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4241mostly Zim news

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  • Christine Chumbler
    Jun 15, 2004
      Mugabe 'snubs' to top food aid official


      15 June 2004 14:16

      A visit to Zimbabwe scheduled for Tuesday by James Morris, the United Nation's top food aid official, has been called off, UN officials said, in a sign of worsening relations between President Robert Mugabe's government and the world body.

      James Morris, executive director of the World Food Programme, had Zimbabwe on his itinerary for a visit arranged months ago to five Southern African countries, but a UN spokesperson in Harare said on Tuesday the visit had been "postponed".

      "Unfortunately, due to a cabinet meeting, no government officials are likely to be able to meet with the special envoy," the spokesperson said.

      Meetings with "key government representatives" were an essential part of its consultations in Zimbabwe. Morris, also UN secretary-general Kofi Annan's special humanitarian envoy to Southern Africa, would be going to Malawi on Tuesday instead.

      "It's a deliberate snub," said a Western diplomat. "Zimbabwe had agreed to the visit, and Morris was set down to see Mugabe. Late last week, they changed their minds."

      The calling off of Morris' visit occurred amid controversy over the government's refusal to allow UN famine relief operations to continue for the third year in a row this year, despite widespread forecasts that crop output would again fall far below the volume needed to feed the country's 12-million people.

      Last month, Mugabe said the UN was "foisting" food on the country.

      "We are not hungry," he said. "We don't want to be choked."

      Since 2002, the United Nations has helped avert massive starvation as it delivered food to up to five million people at a time. Zimbabwe was Africa's second biggest food producer, after South Africa, until 2000 when the country's agricultural industry began to collapse as a result of the illegal, violent state seizure of nearly all of the highly productive farmland owned by white farmers. - Sapa-DPA


      Zimbabwe factions fight over farms

      15 June 2004 07:27

      Jonathan Moyo, Zimbabwe's information minister, denied on Monday that Robert Mugabe intended to nationalise all farmland, saying the policy only applied to plots seized from whites.

      His statement contradicted that of John Nkomo, the land reform and resettlement minister, who last week said the state would nationalise all agricultural land.

      Nkomo said Mugabe's government would issue 99-year leases for farmland and 25-year leases for wildlife and conservation areas.

      On Monday, Moyo said nationalisation "only applies to land acquired by the state under land reforms and does not in any way invalidate or supersede other lawful forms of tenure".

      His statement suggests factions within Mugabe's government are vying with each other over land policy.

      In addition to publicly correcting Nkomo, Moyo recently lost a very public battle with another leading official.

      Confusion has often surrounded Mugabe's land seizures, with the government saying one thing but doing another.

      Only 10% of farmland is in private hands but it includes large plantations growing tea, timber and sugar. Although Mugabe declared last year that land seizures had ended, the government has taken over more than 900 properties this year.

      At Easter it took over Kondozi farm, a large business owned by a prominent black businessman, which grows and exports vegetables and fruits to British retailers including Tesco in contracts worth millions of pounds.

      State agents invaded the farm, throwing 4 500 workers out of their homes.

      The owner announced last week that he would move his business to Mozambique and Zambia. - Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004


      Couple beaten by mob


      15 June 2004 07:27

      A Finnish woman and her white Zimbabwean husband, both in their fifties, narrowly escaped with their lives on Monday after a savage beating by President Robert Mugabe's youth militia using iron bars and rocks to try and force them out of the village they live in.

      Birgit Kidd said the mob of youths, led by secret police, attacked her and her husband, Shane, both active supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, when they were trying to assert a court order allowing them to return to the party's office on Monday in the picturesque tourist village of Chimanimani in Zimbabwe's south-eastern districts.

      Kidd said an attempt was made to burn down the MDC office, in a building which the couple own, three weeks ago.

      Speaking from her hospital bed in the neighbouring town of Chipinge, she said she had a dislocated shoulder where she had been hit with an iron bar, 15 stitches to wounds in her head where the youths threw rocks at her and bruises all over her body.

      Her husband was bleeding from the ears, mouth and lips and also suffered multiple bruises. "I thought I was going to lose my life," she said. "Everything that was available they were throwing at us. They were trying to finish Shane off with a huge rock. They were shouting at us they were going to kill us.

      "We have done nothing wrong. We [the MDC] don't beat anyone, we don't rape anyone, we don't burn anyone's houses."

      The incident was the latest in a five-year reign of violence and terror controlled by Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party in the Chimanimani area.

      The election of a popular white farmer, Roy Bennett, in 2000 triggered a backlash directed against MDC supporters. - Sapa-DPA


      Uganda Distributes Free Generic AIDS Drugs

      The Associated Press
      Monday, June 14, 2004; 11:07 AM

      KAMPALA, Uganda - Uganda on Monday began distributing free generic HIV drugs in a program aimed at treating all of the country's estimated 100,000 people living with AIDS. The distribution makes Uganda only the second country in Africa to do so, the health minister said.

      Vans carried $1.3 million worth of anti-retroviral drugs to 23 health centers, government and church-run hospitals around Uganda for the first 2,700 HIV-infected people to be treated under the program, Health Minister Jim Muhwezi said.

      "Today, we are beginning to give people free treatment. We think we will cover everybody because. ...We are getting the money to do the work...(and) the prices of the drugs are getting lower and are not moving upward," Muhwezi told The Associated Press.

      He said the United Nations' Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria will give Uganda $70 million over five years to fund the program. Uganda also expects funding from the U.S. government, which has pledged $15 billion over five years to finance the global fight against AIDS in 14 African and Caribbean countries.

      Uganda has waged one of the world's most successful battles against the spread of HIV, bringing the infection rate down from more than 30 percent in the early 1990s to around 6 percent of the country's 25 million people last year.

      So far Botswana is the only African country to guarantee free AIDS treatment to all who need it, even though they are the more expensive brand-name drugs.

      South Africa approved its own program late last year, but says it will take five years to reach all the patients who qualify for treatment.

      Several African countries have programs that covers only HIV-positive pregnant women. They receive nevirapine, a drug that helps prevent transmission of the virus that causes AIDS from mother to child, for free.
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