Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Jestina Mukoko: a picture is worth 1000 words

Jestina Mukoko, arriving at court in December 2008

Photo from Sokanele website prior to her arrest and imprisonment

Jestina Mukoko exonerated

from the NYTimes

JOHANNESBURG — Zimbabwe’s Supreme Court tossed out terrorism charges against the prominent human rights activist Jestina Mukoko on Monday, ruling that she herself had been terrorized when state security agents abducted and tortured her....

She is a human rights activist who documented the terror by Mugabe's thugs against civilians and political opponants.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Illegal mines

fromthe sunday Mail.
Go to article and read since I don't have time to the previous article, the government is trying to steal these mines from those who own them but are not using them, but illegal mining destroys the environment, encourages crime, and is dangerous to those doing the work.


A visit to the Midlands last week revealed that more than 300 illegal gold panners were mining gold freely in the Camperdown mines in Shurugwi.
Irked by the influx of the illegal panners, police in Shurugwi wrote to the chief mining commissioner informing him of the situation.
“The mine (name supplied) ceased operations in October 2008 and this has resulted in areas such as Camperdown being infested by illegal gold panners numbering around 200 at any given time,” reads part of the letter written by the police to the chief mining commissioner.
Concerns were also raised that the more than 30 kilogrammes of gold that the panners were getting per month from the claims was being sold on the black market with the Government getting nothing.

Grace's Farm

from the UKTelegraph

Robert Mugabe's wife, Grace, who has taken over at least six of Zimbabwe's most valuable white-owned farms since 2002, sells up to a million litres of milk a year to Nestlé, The Sunday Telegraph can disclose.

This goes against the sanction laws of course.
And she actually visits her main farm to make sure it is producing some milk


Mrs Mugabe has built a new residence on the farm, remodelled the original farmhouse and constructed an office block, workers said. The dairy produces 6,500 litres of milk a day, The Herald has said, which is only about 35 per cent of its output under the previous owner, who produced 6.5 million litres a year, more than any other dairy in Zimbabwe.

How does Nestle get around the sanctions? They buy it on the open market, they don't have a contract with her...

Nestlé said: "During the recent crisis Nestlé has not considered moving its operations out of the country. By providing basic food products to Zimbabwean consumers, Nestlé aims to meet the needs of the local population, many of whom are vulnerable and disadvantaged."

The company's code of conduct, according to its website, states: "We condemn any form of bribery and corruption." It also says that Nestlé "supports and respects the protection of international human rights", and adds that its suppliers should also adhere to its code.

Asked to explain its dealings with Mrs Mugabe in that context, it said: "Nestlé does not provide any support, financial or otherwise, to the Gushungo Dairy Estate or to any political party in Zimbabwe.

Nigeria bans South African film

from io9blog

Allegations of racism against Neill Blomkamp's movie have been flying since its release, but this new move from the Nigerian government raises the stakes significantly. Information Minister Dora Akunyili explained her problems with the movie:

We feel very bad about this because the film clearly denigrated Nigeria's image by portraying us as if we are cannibals, we are criminals... The name [of] our former president was clearly spelt out as the head of the criminal gang and our ladies shown like prostitutes sleeping with extra-terrestrial beings...

(actually the director made the Nigerians the minor bad guys to mirror the Nigerian gangs in Joburg; the main bad guys are the white industrialists)
The metaphor being criticized in the movie, of course, is the huge influx of refugees from Zimbabwe and the earlier apartheid laws that kept Africans from integrating with society as inferior beings.

related article from AllAfrica:

19 May 2008, SWRadioAfrica:

The xenophobic attacks on foreigners, including Zimbabweans, that left 3 dead in Alexandra township last week have now claimed over 20 lives after the gangs moved into other areas of Johannesburg over the weekend.

The violence has continued to escalate and more fatal attacks were reported Monday. In the last 3 days hundreds have been injured, thousands left homeless and many raped as the attacks on foreigners spread to the whole of the Johannesburg area, including Germiston, Alexandra, Hillbrow, Ekurhuleni in Boksburg, Thembisa, Thokoza and the Eastrand area...

Zimbabwean organizations based in South Africa have blamed President Mbeki and the South African government for doing nothing, for too long. South Africa's own civil organizations have also pointed to the official policy as contributing to the divisions.

The Zimbabwe Exiles Forum released a statement that said: "There is a pattern to this, and senior government officials who suggest that foreigners are to blame for unemployment, crime and HIV-AIDS do not help the situation, and should be brought to account for their incitement to hatred. Equally responsible are sections of the media that are known to government, and have been writing inflammatory first page editorials against so-called 'aliens'.".....

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Violence on the rise especially in rural areas

from SWRadioAfrica

ZANU PF militia have begun a fresh wave of violence, especially in the rural areas, according to a statement issued by the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition...

Those being targeted include members of civil society and MDC supporters. ...

The notorious militia, soldiers and ZANU PF members are said to be behind this latest victimisation campaign.

The pressure group said reports from Chiweshe’s Chaona area named ZANU PF supporters who are terrorising MDC activists, and telling villagers that the coalition government is ‘only functional in Harare’, not in the rural areas, and demanding that MDC supporters surrender their membership cards....

Elderly woman killed in demonstration

from SWRadioAfrica

A seventy-year old Harare woman was killed on Monday when informal traders demonstrating against the closure of market stalls in Mbare were stoned by a group of rowdy youths. Martha Chitambira is reported to have taken part in a demonstration led by the Zimbabwe Home Industries and Markets Association. Unidentified youths, suspected of trying to take advantage of the protest and steal from the protestors, then threw stones at their victims. Chitambira sustained head injuries and died on admission at Harare Hospital...

go to article...some big shots are getting the stands and subletting them for a huge profit to poor vendors.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Kingdom warns Biti on IMF loan

from NewZimbabwe:

FINANCE Minister Tendai Biti’s decision to delay the distribution of a US$510 million loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) until a new budget will slow down the pace of economic recovery, a leading financial institution said Tuesday....

something is behind all of this, but I'm not sure what...anyone out there know?

WOZA protesters beaten by police

from SWRadioAfrica

Scores of activists from the pressure group Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA/MOZA) were brutally assaulted by riot police, during demonstrations to commemorate the United Nations International Day of Peace in Bulawayo on Tuesday. One of the WOZA leaders, Magodonga Mahlangu, said their theme was that social justice brings peace of mind and they were trying to highlight what they see as ‘empty promises’ by the inclusive government. She said the police were vicious in their response....

Speaking to SW Radio Africa Mahlangu said over 20 of their members had to seek medical treatment after the police beatings.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Swine flu hits Zimbabwe

from the VOA

The World Health Organization has confirmed 12 new cases of the H1N1 or swine flu have developed in Zimbabwe. The United Nations agency, working with the Ministry of Health, said laboratory tests conducted in South Africa confirmed an H1N1 diagnosis in those cases.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sci fi in South Africa

from reuters Africa

Africa Blog

African business, politics and lifestyle

05:02 September 7th, 2009

South African sci-fi

Posted by: Giles Elgood
Tags: Africa Blog, , , , , , , , ,

There has been some excellent writing and drama from South Africa over the years, and much of it is serious stuff.

One thinks perhaps of Athol Fugard and J.M. Coetzee. Even the titles — Sizwe Bansi is Dead and Disgrace — convey a certain gravitas, at the very least.

So, a science fiction movie set in Johannesburg comes, to many outside South Africa at least, as something of a surprise.

For those who haven’t seen it, South African-born director Neill Blomkamp’s District 9 is the story of how a mysterious space craft appears over Johannesburg.

It turns out to contain starving aliens, referred to scathingly as “prawns”, who are brought down to the city and housed in an enormous and chaotic shanty ghetto...

It’s also pretty funny as it satirises just about everybody — the bureaucrats given the task of evicting the prawns from District 9, the soldiers who have to be restrained from shooting them, the Nigerian bandits who exploit them ruthlessly and the unfortunate prawns themselves, who are addicted to cat food.

But of course it’s not all sci-fi fun. This being South Africa, audiences are also asked to consider more ponderous questions that relate to the country’s racial history and also how to deal with “aliens” who suddenly appear on the doorstep after being afflicted by some crisis at home — something the South African government has had to contend with in recent years as Zimbabwe has imploded, forcing millions across the border....

PM hits out at Mugabe

from AlJazeera

"I am not going to stand by while Zanu-PF continues to violate the law, persecutes our members of parliament, spreads the language of hate, invades our productive farms, ignores our international treaties," he said.

"We want partners that are sincere. We want partners who are going to commit themselves to good governance principles. We cannot have partners of looters."

Improving conditions

Tsvangirai joined Mugabe in a unity government in February in a bid to end political unrest that erupted after last year's disputed elections and things have improved in the past few months.

Al Jazeera's Haru Mutasa, reporting from the capital, Harare, said "compared to December last year, when things were really bad in the country ... there's now food in the shops - it's expensive, but at least people can afford it"....

Monday, September 14, 2009

Green revolution take two

Norman Borlaug RIP

Norman Borlaug, the plant scientist who started the green revolution, has died.

How many people on earth can be credited with saving hundreds of millions from starvation? Yet he is less known than the average sports star.

One thing greatly needed in Africa is to implement the green revolution, similar to how it was implemented in Asia...

As Scientific American magazine points out, what stands in the way is a lack of money to buy good seed, fertilizer, and of course an infrastructure that allows them to sell part of their crop for a profit.

They also recommend this:

Here are bold but realistic goals that Africa and its donor partners can adopt: to double grain yields in Africa by 2012, to graduate at least three quarters of African smallholder farm households from subsistence to commercial farming within a decade, and to expand nutrition programs alongside increased food production to cut the ranks of the hungry by at least half by 2015.

Mugabe is alas doing the exact opposite...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

EU seeks to renew Zim ties

from the BBC:

....The EU's aid commissioner and a Swedish minister will head the EU team.

EU officials stress that it is far too soon to talk about lifting sanctions immediately. They say it is just a preparatory visit, to re-establish a political dialogue. ...
it is mindful that President Mugabe has still not fulfilled all his promises to end harassment of the opposition, and to respect human rights, the BBC's Peter Nettleship reports....

South African leadesr ask Zim sanctions be lifted

from the BBC:

....The leaders, from regional bloc Sadc, said Zimbabwe had made enough progress in putting together a unity government.

Analysts say Sadc's call is a victory for Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who has long argued against sanctions.

Rights groups say removing sanctions now would benefit the very people the measures were meant to punish. ...

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Mugabe's slight of hand

Amnesty International via the Huffington Post:

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights recently reported that President Mugabe did not sign the Global Political Agreement (GPA). Well, he signed half of it.

Parliement passed a 36 page document, and Mugabe signed an 18 page document, essentially meaning that it's not legal.

ZANU-PF's withdrawal from the SADC Tribunal and the failure to sign all pages of the GPA are essentially contract disputes and there is no applicable court to turn where a judge can decide which terms apply and should be enforced. Instead, the judge is SADC, who must remove the blinders of reverence towards a one time freedom fighter and see him as the leader of a party of freedom oppressors. SADC announced today it will convene an extraordinary summit in three weeks to address the outstanding issues surrounding the GPA and it must force a resolution on both these concerns.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Zuma in power share plea

from the BBC:

South African President Jacob Zuma has asked Zimbabwe's political parties to remove any obstacles to implementing their political agreement.

He was speaking at a two-day meeting of Sadc, the southern African regional organisation, in DR Congo....

Our correspondent says the MDC is concerned about the pace of political reform, alleged human rights abuses and appointments of key positions in the legal system and central bank.

She also says Mr Mugabe wants Sadc to campaign for the lifting of economic sanctions against Zimbabwe....

Monday, September 07, 2009

Tough Zim farm family etc etc

From the LATimes, a tear jerker story about a white farmer.

Yes, I know: Rule of law.

But who mourned when black farmers were displaced and moved to a lower altitude area, and many of them died of malaria fifty years ago?

I oppose the land reform because they are doing it wrong, not because I mourn white farmers whose little dogs are killed when some thugs burn down their homes.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

How real is the movie "District Nine"?

The Christian Science Monitor reviews the movie "District nine" from a South African's point of view. since I haven't seen the movie, I have no comments..

...But District 9 is really a piece of social commentary. It portrays modern post-apartheid South Africa, with all the modern trappings of normal suburban life for a select few, living side-by-side with a Mad Max world of poverty, inhabited by teeming millions of poorer folk, immigrants, and yes, extraterrestrial aliens who look rather like prawns....

The manner in which South African society treats these newcomers – in this movie, yes, but something also echoed in horrific xenophobic riots in May 2008 that killed more than 100 – shows that the much vaunted “Rainbow Nation” is still very much an ideal.

... 15 years after apartheid. The black majority may now have power, and the white technocrat minority seems to have found a place for itself, but both groups have teamed up to wield their power against a new enemy: immigrants.

The plot of District 9 follows a rather nerdy bureaucrat named Wikus Van der Merwe, who has been given the task of going door to door with armed guards in a slum called District 9, where the extraterrestrial prawns are scratching out an existence that Charles Dickens couldn’t have imagined. Wikus – who is followed by a camera crew, in faux documentary style – remains the quintessential South African law-enforcement agent, determined that every alien he meets must sign a paper agreeing to move out of their shacks to another encampment far off.

It is in these scenes – and in Wikus’s contacts with the violent Nigerian gangs that control the markets in District 9 – that District 9 rises above a simple shoot-em-up into social commentary.

When Wikus shows off his professional bureaucratic finesse in front of the camera, asking an alien to sign a document – with his tentacle-like hand – he’s showing that South Africa is a civilized country with rules. But when Wikus chatters, between raids, about the filthy habits of the aliens and their strange appetites for cat food, we see the racism that South Africans – black and white alike – have for Africans from other countries....

Is Mugabe losing control of Zimbabwe?

From ABC news (US)

A civil court case, launched by a Zimbabwean businessman to get back assets that were nationalized under Mugabe's government, raises serious questions about who really controls the levers of power in Zimbabwe today and whether any promises made by Mugabe would be honored by the ministers and generals in his own government.

Documents – including private cellphone text messages from senior Mugabe ministers – obtained by the Monitor from public court records in the case brought by businessman Mutumwa Mawere in the Zimbabwe Supreme Court in Harare, indicate that the authority of the 85-year-old Mugabe is being directly undermined by two of his closest confidants, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and Defense Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa. ...

go to link...the article is too long to excerpt..

the reporter wonders if Mugabe is only a front man for Mnangagwa or others in the ZANU PF...

Zim (state owned) media threatens gov't says Tsvangirai

from Bloomberg news:

Sept. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Zimbabwe’s state media is publishing “vicious propaganda” that threatens the country’s power-sharing government, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said.

“The political climate continues to be marred by unfortunate and vicious propaganda that emanates from the state media,” Tsvangirai said in a statement marking the first anniversary of the power-sharing agreement. It “presents a real and credible threat to this inclusive government and its ability to impact positively on the lives of all Zimbabweans.”

MDC lawmakers continue to be persecuted and prosecuted through a “selective application of the rule of law,” Tsvangirai said in his statement. There is a “deliberately slow pace” to improving human rights, he added.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Andrew Young to be honored

from America gov via All Africa:

Ambassador Andrew Young will be awarded a lifetime achievement award at the Corporate Council on Africa's seventh biennial U.S.-Africa Business Summit, to be held in Washington September 29 to October 1.

"Ambassador Young is and has been an advocate of human rights and humanitarian issues as well as dedicated to promoting economic prosperity in Africa," said Stephen Hayes, president and chief executive of the Corporate Council on Africa, in a September 3 statement announcing the award. "We are grateful for the opportunity to honor the commitment he has shown to Africa throughout his career."

Established in 1993, the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) works to strengthen and facilitate commercial relationships between the United States and the African continent. CCA works closely with governments, multilateral groups and businesses to improve the African continent's trade and investment climate, and to raise the profile of Africa in the U.S. business community...

Young is also co-chairman of GoodWorks International, a for-profit consulting firm built on the belief that the private sector can promote initiatives that support education, social advancement, economic development and capacity building in Africa and the Caribbean. He travels often to Africa, fostering partnerships that benefit the communities in which they operate. In 2008, the GoodWorks Foundation partnered with the Wanawake na Maendeleo Foundation to award educational scholarships in Tanzania.

Young's commitment to education and global service is evident at Georgia State University's Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, which was created to carry on the legacy of Young's ideals through programs he believes will "level the playing field" for the world's poor.

The scholars and researchers at the school operate on the principle that the key to ending poverty is building strong national economies. They, like Young, who occasionally teaches at the school, work to bring economic well-being to developing nations in Africa.

Zim receives boost from IMF

from the BBC

The International Monetary Fund is giving Zimbabwe $400m to boost its foreign currency reserves.

However, a further $100m will be kept in a special account and Zimbabwe's government will not have access to it until it has cleared $1bn in debts.

Zimbabwe is in dire need of cash to rebuild its battered economy.

BBC Southern Africa correspondent Karen Allen says Zimbabwe's financial crisis has been partially blamed on mismanagement of central bank funds. ...

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Zim to free 1500prisoners

via the earth times

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Harare - Zimbabwe's coalition government is shortly to free more than 1,500 prisoners in a bid to ease the crisis in the country's crowded jails that have become known as "death camps," reports said Wednesday. The crisis was exposed in April when documentary video footage showed half-naked, skeletal inmates wasting away from hunger and diseases in the country's 42 jails, as prison authorities ran out of money for rations and drugs....
Large-scale amnesties are dreaded by ordinary Zimbabweans as they are followed invariably by sudden waves of crime.

Zim pulls out of SADC tribunal

from SWRadioAfrica

Zimbabwe has pulled out of the SADC Tribunal, claiming the regional court has not been properly constituted and that the country will no longer take part in, or respect, any decisions from the Tribunal. The withdrawal of Zimbabwe from the SADC jurisdiction is a major blow to 79 white commercial farmers who had won their cases in the regional court, blocking the government from acquiring their farms. The government now says any decisions that the Tribunal may have made, or may make in future about Zimbabwe are null and void....

Arnold Tsunga, the Africa Director of the International Commission of Jurists, believes it’s the reaction of one component of the government, namely ZANU PF, which has a culture of not wanting effective checks and balances. “It is not surprisingly that they reacted adversely to the SADC Tribunal as a judicial organ, because of the fact that it has been able to render independent, impartial, fearless and fair decisions in disputes that have been brought before it that involve Zimbabwe.”

The rights lawyer also said that in terms of the law it is not supportable for the government of Zimbabwe to adopt this position, saying: “This is because of the fact that the SADC tribunal is a creature of the SADC treaty and, I think, in terms of Section 16 of the SADC treaty, the establishment of a SADC tribunal is actually provided for within the main SADC treaty itself, to which Zimbabwe is still a party.”

According to Tsunga ‘there is no way that Zimbabwe can pull out of the SADC tribunal without pulling out of the SADC treaty which creates the SADC community of states.’
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