- Zimbabwe accuses international group of
August 1, 2001 Posted: 12:57 PM EDT (1657 GMT)
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- Zimbabwe called an international press
freedom group ignorant and biased Wednesday for criticizing proposed
In a letter to The World Press Freedom Committee in Reston, Virginia,
Information Minister Jonathan Moyo said the group had a "partisan intention" to
spread falsehoods and entrench international confusion over conditions in
The group had said the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Bill
due for debate in Parliament was an attempt to assert government control over
access to news and information.
That "does not deserve to be taken seriously beyond cheap politicking by your
organization that, with its so-called anti-communist role during the Cold War, is
now well known for supporting partisan geopolitical interests on behalf of
Western governments," Moyo wrote to Marilyn Greene, the World Press
Freedom Committee's executive director.
The government has said the bill is intended only to instill a code of ethics in the
local media but has refused to release details of its provision until it is presented
With support declining during a crushing economic crisis, the government has
been stung by outspoken criticism by a handful of fiercely independent
Independent journalists, who have been attacked by ruling party militants and
verbally abused by senior government officials in public, say the bill is an
attempt to muzzle them and introduce penalties against them.
The government had also used criminal defamation suits to try to silence media
critics and failed to condemn or fully investigate bomb attacks on The Daily
News, Zimbabwe's only independent daily newspaper, it said.
The government controls two main daily newspapers and four weeklies. It has
banned independent radio stations to uphold the longtime monopoly of the state
Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corp., a move seen as particularly critical ahead of
presidenti al elections that must be held by early next year.
Zimbabwe loses another
Another High Court judge in Zimbabwe has
resigned from the bench, the third to do so
In a letter to President Robert Mugabe, Judge
Michael Gillespie said he regretted the
circumstances that constrained him from
continuing in office but gave no further details.
Correspondents say the judiciary appears to be
losing its independence after the authorities
flouted several of its rulings against land
invasions carried out by government
supporters. Last week President Mugabe
appointed three more judges to the High Court,
a move the opposition said was intended to
increase his government's influence in the
And a follow-up...
Nigeria: Space plan aimed at satellites,
August 1, 2001 Posted: 12:42 PM EDT (1642 GMT)
LAGOS, Nigeria (Reuters) -- President Olusegun Obasanjo has said
Nigeria's new space agency, dismissed by critics as a joke, does not aim to
land a Nigerian on the moon but to develop its own satellite technology
and identify areas for mining.
Nigeria plans to use advances in remote sensing, weather forecasting and
satellite communications "for the exploration and exploitation of our mineral
resources, and the development of information and communication
technologies," the semi-official Daily Times quoted Obasanjo as saying.
He made his remarks at the inauguration of Nigeria's Honorary Presidential
Advisory Council on Science and Technology on Tuesday, a day after the space
program was criticized by the Financial Times of London.
An FT editorial faulted Nigeria for earmarking nearly $100 million for the space
program after missing most economic reform targets set by the International
- Some amazing pictures of the volcanic eruption in eastern DRC.
By Christine Otien in Dar es Salaam
President Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania has
announced the formation of a body to
investigate the killings of opposition
demonstrators in Zanzibar.
The government says that a total of 27 people
died during a police break up of a political
demonstration last year.
Mr Mkapa's announcement of the inquiry
commission late Wednesday night came as a
surprise, just 10 days before the first
anniversary of the deaths.
People, generally, have expressed pleasure at
the president's move despite the lateness of
the setting up of the probing body.
"He is right to set up this commission up".
"But I have no
confidence in (the
force are responsible
for those killings".
"And Mr Mkapa
appoints the members
of the commission".
"Do you think it's going
to be fair?" asks a Dar
es Salaam resident.
He told me that he would like members of the
opposition parties included in the commission.
One woman told me that she thinks that the
president's decision demonstrates that "our
government cares for the people".
"At least people will know the truth".
One group that should be happy with the
formation of the deaths inquiry commission is
the Civic United Front (CUF) party.
Their supporters were the ones who clashed
with the police during the street violence in
The CUF chairman, Professor Ibrahim Lipumba,
explains how the party have received the
"It has been received
very well in that it was
"It was agreed in a
(the ruling party) CCM
and CUF that an
probe the events leading to the killings".
However, Professor Lipumba has some
"The only problem I have is the composition of
"This is a legal matter and should involve legal
He points out that where laws have been
broken legal bodies should deal with the
"But this is not the case with this commission.
So I am upset about that".
Another issue that is a contention is the
number of people actually killed.
The government maintains 27 people died but
CUF have a different figure.
says, "From our reports
from the communities
that were affected, we
think that more than
70 people died during
"So that is one area we
hope the probe team
will work on - to get to
The man the President
has charged with
heading this commission is retired Brigadier
General Hashim Mbita.
His credentials include being a former
executive secretary of the Liberation
Committee of the Organisation of African Unity.
I'm not sure about the 3rd paragraph in this story but...
Mugabe walks tall in
By the BBC's Hilary Andersson
Malawi is an African Garden of Eden. Every
afternoon there are spectacular downpours,
which replenish the long grasses on the lush
green hills that surround Blantyre.
The streets of this tiny town are lined with
giant African trees with branches that lean
across entire roads giving shade.
Here people are armed
not with guns, but
umbrellas - and you can
walk around the darkest
street at night and still
It is a fitting retreat for
Africa's leaders to gather, and talk about the
violence plaguing the region.
And the Malawians did all they could to make
their neighbouring presidents feel welcome.
If Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's president, is
rapidly turning into an international pariah, you
would never have guessed it.
When he stepped off the plane, he was
greeted by rows of Malawian soldiers clad in
bright red dress uniforms, complete with
shining silver swords.
They marched - as
hundreds of singers
and dancers sang
praises and tributes. I
remembered how much
in Africa age and
status really matter.
Robert Mugabe is seen
here as one of the
fathers of African
politics. He has been in
power for more than 20
years - and you can
He walked through the crowds, his face
hardened into an expression of determination
and focus. His posture was straight, exuding
the personality of a man who is not used to
being questioned or challenged.
But this was not an easy trip for him. His
problems began at the opening ceremony, held
in a huge marquee. The pastor prayed for
peace in Zimbabwe. Other leaders squeezed
shut their eyes, but Robert Mugabe, clearly
uncomfortable, kept his open and his face as
expressionless as steel.
And what with all the nerves and ceremony,
no-one seemed to notice that the beautifully
disguised podium on which the heads of state
sat was actually the edge of the hotel
swimming pool - the press area gallery was
built on the diving board, and the assembled
guests sat more or less in the pool itself.
The culture in this part of the world is to talk
problems out or fight them out - you're either
friends or enemies. So the question of imposing
sanctions on Zimbabwe was ruled out from the
But the leaders met for
many long hours behind
closed doors, and -
undoubtedly to Mr
Mugabe's horror - the
situation in Zimbabwe
was put on the same
footing as the conflicts
in Angola and the
He burst out of the
summit before anyone
else, with his band of
security guards, and
skipped up the stairs in a gesture of relief that
it was over at last.
He was then mobbed by the press. The
security guards grabbed the BBC cameraman
by his belt, and held him firmly at arms length,
whilst their elbows ploughed into our stomachs
Most of the international press, and the BBC,
are banned from Zimbabwe. This was a rare
chance to ask him a question.
Was Zimbabwe criticised on its human rights
record, I asked? Britain was criticised by
Zimbabwe, he snapped back.
Robert Mugabe has blamed his growing
international isolation on a colonial-style
campaign by Britain. That's why any criticism
by his African brothers was so painful, even if
it was mild.
In the end, the summit
from Robert Mugabe of
free and fair elections,
and promises to respect
the rule of law. But no
mechanism was created
to make sure the
promises were kept.
These promises have been made before, and
they didn't stop President Mugabe from
introducing draconian legislation that
effectively criminalises criticism of him in the
run-up to the voting - legislation that makes it
easier for him to win.
While the African leaders were pledging their
allegiance to the principles of democracy, the
Malawian security forces barged into a hotel in
Blantyre, and threw four Zimbabwean
pro-democracy activists into police cells. They
were deported the very next morning.
A man very close to Malawi's president
confided in me casually that he had great
sympathy for Robert Mugabe, what with the
opposition threatening to topple him and all.
And he was pleased the army has weighed in
on the Zimbabwean president's side.
Until recently Zimbabwe was an impressive
country. It had a thriving tourism industry, and
it fed its own people. Now it is plagued by
violence, and threatens to disrupt the entire
Africa is already a region that's been left
behind, as the rest of the world forges ahead
with the technological revolution.
Its people suffer and its leaders know that one
of the major reasons for this is political
instability. But they do not seem prepared to
do much about it.
The tragedy in Zimbabwe has awful
implications for Zimbabweans, but it also sets
a truly frightening example for the new
generation of Africa's democratically-elected
If President Mugabe can get away with
elections set on his own terms, then why can't
Mugabe charms SADC
With less than two months to go before the
elections in Zimbabwe, commentators in the
African media are not surprised that
developments in Harare weighed heavily on the
minds of southern African regional leaders.
The presidents of the 14-member Southern
African Development Community (SADC) were
meeting in Blantyre, Malawi, to try to find
ways of addressing ongoing insecurity and
conflict problems the region, particularly the
civil wars in Angola and the Democratic
Republic of Congo.
But with President Robert Mugabe's
government tabling controversial security
legislation in parliament as the summit got
under way, it was perhaps inevitable that
much of the regional leaders' attention was
drawn to Zimbabwe.
The Star, published in Johannesburg, believes
Mr Mugabe got off lightly with his reassurances
to his fellow African presidents.
"We accept that the
SADC leaders are
men," the paper says,
"but we find ourselves
very much surprised
that they have
Mugabe's bona fides."
Mr Mugabe's promises in Blantyre to ensure full
respect for human rights and a commitment to
freedom of expression could "easily be watered
"We hope that, come the March 9 and 10
presidential election in Zimbabwe, the SADC
leaders don't find themselves with so much egg
on the face that they can make breakfast for
the whole world," The Star says.
Britain, MDC "in cahoots"
Zimbabwe's pro-government The Herald notes
that the communique issued after the summit
"criticised negative media reports on Zimbabwe
by some sections of the so-called independent
press in South Africa, Zimbabwe and the
"It is apparent that the South Africans and the
British are working in cahoots with some
elements in the opposition press in the country
and those in the MDC," the paper comments.
In the South African
capital, the Pretoria
News has little time for
what it calls the SADC
hostile propaganda and
negative media reports.
"Mugabe has a choke
hold on Zimbabwe's
electronic media and
his thugs have actually
blown up the opposition newspaper's printing
press," the paper says.
The passing into law a few days earlier of
extra security legislation by parliament is
described by The Daily News in Harare as "a
dark period in the history of Zimbabwe".
The Public Order and Security Bill and the
Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Bill are "odious pieces of legislation
which seek to conspire to deprive
Zimbabweans of their freedoms," the
privately-owned newspaper, which is critical of
the government, comments.
The new legislation is "an admission by the
government that it is fast losing the battle of
continuing to mislead the nation about its
"Draconian" media law
The Financial Gazette, which is critical of the
government, says the two laws "curtail most
basic freedoms by giving sweeping powers to
the security forces".
Next week, it warns, the government is
expected to approve "a new draconian law
seen as silencing Zimbabwe's small but vibrant
According to the pro-government newspaper
The Herald, Mr Mugabe told reporters on
arriving back in Harare from the SADC summit
that "the whole meeting supported our
That support, the paper
says, "should put to
rest all those calling for
Zimbabwe and the
division of the regional
And the calls for sanctions could even have
the opposite effect.
"Zimbabweans have been tried and tested
before," it argues. "Sanctions will, in fact,
invoke that spirit of nationalism and unite the
country in their bid to preserve their hard-won
The "prophets of doom" who had wanted the
SADC leaders to support sanctions against
Harare "have been shamed once more".
SADC "hit for six"
In South Africa, Jean-Jacques Cornish writing
in the Pretoria News heard the thwack of
willow against leather as President Mugabe
buckled up his shinpads and marched into the
crease in Blantyre.
"Arrogant Mugabe hits SADC wimps for a big
six", he headlines his report.
Mr Mugabe, he says, is untroubled by the
British, and put on "a bravura performance at
the one-day international in Blantyre."
"He has been bowling them over for decades,"
the paper says.
"Only now are they beginning to realise that
the gentlemen's code known as the laws of
cricket don't necessarily apply to troubled
Last September, it recalls, the Commonwealth
"learned a bitter lesson" from Mr Mugabe.
"He looked into the eyes of the people who
helped put him in power and just plain lied to
them. The land occupation by so-called war
veterans would stop, he said. Two days later,
the promise was broken and the occupations
resumed. That certainly is not cricket."
"Small wonder Mugabe walked back to the
pavilion with a smile."
- Africans still ignorant
High numbers of people in Africa and other
developing countries do not realise that
HIV/Aids can kill.
Even in countries with high infection rates a
large majority of men and women believe they
are not at risk of contracting Aids, the UN
Population Division says in a report released on
"Dramatic changes in
sexual and reproductive
awareness" are needed,
the UN body states, to
defeat the Aids
campaigns have raised
awareness of the
disease but have not
The report is based on
surveys in 39 African, Asian and Latin American
countries. Men and women were questioned
about Aids and a high level of ignorance was
Women, Aids and sex
Half the women surveyed in Benin, Burkina
Faso, Chad, Mali, Madagascar and Niger did
not know that they could become HIV positive
and develop Aids through sex.
In half the countries
25% and 33% of
women were unaware
how they could
Awareness of Aids and
its prevention differed
greatly in rural and
The study found that
less than a third of
married women in villages knew about Aids. In
most countries, men knew more than women
about Aids and its transmission through sex.
Condoms not popular
The efforts to prevent HIV transmission
through the use of condoms appear to have
been a failure.
In western and central Africa, the report says,
a serious difficulty in promoting the use of
condoms has been the desire of women to
Overall "the condom has not become more
popular" and greater education is need on risk
prevention, according to the UN.
Some 28 million Africans live with HIV/Aids, and
an estimated 2.3 million Africans died from Aids
We will stand our ground, say Zim farmers
24 June 2002 11:53
About 2 900 Zimbabwean farmers, ordered to cease farming under the
government's controversial land reform law giving it sweeping powers to
seize farmland, have largely ignored the deadline and continued their
business, says Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) representative Jenni
On May 10 the government amended the Land Acquisition Act to order
farmers whose property has been earmarked for acquisition to stop farming
45 days after a notice of acquisition has been issued
and vacate their property within 90 days.
For farmers who had been issued with government notices to take over their
property before the law was changed, the 45-day notice period to stop
farming came into effect from the day the law was passed.
"A lot ... are just going to stay as they cannot stop farming in 45 days. We
will have to stand our ground and see what happens," Williams said.
The affected farmers, according to the CFU, represent about 60% of the
white farmers who held about 4 800 title deeds before the controversial land
reforms turned violent two years ago.
During this period government supporters, calling themselves war veterans,
began occupying white farms and demanded that they be redistributed to
landless black Zimbabweans.
Meanwhile, in South Africa, the New National Party (NNP) said the
announcement that the white-owned farms should cease operating was the
last nail in the coffin of Zimbabwe's economy and could have fatal
consequences for the New Economic Partnership for Africa's Development
NNP representative for Land Affairs issues Willem Odendaal said: "If the
African Union, that will be formed next month, does not put an end to the
tyrannical transgressions of the president of Zimbabwe, then Nepad will be
doomed and lack credibility.
"This will result in the failure of this socio-economic plan making it just
another landmark on Africa's road of deterioration."
Odendaal said president Robert Mugabe's continued draconic land reform
plans would lead to the demolishment of property rights in Zimbabwe.
"It will not only cause famine and poverty, but will also impact negatively on
South Africa and other neighbouring countries."
He said South Africans should expect new pressure on the country's
"Zimbabwe's current misery will increase and lead to more unwelcome
refugees entering South Africa... This will place more pressure on the
availability of scarce infrastructures like housing and jobs. The burden on
South African taxpayers will also increase, as the government's
responsibility to provide aid to Zimbabwe increases," he said.
Zimbabwe's Land Minister, Joseph Made, was quoted on state radio at the
weekend saying the number of farmers affected was much less than the
CFU claimed, but would not specify the numbers.
Farmers who ignore the deadline will be liable to two years in jail or a 20 000
Zimbabwe dollars fine or both.
A CFU representative expressed fears of violence on the farms as the
deadline passed and farmers vowed to continue working.
"There are fears of violence. We do anticipate there will be violence and we
hope it will be curtailed," said Williams.
Some tobacco farmers who had made a special application to the
government to continue farming until the end of next season, early next
year, had their request turned down, according to the state-run Herald
The CFU representative said on Friday that, in addition to farmers who have
to stop operations, an estimated 232 000 farm workers would also have to
stop working on Monday in line with the amended law.
Zim farmers broaden their horizons
21 June 2002 12:27
Authorities in Mozambique and Zimbabwe have launched a probe into
claims by provincial authorities that Zimbabwean commercial and peasant
farmers were seizing arable land along the border with Mozambique.
"We have had reports of illegal land occupations from the Manica provincial
authorities, the most serious case of which involves a major Zimbabwean
tobacco grower," national director of land mapping and planning Jose
Mucombo said on Friday.
Mucombo said authorities in one district of Mussorize reported that
Zimbabweans have been extending their farms across the border into the
fertile lands of the central Manica province.
"There have also been persistent reports of Zimbabwean peasants violating
the border in different locations," he said.
Mucombo said governments of the two countries have agreed to form a
technical commission to probe the issue.
The commission is expected to examine whether the border demarcations
of the 1930s still stand or have suffered illegal alterations.
Mucombo said it was not clear that the alleged Zimbabwean invasions are
linked to the controversial land reforms in Zimbabwe, which have seen many
white commercial farmers losing land to the government for redistribution
amongst landless blacks.
Meanwhile, a Mozambican government plan to resettle some Zimbabwean
farmers who legally requested land for lease is still under consideration.
However, farmers who have asked for very large land holdings have had their
requests turned down by Maputo, for fear of importing the Zimbabwean
In Mozambique, all land belongs to the state and can only be leased for a
period of up to 50 years.
Tanzania suspends gem
The Tanzanian Government has suspended all
mining in the north of the country after up to
42 miners died following the failure of a fresh
The disaster happened on Thursday at
Mererani, near Mount Kilimanjaro - the only
place in the world where the gemstone
tanzanite is found.
Daniel ole Njoolay, the
for Arusha, said there
would be no more
mining in the area until
all the bodies had
Fourteen have been
retrieved so far.
The victims are about
125 metres (410 feet)
about 300 metres (985
feet) along a
Mining officials said 32 miners were registered
to work in the mine when the pump failed, but
another 10 miners were believed to have died
in an initial rescue attempt.
Correspondents say tanzanite mines are
relatively primitive and lack proper safety
They say miners are usually young men who
often remain underground while carrying out
They use oxygen pumps fitted with long hoses
to pump air down into the mines.
The mines amount to little more than holes
hundreds of metres deep and are notoriously
In 1998 more than 50 people died after heavy
rain flooded the mines.
The Mererani district is rich in deposits of
tanzanite - a gemstone with a generally
violet-blue hue which earns Tanzania about
$8m annually on the world market.
Swazi women fear losing
Women in Swaziland are expressing concern
after being warned by a senior official that if
they wear trousers on the streets they may be
torn off by soldiers.
The senior official in the royal household said
trousers were disrespectful to Swaziland's
traditions, Reuters news agency reported,
though he acknowledged that younger
princesses in the extensive royal family were
among the worst culprits.
"Soldiers from the army
will patrol for
offenders... They have
been instructed to strip
the trousers from
women in pants, and
tear them to pieces," a
resident of the capital,
Mbabane, quoted the offical as saying.
"If any of use dare wear pants, the soldiers will
strip us naked," Mary Dlaminini, 22, said after
listening to Jim Gama, the senior official in the
royal household, who addressed local people at
a special meeting.
Human rights activists have accused the Swazi
authorities of oppressing women. Swaziland is
one of the world's last remaining absolute
monarchies and has a reputation for being
However, many young women in Swaziland
now wear trousers and there is likely to be
deep resistance to any attempts to further
restrict their freedoms.
Women are already not allowed to wear
trousers in government offices and at the
"The dictates about what women can and
cannot wear is medieval but unfortunately
reflects the fact that women are legal minors
in Swaziland," Doo Apane, an attorney with the
Swaziland branch of Women in Law in Southern
Last September, King Mswati III tried to revive
a traditional law on chastity, and banned sex
for young girls in order, he said, to preserve
virginity and halt the spread of HIV/Aids.
But the royal edict has
parents who have
refused to get their
children to wear
tassels, designed as
chastity belts, until
the king's own
daughters comply with
the traditional custom.
The king had also said
maidens should not
shake hands with men
or wear trousers for five years.
Last November, the king bowed to pressure
from angry young women and fined himself a
cow for violating the chastity vow he had
imposed on the rest of the country.
In a very unusual demonstration, 300 young
Swazi women had gathered outside the royal
palace and symbolically laid down their
They were showing how angry they were that
King Mswati III had broken his own rules.
The king, soon after he decreed the ban, had
announced he was to marry a 17-year-old girl.
Resentment among Swazi women grew when
they learned that his fiancée was living at the
Any man who breaks the cultural ban is fined
an animal, such as a cow, or is liable to pay a
Earlier this month, King Mswati married once
again, bringing the total number of his official
wives to nine.
He wedded Nontsetselelo Magongo, an
18-year-old girl forced to leave school last
year amid protests from human rights and
anti-child abuse institutions in Swaziland and