queer government, and Blair behaves like a headmaster, old fashioned, who dictates that things must be done his way: ‘Do it or you … remain punished and an outcast,’” ….

“But we are hoping that with the departure of Blair, there will be a better situation there and they can be talked to,” he added.

The speaker is not the Iranian Mullahs or the president of North Korea, but the beloved president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe.

Mugabe has been considered an out cast since he confiscated the thriving white owned farms, which had supplied much of the food and foreign exchange for that country, and gave the farms to landless peasants and to his cronies. Since the peasants used basic farming techniques and were not supplied with modern hybrid seed, machines, and expertise for using farm machinery, fertilizer, or irrigation, and since many of the farms passed not to the workers but to Mugabe’s cronies, who had no desire or expertise in farming the famine from the moderate periodic droughts has caused food shortages for the last several years.

Since the villages that voted against Mugabe in previous elections were threatened directly or indirectly with the threat that no food would be supplied, many accuse Mugabe of manipulating his last election. Since then, in “Operation “Cleanup”, many townships that were the basis for Mugabe’s opposition have been demolished under the guise of cleaning up illegal shops and slums, an action that left an estimated 700 000 people homeless.

Since then inflation has been rising, and most recently has been estimated at over 1000 percent.

However, this has not stopped groups in South Africa from raising 1.2 million American dollars to celebrate his next birthday.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Surviving runaway inflation

The cost of absolutely everything in Zimbabwe has gone up. I am a student and my bus to the campus has trebled in price in the last two months. The cost of a meal has increased tenfold.

Most people have had to remove bread, milk, meat and eggs from their daily diets as these things are just too expensive now.

The implications of this rise in inflation are very serious. What it really means is the poor are getting even poorer....

Life is just terrible in Zimbabwe. We are unable to buy the basics any more. Soap, lotions and even cooking oil cost around $20,000 (US$80 officially, US$4 on the black market) now....

Friday, February 16, 2007

African church leaders need to concentrate on poverty, not gays

This is a "progressive" webpage, so we see stuff such as the need to concentrate on poverty and HIV not on "who is sleeping with whom".

Only a westernized person could make that remark, since it is precisely "who is sleeping with whom" and the promiscuity caused by the Western influences and by breakdown of African customs that is largely behind the spread of HIV, the abandonment of street children, the need for women to become "sex workers" because they have no husbands, and the breakdown of the extended family which was the social umbrella in traditional Africa.

But in the middle of the article, is this gossip about an Anglican bishop who DID get involved in is an excerpt:

one real issue the prelates will find impossible to sidestep is the leader of the Anglican community in Zimbabwe, the Bishop of Harare, Nolbert Kunonga, who has been accused by his own priests of terrorising Christians and turning his diocese into a branch of President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party.

Zimbabwean Anglicans want the archbishops and bishops gathered in Dar es Salaam to act against Kunonga, a ruling party loyalist in his late 50s, who they say is a disgrace to Christianity and to Africa. Anglican priests critical of Mugabe have been transferred to tough rural parishes and many have resigned. A plethora of legal cases between Kunonga and his disillusioned flock are stuck in Zimbabwe 's chaotic court system. In place of priests who have resigned, he has appointed men who have pledged not to criticise the head of state. He even licensed the acting vice president of Zimbabwe, Joseph Msika, a man on record as saying that whites are not human beings, to act as a deacon of the church.

From the time of his disputed election as Bishop of Harare in 2001 to the present Kunonga has, say Anglicans in Harare, made no secret of his personal ambitions for fame and fortune or his willingness to exploit fully his sycophantic relationship to Mugabe and ZANU PF.

His election in 2001 to the bishopric was shrouded in mystery, resulting in the defeat of a popular priest, and marred by widespread allegations that Kunonga had used his influence with the ruling party to secure the post. He is the only clergyman among many powerful individual Zimbabweans against whom heavy sanctions have been imposed by the European Union and the United States.

Kunonga has used his pulpit at St Mary's Cathedral in Harare to support Mugabe's controversial land reform programme, in which thousands of commercial farms have been confiscated from mainly white owners but also from some black farmers. During one of Kunonga's pro-Mugabe sermons, the choir began singing hymns to drown out his words. The choir was subsequently sacked by the bishop along with the cathedral wardens and cathedral council.

He was rewarded by Mugabe with St Marnock's, 2000 acres of prime farmland 15 kilometres outside Harare , confiscated from its previous white owner, 25-year-old Marcus Hale. The bishop installed his son in the seven-bedroom farmhouse, which overlooked a lake and sweeping fields of wheat and soya: the lake remains, but the house is now derelict and the crops have been replaced by weeds. The bishop, a short, thickset man who wears a jewelled cross over his cassock, also evicted 50 black workers and their families from the property.

Bishop Nolbert has lost few opportunities to sing the praises of Mugabe, who turns 83 on February 21. On that day Zimbabwe will, as it does every February 21, be ordered to come to a halt as "the great and wise authentic ruler" of the past 27 years requires the nation to pay homage to him.

Last year, Kunonga aped his political patron by ordering all 45 Anglican churches in the Harare Diocese - including St Mary’s Cathedral - to close on Sunday in honour of his 33rd wedding anniversary. Instead, he called all Anglicans to a fundraising prayer meeting at a sports arena. Each parish in attendance was asked to donate the equivalent of 2000 US dollars and each individual 20 dollars as a present for the bishop and his wife, Agatha. The 5000-seat arena was less than half full. Nineteen church wardens and choristers were subsequently banned by a Harare court from attending services in St Mary's Cathedral after Kunonga laid charges against them of trying to disrupt his wedding anniversary.

In August 2005 the bishop, who likes to mock black critics of Mugabe as "puppets of the West", and has described Mugabe's repeated election victories as “God’s will”, appeared before an ecclesiastical court to face 38 charges arising from scores of complaints, all but three of which were registered by black parishioners. The charges included incitement to murder, intimidating critics, ignoring church law, mishandling church funds, bringing militant ZANU PF politics into the pulpit and preaching racial hatred. ...

Zim Union leaders arrested

Harare - Zimbabwean police have arrested two union leaders in Harare for inciting teachers to go on strike, said a police spokesperson on Thursday.

"We have arrested Raymond Majongwe, the president of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, for addressing teachers at a school in Mabelreign," police assistant commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena told AFP.

"He (Majongwe) was picked up together with somebody else. The two are still in police custody."

Pray Zimbabwe

PRAY ZIMBABWE is sponsoring a day of prayer for Zimbabwe on April 18, 2007.

If you believe in God, could I suggest you remember Zim in your prayers that day?

If you don't, just pray "to whom it may concern".

Actually, I'm a believer, a Catholic. But as a doc, I remember one of my teachers in medical school noting that docs are rarely pious types, but most believe that there is a reason for the things we see: both the tragedies and the miracles.

And as docs, our attitude to prayer is: It won't hurt...(but DON'T stop taking medicine. God uses docs and medicine to do his work too).

The ability of quiet believers to non violently overthrow oppressive governments is a matter of history, and not only in South Africa and with the fall of the Berlin wall.

In the Philippines, the "EDSA Revolution" also known as the "people power" revolution, was led by Cardinal Sin carrying a statue of Our Lady of Fatima. When Marcos sent his personal troops to arrest Cory, and arrest the Generals backing her, they were stopped by a million Pinoys singing hymns and praying on the main street, the EDSA.
There is an urban legend is that they were not dispersed by Marcos' thugs because a beautiful lady dressed in white appeared to them and said "don't harm my people"...Cardinal Sin was asked if this was the Virgin Mary or just a nun, and replied, well it could have been one of the nuns with me... but none of them were very good looking..

this is a joking way to say it was God's intervention either way you interpret the incident.

In Africa, too many tyrants use "witchcraft" to intimidate their people. (another word would be "voodoo", or using diabolic ceremonies to increase their power. Before Europeans laugh, I remind you that Hitler's SS performed similar ceremonies).

And the only way to overcome the diabolic is through prayer and humble obedience to God.

And again, if you are a skeptic, don't laugh, since if there is no diabolic influence, you can interpret this as people being afraid because THEY believe in a diabolic influence, and that fear can be overcome if they have God's power to do good.

So no matter what, pray for Zimbabwe.

I'll be saying my rosary for Zim on that day.

We Catholics figure Mama Mary is on the side of the poor people.

Mugabe running on empty

(article starts by listing all the strikes and problems with the economy)...


Opposition leaders are castigated, the media is stifled, public services within the municipalities are failing and the citizenry is growing weary. I think Zimbabweans have a lot of patience (maybe too much for their own good). But this situation won’t stay the same forever. The teachers went on strike last week and they have refused to back down. With nearly all public services shutting down the last resort will be an all out rebellion against the government...

He then goes on to note that trade union opposition is threatening the gov't of Guinea, and is a potential source of trouble for Mugabe.

He also lists a bunch of links. I may review and post them later if I have time, but here they are:

My heart is in Accra
Zimbabwe: Where is the breaking point?

Selling to survive

This is Zimbabwe
Robert Mugabe - This is your Zimbabwe

Don't condemn Africa to underdevelopment

Good article.
Summary: Too many African economies are one crop/one export oriented, and China needs these raw materials.
Short term, China will help the economies by developing these things, but Africa needs to diversify, and China will not help this.
Also, by being competition to Europe, China will improve the economies by letting Africans get better prices.
But the bottom line is that China takes care of itself first, and is not altruistic.

And his summary needs to be noted:

In South Africa, official figures shows that cheap Chinese textiles have led to the loss of at least 67,000 jobs the past 4 years. South African unions have lobbied their government, who is busy negotiating a free trade deal with China to include clauses committing China to respect minimum labor, human rights and environmental standards. Most African countries, just like South Africa, export the capital-intensive commodities or raw materials that China hungers for, and import labor-intensive manufactured goods from China. So, the rise in exports to China typically generates few jobs, while imports from China take away jobs. If this continues, argues South African President Thabo Mbeki, the African continent could be "condemned to underdevelopment" and "recolonization". Africans should heed the warning.

This is what we find in the Philippines, where cheap Chinese goods prevent local factories from selling locally. Indeed, a recent agreement with china for vegetable imports may very well destroy many of our local farmers (and here that means more NPA or local communist support).

Mugabe will lose his grip

Washington Post predicts:

Mugabe failed to secure a formal resolution to extend his term for another two years at the annual Zanu-PF conference in December and I predict will finally see his iron-grip on his ruling Zanu-PF loosened, opening up a power-vacuum in that country. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change will be too divided to benefit. Instead, the solution will come from inside Zanu-PF itself. Mugabe and his ruling group within Zanu-PF's first choice, Joyce Mujuru, the deputy president, is likely to falter. Her challenger, rural Housing Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, supported by many hardliners, is also unlikely to bridge the heal the divisions in the party caused by Mugabe's bloody rule.

Former Zimbabwean finance minister Simba Makoni is likely to make a comeback as a leading contender to takeover from Mugabe. However, it is going to be difficult for Zanu-PF to prevent a split in the party following the departure of Mugabe.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Zim won't go to French summit

They weren't invited

...they invited themselves.
So the group said OK with some restrictions....
so now Zim is not going...

Teacher's unioin head arrested

"HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwean police arrested a union leader on Wednesday on charges of inciting teachers to strike for higher pay, according to his lawyer.

Raymond Majongwe, head of the Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe, was arrested one day after authorities detained more than 50 student activists who were planning to protest at rising school fees in defiance of President Robert Mugabe's government.

"We are processing their (Majongwe and two other officials) detention papers right now and they will spend the night in police custody," Otto Saki, Majongwe's lawyer said.

Police were not immediately available for comment.

Majongwe said his union represented 17,000 teachers...."

My friend, a teacher with a European Masters degree, was "retired" from her high school teaching job last year, the explanation was that higher qualified teachers cost too much...

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Rwanda to order family limits

Not mentioned:

The Tutsi president is planning to limit the mostly Hutu citizens not to have babies.

What's wrong with this picture?

Z$ 50 000 won't buy you a valentine meal

David Braithwaite
February 14, 2007 - 2:11PM
Page 1 of 2 | Single page

Lovers would need a suitcase of cash to afford a Valentine's dinner in Zimbabwe's capital Harare tonight.

One restaurant was advertising a romantic dinner for $65,000 in the local currency.

With one Australian dollar buying about 200 Zimbabwean, that's about $348 in Aussie dollars.

But with inflation running at a staggering 1600 per cent, prices are doubling every 30 days and a dollar is literally worth less than toilet paper.

The cost of living for a family rose 87 per cent from $Z245,661 in December to $Z458,986 in January, the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe told The Zimbabwean newspaper.

Economists predicted families could need $Z1 million to survive by June this year, the report said.

In one month, the cost of education rose by 262 per cent, transport 191 per cent, bread 179 per cent, clothing and footwear 119 per cent and vegetables 131 per cent, it was reported....

284 Women protesters arrested in Zim

POLICE in Zimbabwe arrested on Tuesday scores of women participating in demonstrations in two of the country's main cities.

The protesters were reported to be singing songs directed at the country's controversial President Robert Mugabe. Lyrics included: "your term is up... you have stayed too long."

Women of Zimbabwe Arise (Woza), a rights group which frequently holds protests, has held protests on or just before Valentine's Day for the past three years.

The group claimed up to 274 protesters were arrested in Bulawayo and 10 more in the capital Harare.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Zim inflation reaches 1600percent

On a month-on-month basis inflation jumped by 45.4%, compared to the 36.3% rise seen in December.

The country has been hit by an unemployment rate of more than 80% and chronic shortages of food and fuel.

Political tensions are rising as urban workers have been hit by the soaring costs of consumer goods, public transport fares and medical fees. ....

Floods wreck havoc in Southern Africa

"...Floods across southern Africa are wreaking havoc for tens of thousands of people caught by rising water that has washed away crops, homes and claimed the lives of dozens of people, the United Nations World Food Programme said on Friday (9th February 2007).

The worst flooding is in the central region of Mozambique. Persistent heavy rains in central and northern Mozambique and neighbouring Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe over the last three weeks have flooded the Zambezi, Chire and Rivubue rivers in Tete, Manica, Sofala and Zambezia provinces. The Lower Zambezi River in Mozambique, which is 800 kilometres long, has been above alert levels for nearly a week. ...+


The head of Mozambique's national relief agency INGC told Reuters around 27,000 people had been moved to accommodation centers from areas along the Zambezi river and around 41,000 more had no shelter after their homes were submerged.

Paulo Zucula said 280,000 people -- mostly poor rural folk who live in tiny mud huts and survive by growing vegetables and rearing goats and chickens -- would probably be forced from their homes this week as more rains swept the southern African country.

Experts fear the crisis could surpass the devastating floods of 2000 and 2001, which killed 700 people, displaced half a million and wrecked infrastructure.

"We expect more water than we had in 2001. ... The situation is deteriorating and it will get worse but this time we are better prepared than in 2001," Zucula said in an interview in Caia, one of the worst hit areas, some 1,400 kilometres (875 miles) north of the capital Maputo.

The floods, sparked when rains from neighboring Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi poured into the overflowing Cahora Bassa Dam, have killed 29 people and damaged thousands of homes and schools, mainly in the central Zambezia and Sofala provinces.

Monday, February 12, 2007

US$ 1 million sought for Mugabe's birthday bash

"...JOHANNESBURG, South Africa: Supporters of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe have launched a drive to raise US$1.2 million (€900,000) to celebrate his 83rd birthday next week amid the country's worst-ever economic crisis, the state-controlled Herald reported in Zimbabwe on Monday.

Critics say the money would be better spent on salaries for impoverished teachers, nurses and doctors, who have been on strike.....

Levels of discontent are rising: this weekend a civil servants' union warned that its 180,000 members were "agitated" over low salaries and wanted a minimum 400 percent pay rise. Nurses and doctors at four hospitals in Harare and Bulawayo have been on strike for seven weeks', paralyzing health care.

The weekly Standard newspaper said in an editorial comment on Sunday that it was "ironic" the government "sees absolutely nothing amiss in hosting an ostentatious birthday bash" when doctors and nurses were on strike and thousands of students could no longer afford university fees.

But the ruling party's youth secretary insisted that young people were "very keen" to see the president on his birthday.

"That day is a day where he will be closer to them, encouraging them to have good morals," Sikosana said.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Zimbabwe at the edge


The Telegraph said that with inflation running at a world-high 1,281 percent, Zimbabwe's bankrupt government cannot meet the rising needs of its people and the crisis has led to impending power blackouts, strikes and a collapse of both its military and police forces.

With four of the nation's largest hospitals crippled by a strike by junior doctors and 110,000 teachers doing the same at schools, the economic crisis continues to expand, the newspaper said....

Saturday, February 10, 2007

ASEAN on China in Africa


During the more than two decades of reform and opening up in China, and particularly with its switch to a market economy, African affairs had from time to time been sidelined. The various unselfish and generous forms of assistance to Africa made available during the Mao era were no more; and, were after all not sustainable. China's traditional ideological appeal had given way to a disordered and haphazard trend towards democracy in African countries. This was coupled with their difficulties in perceiving the fast-evolving economic and ideological changes occurring in China. At times, Africa became no more than a battlefield between mainland China and Taiwan for diplomatic recognition. Even worse, when cheap Chinese manufactured goods flooded the world market, the negatively affected African countries had good reason to worry and complain.

This time round, changes in China's mode of assistance to Africa are expected, wherein the stress on mutual benefits and common development is more pronounced. The Chinese President will certainly reassure his African counterparts that China is not coming to Africa to exploit its natural and energy resources, but is seeking to offer a helping hand for the mutual benefit of the parties involved. He is expected to explain China's new strategy to transform its mode of foreign trade by upgrading to more value-added goods, leaving more room to breathe for African countries. Most importantly, his concept of a 'harmonious world' should appeal to war-torn and ethnic-conflict-ridden countries, against the backdrop of reported 'clashes between civilizations'. For poverty stricken sub-Saharan African countries, they look forward to learning from China's successful experience in the hope of breaking out of the cycle of poverty in which they have been entrapped...."

Ignoring genocide, condeming others who try to stop killing

One reason that few are trying to do anything to stop Zimbabwe's atrocities may be that next to other countries, Zimbabwe is actually much better. (e.g. Dafur).
And I published this essay elsewhere pointing out that a Europe who dislikes getting their fingers dirty or using their soldiers as soldiers. That is why they prefer to blame America when they actually try to remove a murderous dictator, and continue to try to stop suicide bombers from killing innocent civilians in mosques and markets.

Yes, things are more complicated than that, but it is an important point and one that is often ignored in the MSM.


The investigation on the causes of the genocide in Rwanda was shut down by the UN, claims Michael Hourigan, an Australian who previously worked for the UN.

The UN shut down his investigation in 1997 when evidence started suggesting that the (Hutu) Rwandan president’s plane was shot down by order of the man who now is the (Tutsi) president of that country.

The genocide started hours after the president’s plane disappeared, and there has long been suspicion that it had been shot down by the opposition.

France has also been accused of assisting the then Hutu president in training and arming his militia, who were the ones who then starting killing their rival (Tutsi) neighbors and moderate Hutus who tried to oppose the genocide.

My African expertise does not extend to Rwanda, except to know that tribal rivalries often go back centuries, usually long before European colonial takeover.

However, there have long been suspicions that outsiders trained the militias who caused the genocide, and that outsiders supplied the missiles to the opposition that caused the crash of the president’s airplane.

An independent inquiry noted that the UN not only did not increase the number of peacekeepers despite the request of the head of the UN mission there, but that the UN Belgian peacekeepers were actually forbidden to protect civilians being massacred in their area.

These stories, like most from Africa, are often overlooked or ignored.

I find this bias appalling. Are black dead people less valuable than Americans? Or is it because an imperial UN backed by imperial European powers such as France and Belgium don’t want their acts of omissions and commission closely examined?

That is why I find it refreshing that it is the Australian foreign minister, not Condi Rice, who tells off the haughty Europeans for their anti Americanism. He points out that “”People in the West….blame America for a suicide bomber in a market in Baghdad,” he said…Every time there is an atrocity committed, it is implicitly America’s fault, so why not commit some more atrocities and put even more pressure on America?”

The ironic thing is that, for all the arguments for and against the war in Iraq, most people know that the Americans are trying to stop these atrocities, and often die doing so.

But by finger pointing at those actually trying to stop mass murder, those in Europe can ignore their own well documented failure to recognize that evil does exist, and that it is sometimes needed to stop it using war, not negotiations.LINK2

And it also allows the UN and other world powers to ignore the ongoing genocides in Africa, including the civil war in Central Africa, the starvation deaths of Zimbabwe, and of course the genocide of Dafur.


Friday, February 09, 2007

You know things are bad in Zim

First, the NYTimes,

Now Blogfather..who links to a blogger who links and discusses the NYTimes story.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Mugabe's genocide, and how Mbecki helped him

"...Matabele ZIPRA deserters and their colleagues remaining in the bush, were labelled ‘dissidents’ by Mugabe and were killed wherever they were found – often brutally and in cold blood. Emmerson Mnangagwa, the then Minister of State Security, announced in parliament in February 1984 that 459 ‘bandits’ as he labelled them, had been killed. There is little doubt that many more than that number were eliminated.

Mugabe had meantime called in the communist North Koreans to train the 5-Brigade (1981). He had a sinister motive for doing so.

The 5-Brigade, which was directly answerable to Mugabe, was variously deployed in Matabeleland over the period 1983 to 1984 – ostensibly to locate and destroy ZIPRA ‘dissidents’. Ultimately, in February 1983, some 16000 square kilometres of Southern Matabeleland and an area of the Midlands inhabited by mainly Matabele people, was cordoned off. Soon thereafter a 24-hour curfew was imposed.

No food was allowed into the curfew area and as the region was in the grips of a third drought in a row, thousands of innocent rural people starved to death.

The 5-Brigade then commenced the systematic and indiscriminate elimination of innocent Ndebele men, women and children.

What supposedly started off as a war against ‘dissidents’ ended up as an attempt to crush the Matabele nation – nothing other than a classic case of genocide - more politely referred to as ‘ethnic cleansing’.

This was punishment and retribution for the attacks suffered by the Shona at the hands of the Matabele during he 1840-1890 period. Mugabe’s 5-Brigade wiped out entire villages so that there were no survivors to tell tales – other villagers simply disappeared.

At least 15 000 and possibly as many as 30 000 were killed in the most brutal fashion – the true number may never be known because of the vast area involved and the methods used. Ian Smith, the former Rhodesian Prime Minister in his book ‘The Great Betrayal’, puts the death toll at 30 000.

The 5-Brigade was led by Colonel Perence Shiri - currently commander of the Zimbabwe Air Force.

This inhuman thug daubed ‘The Beast of Bhalagwe’, set up a torture and killing camp in Southern Matabeleland.

Thousands of men, women and children – regardless of age or health – were rounded up and conveyed to this and other camps to be re-educated in typical ‘old style’ communist fashion.

Thousands of innocents were murdered, raped, maimed, beaten or simply disappeared. Horrendous and sickening methods of torture were employed....

The feared Central Intelligence Organisation under the control of Emmerson Mnangagwa (until recently - January 2005 - Mugabe’s heir apparent), then Minister of State Security in Mugabe’s office, was at the forefront of the brutal and sadistic forms of torture and killings.

The ANC had a presence in Zimbabwe at the time these atrocities occurred. There has never been any condemnation by the ANC of the genocide Mugabe perpetrated on his own black population after independence in 1980....

The seizure of white owned commercial farms that commenced in 2000 was and is a desperate attempt to stay in power – his trump and last card in order to secure victory at the 2002 elections.

These politically inspired land seizures led to the deaths of many, and the displacement of some four thousand mainly white commercial farmers and an estimated 1.5 million black farm workers and their families.

Mugabe does not give a jot about the illegality or consequences of his actions. He has brought economic ruin on his country to save his own skin and to remain in power – and not for the ideological reasons he claims.

The seizure of white commercial farms resulted in the commencement of Zimbabwe’s economic collapse....

Rainfall for that season was only 22 percent below the 50-year average, and in late 2001 dams throughout Zimbabwe were reported full and the stored water available to agriculture.

The resettled black farmers planted few crops either then or thereafter - leading to famine, which persists in 2006.

Mbeki’s statement to the American press (June 2005) that the famine in Zimbabwe is due to the drought is a distortion of the truth – yet another indication of his support for his despotic and tyrannical friend.

According to a World Bank report on Zimbabwe (February 2005) the redistribution of 80% white commercial farmland to the landless poor, has resulted in 70% of Zimbabwe’s 11.6 million people living below the poverty line.

The admission (London Daily Telegraph January 2006) by the Mugabe government that its seizure of white-owned farms has benefited fewer than 10% of black Zimbabweans promised new futures as commercial landowners, establishes Mugabe’s destruction of agriculture and the resultant famine.

The Zimbabwe Land Ministry report declares that a third of the land given to these new farmers is lying idle, nothing was happening on another 11% and 30% was classed as ‘under-utilised’.

The resettlement scheme has benefited only 4 867 people while 1.5 million black farm workers and their families were kicked off white owned farms....

Mugabe often reminds the ANC of the part he played in their struggle – no doubt the ANC’S “hour of need” Mbeki so often refers to.

Mbeki’s lack of firm action against Mugabe can only be due to the historical and ideological backgrounds they share – which is a bad omen for South Africa.

Mbeki could have and still can bring Mugabe to heel by simply threatening to close the border, and if necessary, restrict trade and the flow of essentials supplies to Zimbabwe – a successful ploy John Vorster and Henry Kissinger used to force the Rhodesians to end their war and accept the principle of majority rule....

The article has many many more details, and warns Mbecki, who ignores Mugabe's atrocities and supports the philosophy behind the atrocity, might start importing the same ideas and deeds to South Africa in the future.

Thanks for the "headsup" from Zimfinalpushblog.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

As Inflation soars the Zim economy plunges

JOHANNESBURG, Feb. 6 — For close to seven years, Zimbabwe’s economy and quality of life have been in slow, uninterrupted decline. They are still declining this year, people there say, with one notable difference: the pace is no longer so slow.

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Desmond Kwande/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Rising school fees force many Zimbabwean children to learn at home.

Indeed, Zimbabwe’s economic descent has picked up so much speed that President Robert G. Mugabe, the nation’s leader for 27 years, is starting to lose support from parts of his own party.

In recent weeks, the national power authority has warned of a collapse of electrical service. A breakdown in water treatment has set off a new outbreak of cholera in the capital, Harare. All public services were cut off in Marondera, a regional capital of 50,000 in eastern Zimbabwe, after the city ran out of money to fix broken equipment. In Chitungwiza, just south of Harare, electricity is supplied only four days a week.

The government awarded all civil servants a 300 percent raise two weeks ago. But the increase is only a fraction of the inflation rate, so the nation’s 110,000 teachers are staging a work slowdown for more money. Measured by the black-market value of Zimbabwe’s ragtag currency, even their new salaries total less than 60 American dollars a month.

Doctors and nurses have been on strike for five weeks, seeking a pay increase of nearly 9,000 percent, and health care is all but nonexistent. Harare’s police chief warned in a recently leaked memo that if rank-and-file officers did not get a substantial raise, they might riot.

In the past eight months, “there’s been a huge collapse in living standards,” Iden Wetherell, the editor of the weekly newspaper Zimbabwe Independent said in a telephone interview, “and also a deterioration in the infrastructure — in standards of health care, in education. There’s a sort of sense that things are plunging.”

There's a lot more, good summary for readers who rarely read about Zim in the NYTimes

Monday, February 05, 2007

South African support for Mugabe land grab

Mbeki says it's the UK fault for not giving them money, but the article goes on:

Mbeki’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs headed by Foreign Minister Dlamini-Zuma has long since found Mugabe’s land grab policy ‘acceptable’, and has said as much in press releases including a statement that it would be “unrevolutionary” to criticise Zimbabwe.

President Mbeki must surely know, that after funding land reform to the tune of forty four million pounds, the British government in 1992 discovered that the resettlement programme operated by Mugabe was plagued with corruption.

Instead of benefiting the ‘landless poor’, a large number of the best white owned commercial farms ended up in the hands of Mugabe’s family, relatives, friends and political cronies.

After 1992, Britain made funding for land acquisition conditional on transparency and the implementation of controls to ensure that acquired white commercial farms ended up in the hands of the ‘landless poor’ - and not in the hands of Mugabe’s cronies. Mugabe refused to accept the conditions imposed by the British.

In 1998, Mugabe arranged a three day ‘donors conference’ in order to raise $6 billion for land acquisition. Some 22-donor countries attended the conference and pledged financial support on stringent conditions, requiring Mugabe to formulate a policy that met transparency and poverty alleviation criteria.

Land acquisitions were also to be on a willing ‘buyer - seller’ basis at market related prices. Mugabe failed to implement the necessary mechanisms and received no donor aid.

When asked what went wrong with the donor conference, he quite incredulously blamed Britain for not coming up with the funds.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

The bullet's in the mail...or not...

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's spokesperson on Friday accused the editor of an independent newspaper of staging a "cheap sideshow" by claiming he was sent an envelope containing a bullet.

George Charamba, who is also the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Information and Publicity, accused, Bill Saidi -- acting editor of the Standard -- of trying to distract the public from his paper's "monumental editorial failure".

A large envelope containing the bullet, a clipping of a cartoon published in the previous edition and press clippings from the paper critical of Mugabe's government, was delivered anonymously to Saidi's office on Wednesday.

The note said: "What is this? Watch your step," according to Friday's edition of the Zimbabwe Independent, the Standard's sister paper.

The cartoon depicted baboons laughing at a Zimbabwean soldier's pay-slip.

In a statement issued Friday, Charamba accused the Standard of staging a media drama, according to a report on state radio.

"The media drama is meant to divert attention from his [Saidi's] monumental editorial failure on January 7, which falsely claimed that the Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono had wastefully bought a top-class Mercedes Benz," the statement said.

The Standard had claimed in a front-page report that Gono had imported a Mercedes Benz Brabus V 12 bi-turbo vehicle worth $365 000 in 2006.

It later emerged that the central bank had approved the purchase of a Mercedes Benz S500 worth $138 000 by the governor in 2005. The Standard published an apology last week.

Mugabe's soldiers protesting low wages

the actual headlines says they are revolting...

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Faithfulness, not condoms are not the answer

A good article on several levels.

But the practical (as opposed to moral ) reason is found here:

Were the condom, even on the most effective use, to make any mark on the rising infection rates of transmission of HIV the Aids virus, the money needed annually would equal more than four times the total amount spent annually on all Aids activities in Africa by the Global Programme on Aids.

And, as I have noted elsewhere, the "safe sex" message essentially pushes promiscuity without guilt, but the real victims are women and girls (and alas sometimes young boys) who can be exploited.

Ongoing Medical strike could cost lives


As Zimbabwe's disgruntled doctors and nurses continue their strike over low salaries and poor working conditions, concern is growing about how the prolonged stayaway is affecting HIV-positive patients.

The strike by health professionals, now more than a month old, has left dozens of desperate patients without medical care in rural and urban areas. Doctors, who earn less than US$240 a month, opened the gate to what has become a growing torrent of wage protests by demanding an 8,000 percent increase to cushion themselves against inflation, and high transport and food costs.

AIDS service organisations are worried that HIV-positive people living in a country with one of the world's highest prevalence rates could be in real danger..."

Many people with HIV have already been displaced by Operation "Cleanup", and are unable to get medicine in their rural villages. However one worries if the pressure will be used to stop this strike, making a precedent for the government to break other strikes that may follow their example.

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