Tuesday, December 30, 2008

China's new export: farmers

from the UK Independent

....The villages, ranging in size from 400 to 2,000 Chinese, have been set up across the continent, from Nigeria to Kenya, from Sudan to Zambia.

Mr Liu started the Baoding villages when he was head of Hebei province's foreign trade bureau in 1998 and was seeking ways to boost the local economy, which had been dampened by the Asian financial crisis. He discovered Africa.

"We found Africa was not affected by the crisis, and we went there, and found that local people were short of food, even though there was lots of land not in use for farming and plenty of animals," he says. "So I decided to switch from exporting goods to exporting agricultural expertise."

It is a winning formula for China, which has more than 20 per cent of the world's population but only 7 per cent of its arable land. "China has too many people and too little land," Mr Liu ponts out. "In Africa, they have plenty of land and too few farmers. Places such as Ivory Coast are short of 400,000 tonnes of food a year, and the local people cannot farm enough to feed the population. Local farming skills are not developed."...

Mr Liu largely skirts these broader geo-political concerns, focusing more on the positive impact of Sino-African relations. He notes that the cultural exchange can even extend to marriage. "Some Chinese men marry African women; they like African girls because they are very slim."

Zim doomed to another bad harvest

from the UKIndependent


Zimbabwe's food comes, when it does come, by road: either emergency shipments of maize meal from the UN's World Food Programme or family remittances packed with loving care into the overloaded minibuses, which make up the lifeline to South Africa.

Brian (not his real name), formerly a senior official in Zimbabwe's Commercial Farmers' Union, estimates that only 5 per cent of the food production that peaked in the early 1980s, during Robert Mugabe's honeymoon with the white farmers, now remains.

The sophisticated agricultural sector that formed the backbone of the economy has been "stripped for parts", the irrigation systems destroyed, machinery and storehouses dismantled, he adds. Even if power were to change hands today, farming would take "more than five years" to recover.

Agriculture needs "inputs", he says, and it needs that at the right time. But the planning and know-how have been systematically dismantled. "This will be by far the worst harvest," Brian says. This sector was the one that Mr Mugabe, when he was a guerrilla leader, was famously warned by Mozambique's President Samora Machel not to destroy, otherwise "you will face ruin".

He heeded that advice, until it was expedient after 2000 to cash in the commercial farms to shore up his political base. The farms, almost all white-owned, were seized and after much anti-colonial posturing the lion's share of them was handed out to his cronies for them to treat as their playgrounds.

Since then farmland and food have been used as weapons to starve Mr Mugabe's enemies and enrich his allies. The country is in ruins, but the ruling clique is still in power.....

Monday, December 29, 2008

Operation shut them up

I sometimes write on Blogger NewsNet, and posted a couple essays on Zimbabwe in the last few days:

Operation shut them up
...according to the Zimbabwe Times, the chief of the “law and order” section of the police department, with help from the military and the Central Intelligence Organization, is behind the kidnapping and intimidation of political activists and journalists. The operation even has a name: Operation Chimumumu (Shona for a dumb person, i.e. one who is unable to speak).

Jestina Mukoko, an ex newslady who runs the Zimbabwe Peace Commission, was kidnapped on December 4th when a dozen armed men appeared at her residence.Her only “crime” was to document human rights abuses during the elections.

Since then, many voices have been petitioning the government for her release, along with others who have been similarly kidnapped.

Just before Christmas, JudgeYunus Omarjee ordered the police to release Mukoro and 32 other activists and take her and 8 others whose lawyers alleged that they were tortured to be taken to the local hospital for evaluation and treatment.

The government however has refused to obey the court, instead taking Mukoro and 8 others, including a two year old baby, to a maximum security prison...

The high profile arrests might be the tip of the iceberg. One wonders how many ordinary people are intimidated or threatened, without any reports of what has happened.

Zimbawean activist Reverend Hove, who now lives in South Africa, reports that his family’s home has been firebombed, luckily those inside managed to escape without injury. However, the police response to the assault was a clue that this was not an isolated incident:

They called the Police and all the Police asked was, “Is there anyone who does Opposition Politics here?” When told “Yes” they said “That could be why” and left!

Things are so bad that even Nobel Prize winner Archbishop Desmon Tutu has suggested that the international community use threats of force to oust Mugabe.


Mugabe smuggling arms via the DRC

While the world is busy shipping in vital supplies including food and medicine to help the people of Zimbabwe, the UN reports that President Mugabe, who allowed the Harare area water system deteriorate because they “couldn’t afford” supplies, nevertheless managed to buy guns and other military weapons from China, smuggling them in from his friends in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This is despite an embargo forbidding shipments of arms to that country.

The reason for this deception is that an earlier shipment in April was discovered and diverted after South African Trade Union workers refused to unload the shipment. It eventually was reported to have been offloaded in Angola and flown to Harare.

In this case, the arms were sent to the DRC and flown to Harare......


Zimbabwe situation deteriorating

The good news in Zimbabwe: The rains have at last started. It’s a bit late to save the first planting, but at least in the north, December rains will allow people to do a second planting to get a crop.

The bad news? The rains will probably worsen the Cholera epidemic which has killed at least a thousand people, and probably more, since I suspect many rural people will die at home and not be included in the count.

The news keeps getting worse.

South Africa, with the aid of Russia, has blocked any attempt by the UN to alleviate the situation....

But at least Russia has an excuse: They are making mischief against the west. What is South Africa’s excuse? By blocking UN intervention, they are condemning not only Zimbabwe but much of South Africa to more refugees, bringing with them cholera…and there is an election coming up....

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Brains behind the abductions

from the ZimbabweTimes

The Zimbabwe Times can reveal that Chief Superintendent Chrispen Makedenge, who has been associated over the years with the arrest of opposition politicians, journalists and human rights activists, is the alleged mastermind behind the wave of the series of abductions.

Makedenge is the officer commanding the Law and Order section of the police, The operatives drawn from police, the Zimbabwe National Army and Central Intelligence Organisation have targeted members of the mainstream Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party as well as civic and human rights activists and journalists.

The operation has strangely been code-named “Chimumumu”, Shona for a dumb person.

Sources within the police force also allege that Makedenge is also in charge of the torture chamber at Harare Central Police Station....

The source said a large budget had been allocated to Operation Chimumumu.

Among the benefits enjoyed by Makedenge’s team were access to a variety of new vehicles that had been placed at their disposal, an unlimited fuel of supply and permanent bookings in various hotels throughout the country.

The source said Makedenge had been allocated a commercial farm in the rich Banket farming area and had benefited immensely from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s farm mechanisation programme....

The team is said to report directly to President Mugabe’s office....

Actiist's family home threatened

from Zimfinalpushblog


On Xmas morning (two days ago), I phoned my wife in Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe just to say Merry Xmas. I was phoning from a Public Telephone somewhere in Gauteng, RSA.

She then told me unknown persons had broken down the front door and threw a petrol bomb at about 1 am the previous night.

Everybody who was in the house managed to escape through the kitchen door but the furniture ie sofas, the TV, DVd player etc were all burnt to ahes.

They called the Police and all the Police asked was, "Is there anyone who does Opposition Politics here?" When told "Yes" they said "That could be why" and left!......

That was their welcome to Xmas. I sincerely thank the leadership of the MDC and all friends who arrived to give her comfort etc. during that difficult, traumatic time.

I'm hastily aranging for their relocation to be here in RSA with me!

"I have just seen Jestina Mukuro"

photo tracy stevenson
From Nehanda radio

I have just been to the Harare Magistrates Court where Jestina and others were produced apparently to be charged with organising the training of youth/militia in Botswana to overthrow the government.

She is OK, I held her hand, she has her glasses and proper clothes…the magistrate said it is up to the HIgh Court to decide the matter as it is already before them, however the lawyers present told me the High Court should simply order their release.

We wait to see what happens, but the important thing is that Jestina is indeed alive and seemingly ok, and now the lawyers have access to her and others at Harare Remand Prison.

Jestina before her arrest

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Zim police won't release activists

from the Australian

POLICE in Zimbabwe defied a High Court order for the release to hospital of a leading human rights activist and eight other opposition campaigners, taking them off to an undisclosed location yesterday.


On Wednesday, Jestina Mukoko and the eight activists were charged in court with recruiting or attempting to recruit people, including a police officer, to plot the overthrow of President Robert Mugabe. It was the first time most of the accused had been seen since they were seized three weeks ago by armed men saying they were police.

In court, judge Yunus Omarjee surprised observers by ordering the release of Ms Mukoko, her co-accused and 23 other detainees on the grounds their detention was illegal. The judge ordered that they be taken to a Harare hospital until their next court appearance, on Monday.

A lawyer for the opposition activists, Alec Muchadehama, said all nine had been taken to Chikurubi maximum-security prison on the outskirts of Harare. However, it was impossible to verify this.

Friday, December 26, 2008

aid workers struggle to stop cholera

from IWPR

Budiriro, a vast, squalid wasteland of shacks and refuse, is home to hundreds of thousands. The shanties resemble a collage of scrap lumber, rusted metal and chicken wire....
The city slum presents a picture of total neglect – stinking pools of stagnant water, overflowing drains and rotting garbage out in the open.

With the onset of the rainy season, there has been a sharp increase in the incidence of the water-borne disease in Budiriro.

“It’s raining cholera, literally,” Mushonga tells IWPR.

Aid agencies warn that in spite of their efforts to try to halt its spread, the cholera outbreak could get worse, as rainwater washes human excrement into the open drains....

The response has been immediate, with international financiers and western governments providing clean drinking water, purifying tablets and medicines.

But donors have voiced outrage at statements by Mugabe that the epidemic has now been brought under control, even as UNICEF reported that the disease has spread to two-thirds of the country and has begun spilling over into neighbouring Botswana, South Africa and Mozambique, mainly because of heavy rain.

While UNICEF is trucking in fresh water supplies to the country, this is still not enough to meet the demand.

In areas where the supply runs out, people are forced to buy water from neighbouring suburbs. The trade in water is rife with profiteering – the cost is ten times higher than what the residents with piped water pay to the Zimbabwe National Water Authority, ZINWA.

In a place where many people live on less than 50 US cents a day, most simply cannot buy it and are forced to scoop it out of filthy drains.

Though the government claims that it is addressing sanitation problems, the reality on the ground is different.

Zim authorities ignore activist ruling

from RadioNetherlands

The authorities in Zimbabwe appear not to have heeded a high court ruling on the fate of a group of activists, including the prominent human rights campaigner Jestina Mukoko.

The group spent three weeks in custody on suspicion of plotting a coup but on Wednesday the court in Harare ruled that the activists should be admitted to hospital, a possible indication that they were tortured during their detention.

A lawyer says the police have now taken Ms Mukoko to an undisclosed location. The fate of the other eight activists is also unclear.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Diaspora Dollars

from the BBC:

....I was at this shopping centre a few hours ago and it was packed, everything there is sold in foreign currency and you have to be prepared to stand in a queue for more than an hour - it's so full of people doing their Christmas shopping....
While Zimbabwean dollars are still in chronic short supply, there seem to be more US dollars about for the festive season.

The queues at money transfer agencies are really quite long, so I think there's a lot of foreign currency coming in from people with relatives in the diaspora for the holiday period - and that's the reason for the queues in supermarkets. ...

I think many people have decided to be defiant and enjoy the day despite all the many difficulties here - and many Zimbabweans are strong Christians. ...

Tutu says South Africa's Legacy "betrayed" over Zimbabwe

AfricaNews via Monsters&Critics:

London - Archbishop Desmond Tutu said Wednesday that South Africa had 'betrayed its own legacy' by failing to remove Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe from power.

In a BBC interview broadcast Wednesday, the archbishop and Nobel Peace Prize winner accused South Africa of losing the moral high ground by failing to stand up to Mugabe.

'We should have been the ones who for a very long time occupied the moral high ground. I'm afraid we have betrayed our legacy.'

Tutu said he was saddened that his own country appeared not to be on the side of suffering Zimbabweans.

'I want to say first of all that I have been very deeply disappointed, saddened by the position that South Africa has taken at the United Nations Security Council in being an obstacle to the Security Council dealing with that matter.

'And I have to say that I am deeply, deeply distressed that we should be found not on the side of the ones who are suffering. I certainly am ashamed of what they've done in the United Nations.

'For the world to say 'no, we are waiting for South Africa's membership of the Security Council to lapse and then we can take action.' How much more suffering is going to make us say 'No we have given Mr Mugabe enough time?''

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What next for Zim?

from Reuters Africa

(nope, no bias here, folks, just move on)

Here are possible scenarios in Zimbabwe's political crisis.

WHAT IS MUGABE LIKELY TO DO? Mugabe says he has invited Tsvangirai to be sworn-in as prime minister and is expected to name his 15 ministers allocated under a stalled September power-sharing deal. By pressuring a reluctant Tsvangirai to join a government, Mugabe may be trying to portray his old foe as a spoiler.

never mind that the post will have no power, since Mugabe controls the military, money, and police...


The United States has said it will no longer support a government that includes Mugabe and Britain has said Mugabe will have to step down if any power-sharing government is to succeed. Washington had been poised to help rescue Zimbabwe's collapsing economy as soon as the deal was implemented, including possible relief on $1.2 billion in debt to international institutions and the easing of sanctions. But Mugabe remains defiant and the West has little leverage over Zimbabwe. ...

not as long as China funds Mugabe and his military

Western foes can continue to withhold desperately needed aid critical to ending an economic and humanitarian catastrophe worsened by a cholera epidemic.

Not really. If you bothered to look, the west is continuing to send aid money. This allows Mugabe to spend money on arms, bribes to other countries, and of course parties for him and his friend.

Western countries will likely apply more targeted sanctions against those propping up Mugabe, but such measures have failed to weaken the 84-year-old leader in power since independence from Britain in 1980.

Because Mbeki and other African leaders are propping up Mugabe's government, and of course China is also helping by blocking stricter sanctions by opposing UN action.


The 15-countries in regional bloc SADC are better placed to apply pressure on Mugabe but critics say they lack the resolve to take strong action.

Am I the only one who thinks this isn't because they respect Mugabe, but because they are being bribed?

South Africa, the continent's biggest economy, has the most influence. It is Zimbabwe's main economic partner. Most of Zimbabwe's fuel comes through South Africa. South Africa is also a key source of electricity. Botswana and Zambia have taken a tough line against Mugabe. But other SADC countries are still awed by Mugabe's history as a liberation fighter and he has capitalised on this.

Mugabe says they lack the courage to use military force against his government.

They are probably right. That's the problem with international law: it allows the evil bullies to get away with genocide...


The power-sharing deal would almost collapse and Mugabe is seen calling for fresh elections as it would be difficult to run a government without a parliamentary majority. Analysts say Mugabe would form a government without the MDC to force the opposition to pull out and blame it for the collapse of the deal.

and A**h***s like this writer will write stories framed so as to repeat Mugabe's deceitful version of the story...just ignore those missing activists, the rural people frightened by militias, and the starving afraid to say anything for fear they won't be given food...

Tsvangirai's MDC has said it would quit the talks if what it said were abductions and attacks on its members continued.....


If Mugabe and Tsvangirai agree on a unity government regional countries are expected to mobilise an economic rescue package.

translation: If Tsvangirai insists on getting any real power, he will be kept out of the government and blamed for the continuing sanctions.. If he accepts a puppet position without power, Mugabe will have "won" and will get credit for his stonewalling of the opposition as if this were a good thing.

China blasts media reporting of arms scandal

from Reuters Africa:

BEIJING, Dec 23 (Reuters) - China on Tuesday denounced unspecified western media for misinterpreting a U.N. report that implicated China in a Zimbabwe-Congo arms scandal.

The report by a U.N. group of experts on arms trade restrictions on the Democratic Republic of the Congo said that country re-exported more than 50 tons of ammunition to Zimbabwe earlier this year.

The group also said that arms it believed originated in China had been flown into Congo, where factional violence has raged in the East for years, from Sudan.

"Some western media distorted related contents in the report of an U.N. experts group and framed China for selling weapons to Zimbabwe through Congo," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said on the ministry website....

Monday, December 22, 2008

Mugabe feasts while Zim starves

from Time Magazine

Photo Desmond Kwande / AFP / Getty

Zimbabwe's farms are ruined, its economy has evaporated, and its people have begun to starve and die of cholera. What better time to call a feast? According to reports in Zimbabwe's domestic press on Thursday, President Robert Mugabe and delegates to the annual conference of his ruling Zanu-PF Party will chomp their way through 124 cattle, 81 goats and 18 pigs over the course of their deliberations in the central town of Bindura...

The government response to the expanding crisis is increasingly bizarre. Mugabe has denied that the cholera epidemic exists. (A spokesman later claimed he was being sarcastic.) And some of his ministers and spokesmen have blamed a Western conspiracy — which they claim is running militia training camps in neighboring Botswana with the eventual aim of recolonizing Zimbabwe — for the assassination attempt on Shiri. Even the cholera outbreak forms part of this dark conspiracy: Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu described the disease as part of a "serious biological chemical war ...

Mugabe getting weapons

via SWRadioAFrica:

While the whole of the Southern African region earlier this year united in blocking an arms shipment from reaching the murderous regime of Robert Mugabe, a United Nations investigation has revealed that Chinese weapons are getting to Harare, via the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The report says at least two SADC countries are allowing shipments from China to land for onward passage to Zimbabwe.
The UN says it has credible information that between August 20 and 22 this year, a Boeing aircraft transported 53 tons of ammunition destined for the Zimbabwe defence forces, from the DRC to Zimbabwe....

An attempt by China to transport arms to the country in April was blocked by a South African labour union that instructed its members to refuse to unload a shipment that arrived in Durban, South Africa. Attempts to dock at ports in neighboring countries were also unsuccessful.

But this UN report says new shipments of AK-47 rounds, rocket-propelled grenades and hand grenades appear to have been routed through countries that are friendly to the regime in Harare. It says the weaponry was carried by a Boeing 707 with the registration number 9Q-CRM. The aircraft is operated by Congolese company EWA, whose owner is closely associated with DRC President Josef Kabila and Mugabe’s right hand man Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Liberty Mpakati, an intelligence analyst, said; ‘The information contained in the UN report is just the tip of an iceberg

Saturday, December 20, 2008



President Robert Mugabe has said that "Zimbabwe is mine" and rejected calls from some African leaders to step down.

"I will never, never, never surrender," he told delegates of his ruling Zanu-PF party at its annual conference.

Mr Mugabe also said he had sent a letter to the country's main opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, inviting him to be sworn in as prime minister.

Earlier, Mr Tsvangirai said he would pull out of power-sharing talks unless abductions of his supporters stopped.

He said more than 40 members of his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) were missing and accused the Zanu-PF of orchestrating a campaign of terror.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

South Africa blocks UN motion on Zim

from SWRadioAfrica:

Despite thousands of Zimbabweans fleeing the cholera infested country to neighbouring countries and the crippling economic and human rights crisis, South Africa has done it again and blocked a motion to allow the United Nations to get a consensus on how to deal with the Zimbabwean crisis.

A closed-door session on the country by the UN Security Council on Monday ended with South Africa and Russia going against a motion to censure Robert Mugabe...


Alex Magaisa said a resolution would have shown an acknowledgement by the UN that there is a fundamental problem that needed to be dealt with in Zimbabwe.

Gee, d'ya think?

Rains worse cholera risk

AP via the IHT:

GENEVA: The onset of seasonal rains in Zimbabwe has increased fears that the cholera epidemic could turn into a catastrophe with tens of thousands more sickened and further spread into neighboring countries, the Red Cross federation said Tuesday.

"We've already got a very serious situation and rain will only make it much, much worse," said Matthew Cochrane, a spokesman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

The rainfall, which usually brings floods to the southern African country, has started in the northern provinces, he said.

Aid agencies have been warning the rains could spread cholera further in a population already weakened by disease and hunger...

on the other hand, my friend wrote me she was worried because the rains were late, and people were starving...so it is good news that the rains have finally arrived.
Rain, by spreading sewage, makes cholera more widespread into the water supply.

Monday, December 15, 2008

check Mugabe's power

A letter I wrote to the Christian Science Monitor has been published.

Regarding the Dec. 12 article, "Zimbabwe cholera outbreak threatens regional stability": This article is mostly accurate, but at the end it says that President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister-elect Morgan Tsvangirai are "bickering" about cabinet posts, implying mutual blame for the lack of a coalition government.

Actually, it is Mugabe who stands in the way by insisting he get all the real posts and giving Tsvangirai only token cabinet posts. A similar "compromise" with Joshua Nkomo 20 years ago led not to cooperation but to the demise of the opposition.

Tsvangirai is right not to let Mugabe keep the police and military. Doing so would allow Mugabe to terrorize people at will while telling the world Zimbabwe's government is "elected" and so it should be respected.

Jestina Mukoko was collecting evidence of Mugabe's crimes

from the Zimbabwe Mail

BULWAYO - A prominent Zimbabwean human rights activist abducted 12 days ago was working on case files to be used as possible prosecution evidence against members of President Robert Mugabe's regime.

Jestina Mukoko, director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), is the most prominent among 20 political and civil society activists who have disappeared in the past six weeks.

According to fellow campaigners, Mukoko had established a network of hundreds of monitors - mostly church people, teachers and ordinary township dwellers - who had provided handwritten testimonies of the campaigns of brutality carried out by Mugabe's government...

A human rights lawyer revealed that just before Mukoko's abduction the ZPP had shifted from cataloguing violence in townships to the organised abuse of food aid, where people were forced to support Mugabe in return for maize deliveries. 'That upcoming report was going to be extremely embarrassing for the ruling party,' said the lawyer.....

Sunday, December 14, 2008

more news

Mugabe makes new "amendment"

and CNN thinks this sham means something, even though there are no details

IOL in South Africa reports that the plan is for new elections if the MDC doesn't approve of the powersharing amendment written by Mugabe.'

Harare - Zimbabwe's ruling party said on Saturday that it could call new elections if the opposition fails to support a proposed constitutional amendment meant to pave the way for a unity government.

The draft amendment will be published Saturday in the government gazette, the first step toward bringing it to parliament for approval, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said in the state-run Herald newspaper.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) won control of parliament for the first time in March elections, but does not have enough seats to approve the amendment on its own.

"In the event that the collaboration that we envisage is not forthcoming, then that will necessitate fresh harmonised elections at some point in time," Chinamasa said in the paper.

The implication is more terror for the people of Zimbabwe so that they vote correctly...


LA Times editorial blasts South Africa for it's failure to pressure Mugabe

from the LATimes

In one of his most strongly worded statements directed at the government of Zimbabwe to date, President Bush recently joined a chorus of international leaders and statesmen in calling for its monstrous president, Robert Mugabe, to step down. As he has done since the United States first started imposing targeted sanctions against his country in 2002, Mugabe shrugged and blamed Western interference for Zimbabwe's problems. Memo to Bush et al: This strategy is not working.

Mugabe's tyrannous rule and refusal to cede power have turned Zimbabwe from a relatively prosperous country into a sinkhole of poverty and disease whose populace, lately suffering from cholera, is fleeing in droves and threatening the stability of its neighbors. The situation is so bad that even African leaders who are ordinarily reluctant to interfere in the internal affairs of other nations are calling for military intervention; Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu have both recently pleaded for international troops...

Zimbabwe is deeply reliant on South Africa, its key trading partner and the source of much of its imported energy, food, machinery and other goods. Some say that cutting off these resources would only harm Zimbabwe's poor, yet in a country with inflation running at 231,000,000%, it's hard to imagine how they could be any worse off; meanwhile, without Pretoria's support, Mugabe would be unable to pay the military and police forces he needs to prop up his regime. Yet South Africa has refused to exercise its vast leverage, paralyzed by fears of angering a domestic contingency that still sees Mugabe as a hero who liberated his country from its racist white rulers....


Saturday, December 13, 2008

UN security council to discuss Zimbabwe

from the Zimbabwe times

LONDON (PA) - The United Nations Security Council will meet next week to discuss further action against Robert Mugabe’s regime in Zimbabwe, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has indicated.

In a speech on human rights he said that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had told him in a phone call that a meeting could be held as early as Monday to discuss the deteriorating situation there....

Cholera? What cholera? Oh that cholera...it's England's fault

one doesn't know where to start.

First Mugabe is going around saying there is no cholera in Zimbabwe

Then we hear it's the UK's fault.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Entire MDC leadership goes into hiding

from the ZimbabweMail

HARARE - The entire leadership of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has gone into hiding following well coordinated abductions and disappearances of its supporters and human rights activists by hired foreign mercenaries from as far as Angola and the Great Lakes region, The Zimbabwe Mail can reveal.

An operation code named “operation ngatipedzenavo” (Operation lets finish them up), was recently launched by Robert Mugabe's hardline party functionaries to destroy the leadership structures of the opposition.

This latest move now threatens the peace deal signed by Robert Mugabe and opposition leaders on 15 September this year and it is now feared that most elected opposition Members of Parliament might fled the country into exile, leaving the much awaited constitutional amendment in jeopardy.

The MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai has decided to stay abroad for fear of his life....

It is believed that the mercenaries are reporting directly to Emmerson Munangagwa throught former Rwandan Presidential Guard commander Protais Mpiranya and Mnangagwa is the Chairman of JOC (Joint Operation Command).

The operation is also receiving direct funding from the Reserve Bank.

Protais Mpiranya, the former head of the presidential guard during the 1994 genocide is on the wanted list of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, but he has since settled in Zimbabwe for close to 10 years and he is running Robert Mugabe’s close protection unit in the Presidential Guard together with the Libyan and Pakistan nationals.

Mapiranya is also suspected to have strong business links with Zimbabwe’s second most powerful politician Emmerson Mnangagwa and senior Zimbabwe army officers....

SADC to discuss cholera

from the Zimbabwean

JOHANNESBURG – According to sources, ministers from the Southern African Development Council (SADC) are due to meet on December 11 to discuss the recent outbreak of cholera in Zimbabwe that has claimed almost 600 lives and infected 12,000 people nationwide. The outbreak has been deemed a national disaster and concerns are growing over the spread of the disease into neighbouring countries as people continue to flee hunger and persecution in Zimbabwe.
According to a spokesperson from the South African health department, the ministers are health and water representatives from the SADC troika from South Africa, The Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia. The spokesperson gave no further details on the meeting but South African broadcasters have referred to it as ‘an emergency meeting.’

South Africa has sent a team of experts into Zimbabwe to determine the need for humanitarian assistance and it is hoped that the visit will push political leaders into action.....

over 15000 have cholera in Zim

from CNN

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HARARE, Zimbabwe (CNN) -- Nearly 775 people have died in Zimbabwe from the recent cholera outbreak, an official from the World Health Organization said Wednesday, refuting the government's claim that the situation is under control.

The number of overall cholera cases is also on the rise, hitting 15,141 on Wednesday, said Dr. Eric Laroche, who heads the WHO unit addressing health action during the crisis.

The WHO added that up to 60,000 people in Zimbabwe could be infected if the epidemic worsens.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said the country's widening humanitarian crisis could only be addressed once a "legitimate government" was in place.

"It is up to that government to deal with the problems the country is facing, which are quite wide-ranging," Tsvangirai said.

"But the immediate intervention of the health crisis has exacerbated the situation to the extent that it has now become an international crisis."

Laroche told CNN from the Zimbabwean capital of Harare that "the epidemic is clearly on the increase."

"I think it's going to last for several months."

Laroche said the current outbreak had a high fatality rate, indicating that sufferers were either not able to reach health centers in time or that the centers lacked the capacity to treat them.....

Cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe

from my essay at bloggernews

The bad news coming from Zimbabwe constantly getting worse. Now the problem is cholera.

Cholera is one of the few diseases that can literally kill a healthy person in 24 hours. You start vomiting, get terrible diarrhea to the point that your bowels empty and you end up passing clearish fluid. You literally dehydrate to death: You lose so much fluid you go into shock (low blood pressure from loss of the fluid in blood) and die.

The discovery of Oral Rehydration fluid is one of the miracles of modern medicine, but the idea is so simple that it gets little press. Someone discovered if you replace the fluid with water with just a certain amount of sugar and a small amount of salt, the fluid is absorbed much more efficiently by the sick person’s intestines.

A 1-liter preparation of ORT solution[9] contains:

Usually hospitals buy pre measured packets of the stuff (one packet for one liter of boiled water), but when I worked in Africa, our hospital pharmacist used to mix up our own, and made up packets to give out to our “village health workers” to keep in the villages. The dirty little secret is that diarrhea is common, and families might not have the time, money or transportation resources to go to the big clinic and sit all day waiting for treatment for common diarrhea; as a result, some kids die. But having trained workers in villages nearby who are trained to use this simple fluid saves many of these lives.

The rehydration fluid is especially important to save the lives of small children with diarrhea of all sorts. But for adults, it has made the difference in saving the lives of adults with cholera or more severe types of diarrhea.

Most of the time, these diarrhea type illnesses are “sporadic”: they break out, make a lot of people sick, a few end up in the hospital, but usually the disease is mild.

But cholera, even the less severe strain that is common in Africa, is different.

In epidemics, hospitals may be overwhelmed with cases. The danger of spreading the disease to other patients is high, so usually you place the patient in an isolation ward. The treatment is simple: You place a relative on a stool next to the patient, and instruct the relative to give the patient lot and lots of rehydration fluid. In areas where cholera was common, my friends told me that they used special beds with holes, so the diarrhea just drips through the cot into a bucket to make cleanup easier.

The nurses and doctors keep an eye on the patients, and if they can’t get enough fluid by mouth, might start fluid in a vein (IV therapy). But in third world hospitals, this is expensive, and in an epidemic you might run out of supplies. For rural epidemics, there may not be a nearby hospital, just a small clinic. Transporting a lot of very sick patients is impossible, so usually one sets up a cholera clinic at a local school or similar building, and the patients use (disposable straw) mats instead of beds.

This is, of course, a recipe for massive outbreak of the disease, but emphasizing strict hygiene and hand-washing prevents it from spreading.

Cholera can be treated with antibiotics (but they are not usually necessary), and there is a vaccine that gives some protection, but the real answer is hygiene and prevention.

In Zimbabwe, the problems with the Harare water supply has been known and complained about by residents for over a year. In January 2007, there were reports of sewage contaminating the water supply, then a few months ago, reports that those administering the water supply were not able to afford chemicals to keep the water clean. So it is not as if the epidemic could not have been foreseen.

Now, the water supply is almost absent in Harare: It has been shut down…

Since the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) had failed to find chemicals to treat the water supply, the state-run utility on Sunday stopped pumping water in the capital, the government mouthpiece Herald newspaper said….

Residents in Harare’s populous sister city of Chitungwiza said that their taps had also run dry. People throughout the city were carrying containers searching for water, while others have resorted to digging shallow wells in their yards in the hope of finding water.

Shallow wells, however, are often contaminated by sewage, or from latrines, and only make the problem worse.

In rural Zimbabwe, people traditionally go “in the woods”, away from the village; one shudders to think of what has entered into the water of “shallow wells” in city slums that lack sewers and septic tanks. Only those who have deep wells will be safe.

In the absence of a working government, the UN is trying to do these things to keep people from dying:

The United Nations Children’s Fund… has secured sufficient chemicals to treat Harare’s mains water for two or three weeks, with another four months’ worth of supplies on their way. Unicef is also distributing millions of water purification tablets and taking 360,000 litres of clean water to Harare’s poorest suburbs every day.

But Roeland Monasch, its acting representative in the country, said that many households could not manage the simplest preventative measure - boiling their drinking water - because they cannot afford the fuel.

The poor state of nutrition in a Zimbabwe where many are out of work or lack enough food means means that more of them will die. My friend has written that those in her area are starving; December and January are traditionally the “hunger season” before the crops are harvested, but this year there is little rain.

My friend, a teacher, was laid off last year because the government couldn’t pay more experienced teachers the higher salary; this year, however, many teachers are not paid at all, and most of the schools are closed….and despite the epidemic, many hospitals are closed because they can’t pay the salaries of the doctors and nurses (many of whom are leaving to work in other countries) and the hospitals that are still open lack medicines…

Obviously, one can see where this is going. With the economy collapsing, even more people will join the Zimbabwe diaspora, and some will take cholera with them.

As a result, already there are reports of Cholera outbreaks in nearby Botswana, Zambia and South Africa.

But the possibility of tens of thousands of deaths in Zimbabwe still hasn’t made Mugabe change his heart.

The European Union, President Bush, the presidents of Botswana, Zambia, and Kenya, Archbishop Tutu and others have said that Mugabe needs to leave, and proposed international peacekeepers to stabilize the collapsing country. What is preventing this is that, with only a few exceptions, the African Union continues to oppose his removal by force. I understand why pride makes some oppose outside intervention, but what good is pride when thousands will die?

The dirty little secret is that South African forces could remove Mr. Mugabe with little or no problem, yet that country has so far refused to do so.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Obama silent on Zimbabwe's problems

President Bush has issued a statement saying that Robert Mugabe should resign.
The European Union, Archbishop Tutu, leaders in Botswana, Kenya and Zambia have said the same.

But I ran across this quote about who is missing.

The international discord is nevertheless lacking one voice - that of US president elect Barack Obama, who has not last commented about the humanitarian disaster in Zimbabwe five months ago.

A spokeswoman for the President-elect's transition team indicated yesterday that she would be willing to issue a statement on his behalf.

Although Mr Obama has been keen to avoid second-guessing the White House on foreign policy issues and emphasised that there can only be “one president at a time”, this does not explain a prolonged period of silence that now stretches back to June 24.

Obama did have a discussion with Tsvangirai in June...

Solciers' mutiny?

from Bloggernews:

The Institute for War and Peace Reporting – an excellent source of information in troubled areas of the world – reported “Soldiers’ protests rock Harare” on Saturday last week. According to Chipo Sithole, Zimbabwe analysts are predicting that the protests from soldiers normally used to keep Mugabe’s opposition in check will force Mugabe to accept a deal with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

The soldiers have certainly been causing havoc on the capital’s streets, but Mugabe is not reacting as if there was any threat to his monstrous grip on the long suffering people of Zimbabwe.

Another commentator suggests Mugabe is merely up to another of his old tricks and wants to use rioting soldiers and battles between soldiers and policemen in the streets of Harare to convince his neighbors’ that a planned declaration of a State of Emergency is justified. Under the draconian military law of a Zimbabwean State of Emergency, Mugabe and his old terrorist henchmen will be able to “legitimately” rule by decree. All civilian laws, such as they are, will be suspended and Military Law will prevail. What remains of the opposition can be silenced and dissidents murdered by soldiers acting under the orders of Mugabe’s men. This is the how Denford Magora sees things on his blog page.... it would be well in line with Mugabe’s long term track record of promising compromise while tightening his grip. ...

More about abductions

From SWRadio Africa

The MDC reports that Gandhi Mudzingwa, a former personal assistant to MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, was abducted on Monday while talking to a relative in Msasa Park, Harare.

Mudzingwa was taken away by nine gunmen in six vehicles and ‘eyewitnesses at the scene of the incident said Mudzingwa was shoved into one of the Mazda 626 vehicles, which drove off towards the city centre.’


also from SWRadioAfrica:

The High Court has finally made a ruling ordering the police to advertise an appeal for the missing civic leader and veteran broadcaster Jestina Mukoko.

On Tuesday, after lawyers struggled for days to get a judge to hear the case of the missing Director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, Judge Anne Govora ordered the police to advertise an alert in all the state media and to institute a thorough investigation into her whereabouts.

Mukoko’s lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa told SW Radio Africa the police were also ordered to report to the court at 10am everyday to provide an update of their investigations.

The prominent civic leader was abducted from her home in the early hours of the morning last Wednesday, by a group of armed men who identified themselves as coming from the police Law and Order Section.

MDC advisor kidnapped

from the BBC

Eyewitnesses say MDC adviser Gandhi Mudzingwa was forced by nine gunmen into a car which then drove to the city centre on Monday afternoon.

It would bring to 18 the number of MDC activists and rights campaigners who have vanished in the past six weeks....

The MDC says it believes there is a systematic plot to decimate its structures, as well as civil rights groups involved in cataloguing violence and human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwean women demonstrate on the streets of Harare on 9 December 2008
There are claims civil rights groups are being targeted in Zimbabwe

The BBC's Peter Biles in Johannesburg says there is also growing concern about the fate of Zimbabwe Peace Project director Jestina Mukoko, missing since she was kidnapped from her home last Wednesday.

An urgent court application is being filed, demanding police produce her if she is in custody.

From KubatanaNet email:

International Human Rights Day / 10 December 2008

The past four weeks have seen enforced disappearances of at least 18 Zimbabwean activists, including Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) Director Jestina Mukoko. None of the disappeared have been found. Get involved and make some noise to protest the abductions of civil society and political activists in Zimbabwe.

The President's Office: +263 4 707098


Zimbabwe's Ministry of Home Affairs
Sky News
Talk Radio 702
Mail & Guardian
Leave a comment on the Government of Zimbabwe website

Visit this link for background information and a list of some of the Zimbabweans who have been abducted in the past month.
Visit the Stop Abductions in Zimbabwe Campaign Page here
Read the Amnesty International statement about Jestina Mukoko here

Monday, December 08, 2008

Zim Cholera spreads to nearby countries

from Bloomberg news

By Carli Lourens

Dec. 7 (Bloomberg) -- A cholera epidemic that started in Zimbabwe has spread to neighboring Botswana and Zambia as well as South Africa, the Southern African Development Community said....

The Zimbabwe cholera outbreak accompanied the collapse of the country’s health and sanitation systems following a decade of recession and political upheaval under President Robert Mugabe. The country’s health ministry reported 484 deaths and 11,735 cholera cases since August, according the Web site of the WHO.

Cholera, mainly spread through contaminated water and food and poor sanitation, causes severe diarrhea and vomiting that can lead to death.

The epidemic has escalated to an “international emergency,” U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown said, according to Times Online. Brown called on the international community to stand together and tell Mugabe “enough is enough,” it added.

Kenya PM calls for Mugabe removal

from ABC Australia

As Zimbabwe's humanitarian crisis grows, Kenya's Prime Minister Raila Odinga has called for foreign troops to be sent into the country to oust President Robert Mugabe.

Repeating his previous call for Mr Mugabe to step down, Mr Odinga urged the African Union to hold an emergency summit to formulate a resolution to send troops into Zimbabwe to deal with the crisis.

"We must not fail the dying people of Zimbabwe in this hour of their greatest need ... we must assist them to end this vile dictatorship, we must beg them not to despair," he told a news conference in Nairobi.

Mr Odinga accused other African leaders of shaming the continent by failing to criticise Mr Mugabe.

His comments came after Britain's Anglican Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, used a column in a British Sunday newspaper to also call for foreign troops to be sent to depose Mr Mugabe.

Writing in London's The Observer newspaper, he said "Mugabe and his henchmen" should face trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

"President Robert Mugabe was right when he said only God could remove him. That's exactly what happens. No tyrant lives for ever. No cruel regime lasts. God acts. And he is acting. An international chorus is at last being raised to bring an end to Mugabe's brutal regime," he wrote.

"The time for any negotiated settlement which leaves Mugabe and his regime in power is over. Mugabe has had the opportunity to share power and to restore the land that he brought to ruin. Instead, that path of ruination has become a slope falling away into a humanitarian disaster.

"The time has come for Mugabe to answer for his crimes against humanity, against his countrymen and women and for justice to be done. The winds of change that once brought hope to Zimbabwe and its neighbours have become a hurricane of destruction with the outbreak of cholera, destitution, starvation and systemic abuse of power by the state.

"As a country cries out for justice, we can no longer be inactive to their call. Mugabe and his henchmen must now take their rightful place in the Hague and answer for their actions. The time to remove them from power has come."

Zimbabwe is struggling to cope with an outbreak of cholera which has killed 600 people since August.

Earlier, Zimbabwe's Government accused former colonial ruler Britain of using the cholera epidemic to rally Western support for an invasion of the collapsing southern African nation, a state-run newspaper said.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has branded Mr Mugabe's Government a "blood-stained regime" and said it was responsible for the cholera epidemic that has killed at least 575 people. The world must tell Mugabe "enough is enough", he said.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Zimbabwe is bad, but welcome to hell

I often say that Zimbabwe is bad...but that anarchy and civil war would be worse.

Link is to Strategypage, who describes the situation for refugees in Chad:

December 6, 2008: Since the 3,700 EU peacekeepers can only cover about half the refugee camps in eastern Chad (containing nearly half a million Sudanese and Chadian refugees), the bandits have figured out which camps are vulnerable, and concentrated on looting and robbing in those areas. NGOs are prime targets, and some of these medical and food relief operations have been shut down until government or EU forces can move in to make it temporarily safe. So far this year, there have been 10-20 attacks on NGO personnel a month. The UN is calling for an UN force of 6,000 peacekeepers to replace the EU troops, but no one is eager to send their soldiers to such a remote and hostile place.

The biggest problem any peacekeepers face is the gangs of bandits and Darfur rebels who live off the camps. There are dozens of these groups, and some of them contain a hundred or more armed men. The principal Darfur rebel group, JEM, often keeps family members in Chad refugee camps, and think nothing of coming by, gun in hand, for a visit. This is a true frontier area, beyond the law, and full of characters, carrying guns and willing to kill if pushed.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Kenya PM calls for Mugabe removal

from the BBC:

...Power-sharing in Zimbabwe is dead and it is time for African governments to oust President Robert Mugabe, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga has said....
"It's time for African governments... to push him out of power," Mr Odinga said after talks with Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai...

"Power-sharing is dead in Zimbabwe and will not work with a dictator who does not really believe in power-sharing," Mr Odinga told the BBC. ...
The comments could signal a ramping up of pressure in the region against Mr Mugabe, says our correspondent.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Frustration high in Zimbabwe

From the CSMonitor:

....Starting Nov. 27 and continuing until Monday, Army soldiers rampaged through the capital, Harare, after hearing that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe would be unable to print enough currency to pay their daily wages. Hundreds of soldiers took their anger out on street vendors, looting the markets for food and other goods.

Combined with the Monday cutoff of public water supplies, for lack of chemicals to prevent the spread of rampant cholera, the regime of President Robert Mugabe appears to be imploding.

The looting by members of the armed forces is the beginning of an end to Mr. Mugabe's regime, says University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer John Makumbe. "It might look or sound small, but it is an indication of the dissatisfaction that is in the Army and the general public of Zimbabwe," he says.

Declaring the end game for a regime as tenacious as Mugabe's is, of course, a risky venture. Judging by most measures, Mugabe's government should have collapsed long ago – yet somehow it keeps going. But rebellion by well-trained, well-armed soldiers in the capital city is never a good sign, and with hopes of a political compromise between Mugabe and his opposition rival Morgan Tsvangirai diminishing, the possibility of a violent and uncontrollable uprising seems to be increasing by the day.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Zim peace project director abducted

from SWRadioAfrica

The two messages below were received by COSATU this [Wednesday] morning

Dear Patrick

I just wanted to draw your attention to the abduction of Jestina Mukoko, Director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP). Jestina was abducted by plain clothes individuals, in the early hours of this morning (5am), from her home in Norton, Zimbabwe. Her teenage child alerted human rights’ defenders from the Zimbabwe Lawyers’ for Human Rights about this at about 7.30am. The security agents were armed and driving a Mazda Familia with no number plates. This situation is extremely distressing and demands attention by authorities both within and outside of the country as well as solidarity from civil society and trade unions in the region.

Kind Regards

Zimbabwe Desk

Transitional Justice in Africa Programme

Institute for Justice & Reconciliation

Zim cholera march broken up

from the BBC

Police in Zimbabwe
This is the second time in a month a health protest has been broken up

Police in Zimbabwe have broken up a march by nurses and doctors in the capital, Harare, angered at the worsening cholera outbreak.

Witnesses say officers used batons to disperse and beat up the crowd of health workers.

Correspondents say there was no sign of trade union protest called over the deepening banking crisis.

The defence minister has said soldiers who rioted earlier this week over cash shortages will be arrested.

On Monday, dozens of troops ran amok in Harare after losing their temper while queuing up to withdraw cash. ...
The cholera outbreak has killed at least 565 people since August and more than 12,545 cases of cholera have been recorded over the same period, the latest statement from the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Most of Zimbabwe's capital has been without water since Sunday. ...

Zim to represent Africa at international conference.

sorry for lack of posts

between the internet on and off and the brownouts I missed a few days, and a couple posts didn't get posted
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