Monday, November 30, 2009

Zim airplane crashed in China

The crash was reported in the news here in Asia, and it made me wonder...then today, there were reports that some Americans were killed in the crash.

it was going to to Kyrgyzstan...???? both US and Russia have military bases there and there is a lot of smuggling to there, including heroin, but that usually goes across the border.
Wall Street Journal
Article has more:

Avient, whose Web site says it was founded in 1993, has drawn scrutiny in the past because of accusations that it has supplied weapons to conflicts in Africa. A United Nations report in 2002 said Avient had been involved in illegal actitivies in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The British government later investigated the charges but didn't find evidence supporting them. The company has since been accused of other illicit activities by think-tanks that investigate conflicts around the world.

Mr. Clarke at Avient denied all accusations against the company. "We do not carry arms and ammunition," he said...

The rest of the article is about the aircraft involved, which is a tricky plane to fly, and why.

Mutsekwa orders arrest of killer Mwale

From SWRadioAfrica

Co-Home Affairs Minister Giles Mutsekwa has ordered the police to arrest notorious state security operative Joseph Mwale, who is accused of murdering two MDC activists at Murambinda Growth Point in 2000. Tichaona Chiminya and Talent Mabika were brutally killed when Mwale threw a petrol bomb into their car, burning them to death. Kainos Kitsiyatota Zimunya, another ZANU PF activist, was also implicated in the murder.

Despite a High Court order to have Mwale arrested and charged with murder he has remained at large,

Friday, November 27, 2009

Selling Africa

two links via Afrikasources

Stop the Land Grab

To date, more than 40 million hectares have changed hands or are under negotiation -- 20 million of which in Africa alone. And we calculate that over $100 billion have been put on the table to make it happen. Despite the governmental grease here or there, these deals are mainly signed and carried out by private corporations, in collusion with host country officials. GRAIN has compiled various sample data sets of who the land grabbers are and what the deals cover, but most of the information is kept secret from the public, for fear of political backlash.

Nothing in this race for farmlands in the South is in the interest of local communities, whether you're talking about Pakistan, Cambodia, the Philippines, Madagascar, Kenya, Sudan, Ethiopia or Mali. Many of these countries are tremendously food insecure themselves. And these land grabs are designed to do away with small scale farming, not to improve it. If only for that reason alone, this new global land grab has been quickly seen by social movements as a recipe for profound conflict -- over not only land, but water as well.

Today in Rome, we have a microcosm of this conflict. Over at the FAO, governments, international agencies (like the World Bank) and private companies (like Yara, Bunge and Dreyfus) are trying to work out what they call codes of conduct or voluntary guidelines to make these deals “win-win”. Their main concern is the money. They don't want the dollars and the dirhams being put on the table for farmland acquisitions to run away. So they have constructed an opportunistic response: to make these land deals “work” by managing the risks involved. And we know why. After 50 years of agricultural modernisation schemes like the Green Revolution and biotechnology, and the last 30 years of broader structural adjustment programmes, we have more hungry people on the planet than ever. It's plain knowledge that all these programmes to supposedly feed the world have backfired. Unfortunately, the World Bank and others have now decided that the best option is to fly forward, follow the money and install large scale agribusiness operations everywhere, particularly where they have not taken root yet, in order to fix the problem. That is the essence of the land grab paradigm: to expand and entrench the Western model of large scale commodity value chains. In other words: more corporate-controlled food production for export.

The whole article is an "Ain't it awful"...
The part against the green revolution is typical: Note that part about more people hungry? Well, it's because there are more people (i.e. they haven't starved to death). The actual number of hungry people is lower.

Nowadays, the only people starving are in failed countries such as North Korea or Zimbabwe, and it is due to failed governments

Ghadaffi asks to stop African land grab.

But U.N. officials said investments in land could also benefit small farmers in the developing world.

"It is a wrong language to call them land grabs. Those are investments in farmland like investments in oil exploration," said Kanayo Nwanze, who heads the U.N. International Fund for Agricultural Development. "We can have win-win situations."

Earlier this year the International Food Policy Research Institute, a Washington-based think-tank, said that since 2006 15-20 million hectares of land in poor countries had been sold or were under negotiations for sale to foreign buyers.

Supporters of such deals say they provide new seeds, technology and money for agriculture in economies that have suffered from under-investment for decades.

FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf told the summit "private investment should be encouraged," both domestic and foreign, but rules were required "preferably within the spirit of a code of conduct on agricultural investment in developing countries."

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

New Social sector data


...The data showed a 20 per cent increase in under five mortality since 1990, the baseline year for the Millennium Development Goals, with children in rural areas and those in the poorest one fifth of the population being the most vulnerable. Major causes of death of children under 5 are HIV/AIDS, newborn disorders, pneumonia and diarrhoea.

The survey also showed startling data that 1 in 2 pregnant women in rural areas were now delivering at home and that 39 per cent nationally were not accessing the requisite medical facilities for delivery, while 40 per cent where not attended to at birth by a skilled attendant posing huge dangers for both mothers and newborns. These findings confirm the result of previous research indicating that user fees and other financial barriers are limiting women’s access to life-saving obstetric services.

In addition data from the national survey which had a sample size of 12,500 households in Zimbabwe, revealed stark disparities between the rich and poor with the lowest quintile being the hardest hit in terms of access to critical services in health and education.

Current data also revealed limited support to the country’s orphaned and vulnerable children, with 79 per cent not receiving any form of external assistance. Further, around two-thirds of all children in the country do not possess birth certificates....

Monday, November 23, 2009

WOZA women win award

from the AP

WASHINGTON — After the beatings by President Robert Mugabe's policemen, the overcrowded, lice-ridden jail cells, the degradation of nightly strip-searches, Jenni Williams and Magondonga Mahlangu still cling to hope for Zimbabwe.

They talk of hope that the devastated country still may be able to write a homegrown constitution, which would lead to real elections and recovery from the depths that a decade of increasingly malign misrule has dug....

it's a good article...go to link.

China-Zim farming

from the Herald.

"There are indeed ongoing negotiations for contract farming arrangements in the agricultural sector. The greatest impact of Chinese involvement in Zimbabwe has been in the agricultural sector, which as you know is the backbone of the economy," he said....

Apart from the support in agriculture, China has also supported the countriy's mining and manufacturing sectors with the China-Africa Development Fund acquiring shareholdings in Zimasco and uranium joint ventures with the Zimbabwe Mining Development Company.

Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Xin Shunkang, yesterday said they had provided at least US$300 million to the country in the past three years and urged the strengthening of ties between the two countries....

Hmmm....wonder how much will actually get to help the people of Zimbabwe?

Here in the Philippines, a multimillion dollar "Chinese broad band" contract fell through after a whistle blower thought that a 40
percent kick back was just too high...(the usual kick back/bribe here in the philippines is 20 percent of a contract going to politicians)

Of course, none of the money went to our lovely president (but her husband was probably involved)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

MDC claims ZANU PF terror campaign

from SWRadioAfrica

...The MDC has accused ZANU PF of mobilizing its militia to re-open torture bases countrywide, to intimidate the electorate into accepting the controversial Kariba Draft constitution. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s party says it has unearthed evidence that meetings are being convened to revive terror squads to harass, intimidate and torture people to endorse the draft constitutional document, which leaves sweeping presidential powers largely intact....
At Chief Nhema’s homestead in Zaka North, Masvingo, ZANU PF official Shenu Jeya openly told villagers that all militia bases set up last year during the violent presidential run-off had to be re-opened. Another meeting in Murehwa at Zihute Hall saw one district chairman, known as Siwela, telling the gathering that ‘if they heard their neighbours screaming at night, they should remain indoors.’ He also warned that ZANU PF youths were monitoring the movements of everyone in the area.

In the mining town of Bindura, where Tsvangirai began his career as a mine foreman, 43 war veterans called for a meeting at Killstone Farm. The meeting was chaired by a retired army colonel known as Siya, who said it was impossible to convince the electorate to vote for the Kariba Draft and as a result it was necessary to use violence. The MDC say similar meetings are being held in all the country’s 10 provinces.,,,

Tsvangirai will discuss Zim with Libyan leader

from Reuters:

The MDC leader said he was going to Morocco for diplomatic engagements and would also meet Gaddafi, chairman of the African Union (AU), during his five-day trip to North Africa.

"The AU is one of the guarantors of the GPA (Global Political Agreement) so I am taking advantage of being in that region to brief the chairman of the AU on the developments in the country, what progress we are making and SADC's progress in dealing with the outstanding issues," he told journalists.

Political analysts say Tsvangirai's talks with the AU chairman will help him to maintain diplomatic pressure on Mugabe to honor the power-sharing agreement. Mugabe and Gaddafi have strong political ties.

Friday, November 20, 2009

China and African Science

from the Scientist

At the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Egypt, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao told attendees that the country would create a science and technology partnership with Africa, which would entail carrying out 100 joint research projects and training 100 African postdocs in China, reported the Chinese news agency Xinhua. Jiabao promised to provide $73 million worth of medical and research equipment to help improve health care and support malaria research. The country also highlighted the need for clean energy cooperation between the two regions, and said it would set up 100 clean energy projects on the continent.

The Chinese leader also promised to boost efforts already underway in Africa to build food security and increase agricultural research. Two years ago, China said it would build 10 multi-million-dollar Africa-based agricultural technology centers, but now says it will up that number to 20...

World Poverty Down: Except in Africa

the big question: Why does Africa lag behind Asia?

from SmartPlanet:

Perry adds that while the authors don’t explore the reasons for the record reduction in world poverty, much of this lifting of global growth can be attributed to globalization, market-based reforms, liberalization, Information Age technology, productivity gains in agriculture, and the collapse of central planning in China and India.”

The opportunities generated by the global economy are now reaching into every corner of the world. It’s smart business to recognize that both robust producer and consumer markets now exist across much of the world, and information technology brings these markets as close as if they were next door.....

Saturday, November 14, 2009

MDC says soldiers beat up orphans

from SWRadioAfrica:


The Changing Times newsletter spoke to Charles Ncube who runs the Thuthuka Orphanage, and he confirmed that soldiers wielding AK-47 rifles arrived in an army truck and forced their way into the premises. They accused authorities at the centre of habouring MDC activists.

But Ncube says they suspected that a ‘disgruntled’ soldier, named only as Tafadzwa, may have been behind the raid. Tafadzwa is said to have visited the orphanage trying ‘to propose love’ to a 15 year old girl at the centre but was turned away by authorities. He later returned with a dozen soldiers as reinforcements and they unleashed ‘an orgy of indiscriminate violence at the orphanage leaving scores of children nursing injuries,’ with 7 of them said to be in serious condition....

Bennett case

from the NYTimes

Lawyers for Roy Bennett, a leader in the opposition Movement for Democratic Change who faces terrorism charges, asked the trial judge, Chinembiri Bhunu, to recuse himself on the grounds that comments he made in a related 2006 case showed bias. In that case, against the man who is now the state’s key witness, and who says he was tortured to implicate Mr. Bennett, the judge denied bail and said there was “overwhelming evidence” against the man, who was later acquitted by a different judge.

Khama urges new elections to overcome impass


IN a state of the nation address on Friday, Botswana President Ian Khama said in Gaborone that if the political impasse in Zimbabwe cannot be resolved, the best solution is to hold fresh elections.

In the absence of genuine partnership, it would be better for all parties to return to the people. For they are the ultimate authority to determine who should form the Government of Zimbabwe, he said....

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Zim Union head arrested

from the times SA

Lovemore Matombo, president of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, and two of his colleagues, Michael Kandakutu and Percy Mcijo, were arrested in the north-western resort town of Victoria Falls on Sunday for "holding a meeting without notifying police," their lawyer, Kucaca Pulu, said.

Union officials said Matombo was arrested on the first stop of a tour of the country to consult with union members.

His is the latest in a series of arrests in the last three weeks that have included the heads of the country's umbrella organisation for civil society bodies, a senior human rights lawyer and an official from the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) official who was found to have been tortured. ..

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sokwanele: Violence in Zim

From ZigWatch (sokwanele)

October has been a month characterised by violence, lawlessness, corruption and the complete abuse of power for partisan and personal objectives. Despite Robert Mugabe’s outrageous claim to the contrary, Sokwanele has logged an incredible 3850 breaches of the GPA by Zanu PF since the start of the ZIG Watch project, making this party responsible for 88.8% of all breaches logged up until the end of October.

the article then gives details on retribution to Nestle for not buying Grace's milk, and the Roy Bennett case, and the deportation of the UN representative who was investigating torture.

Slap on the wrist for Zim's Blood diamonds

editorial at ALL

...Last week the Kimberley Process -- the name by which the initiative is popularly known -- convened a summit to try to convince Zimbabwe to suspend itself from membership of the process after the country's soldiers allegedly killed more than 200 miners in an operation to seize control of the Marange fields late last year.

But the summit's host government, Namibia -- unwilling to be perceived as a 'puppet of the West' -- would not stand up to the government of President Robert Mugabe, even though the credibility of the Kimberley Process depended on it. So the summit granted Zimbabwe eight months to sort itself out....

Saturday, November 07, 2009

The problem with NIgeria

Ralph Peters at the NYPost includes this snip about Nigeria in his column:

Nigeria: It ain't just about e-mail scams. Nigeria's one of the key oil producers on which our security and your daily commute depend. A government amnesty initiative for the rebels who've been attacking Niger Delta oil installations for years shows some promise of cooling the conflict. (There's been massive environmental damage, too -- where's the left's outrage?)

But big issues remain between the brutalized Christian tribes of Nigeria's oil states, who've seen their oil wealth stolen, and a thieving central government unjustly tilted toward the Muslim north. Nigeria's vastly more important to our well-being than Afghanistan, yet the crisis gets little coverage. Wouldn't want to offend any viciously corrupt Muslims . . .

Friday, November 06, 2009

Harare council police go on rampage

from SWRadioAfrica

. Problems started when a small group of council police officers went on the rampage at the terminus looking for illegal touts, people who ‘assist’ bus conductors and drivers to fill the vehicles with passengers...

Muchemwa said two truckloads of council police, numbering about 50, returned and ran around beating people, again randomly. He said they beat up almost everybody in sight, including some school children and the elderly. This incensed the public even more, resulting in the running battles, especially from many youths who pelted the police with stones in retaliation. Several people are said to have been injured and a number of commuter buses damaged....

Tsvangirai ends boycott

from AlJazeerah


Tsvangirai's decision on Thursday followed a meeting in Maputo, Mozambique, with members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

"We have suspended our disengagement from the GPA (Global Political Agreement) with immediate effect and we will give President Robert Mugabe 30 days to implement the agreement on the pertinent issues we are concerned about," he told reporters.

He said his return to the cabinet would give the southern African group time to mediate.

no mention of violence or jailing by the government...

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Grabbing up Africa's land

Via the Sydney Morning Herald (Australia):

...The food rights campaign officer for Action Aid, Alex Wijeratna, said: ''There's a new scramble for land in Africa. It's growing at an incredible rate. There's massive secrecy, poor communities can't get information and they're not being consulted....

Earlier this year the legendary speculator George Soros highlighted a new farmland-buying frenzy ... South Korea has bought huge areas of Madagascar, while Chinese interests have bought large swathes of Senegal to supply it with sesame.

''I'm convinced farmland is going to be one of the best investments of our time,'' Mr Soros said. ''Eventually … the bull market will end. But that's a long ways away yet.''

I'm not sure what to make of all of this: foreign investment and agribusiness is a no no to greens and local small farmers, but without agribusiness and modern techniques, Africa will continue to main question is if the aim is to sell to locals and make a profit or to export it while locals starve...

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Regional summit set for Thursday

the AP reports that there will be a regional summit on Thursday, of the Southern African Development Community. including South Africa, Mozambique, Swaziland and Zambia,

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Timid SADC can learn from ECOWAS

from Nehanda Radio\\.

Even as he headed for South Africa for the first in a series of meetings he hopes to hold with regional leaders, Tsvangirai would have known that there was no hope of the Southern African Development Community adopting a stance against Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe as tough as the one taken by Ecowas on Saturday against the leaders of Guinea and Niger.

In case you have missed your continental news, here is an update: Following the massacre of, reportedly, more than 150 people at an opposition rally in Guinea last month, Ecowas convened an emergency summit in Abuja on Friday.... the Ecowas meeting was no talking-shop.

West African leaders, headed by Nigeria’s Umaru Yar’adua, reacted by slapping Captain Moussa Dadis Camara’s regime with an arms embargo.

They also mandated Yar’Adua to lobby the African Union, the European Union and other international bodies to do the same.

In a statement issued after the summit, Ecowas described the state-sponsored violence in Guinea as a “real threat to the peace, security and stability” of the entire West African region...

Despite calls for help from a desperate MDC, the SADC has done very little to ensure that Mugabe meets his end of the bargain.

Mugabe faces losing gem lifeline

from the UKGuardian

Members of the international diamond watchdog, the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), will consider suspending Zimbabwe for at least six months at a four-day meeting after a working party investigated the Chiadzwa fields in the east of the country.

A suspension would in effect stop the Zimbabwean government importing and exporting rough diamonds. However, the scheme is voluntary and the Zimbabwean authorities would be required to enforce it – the same authorities that are said to be heavily involved in illegal smuggling and violence at the mines.

Perhaps more importantly, a suspension would also put the onus on reputable traders and governments not to buy Zimbabwean diamonds,...

The government sent in troops in October last year after thousands of people descended on the site in a modern-day diamond rush. Soldiers beat and killed illegal panners as helicopters hovered above, shooting at miners.

Since then, the military has thrown a huge cordon round the site and is accused of using local people as virtual slaves to dig up the diamonds, which are then smuggled out of the country.

and to make things worse, the UK owners just won a court case when they asked for their mine back
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