- Malaria drug offers new
Scientists are reported to have developed a
cure for malaria that has been successfully
tested on monkeys.
A team of researchers discovered a drug which
stops the disease from spreading by preventing
malaria parasites from reproducing.
The disease is one of
the most prevalent and
deadly in the world,
affecting about half a
billion people each year,
according to the World
The new vaccine could be available for testing
on human beings within about two years,
reports the American journal Science.
Until now, most anti-malaria drugs have only
had limited effectiveness and new strains of
the disease have developed which are
resistant to treatment.
The team of European and South African
scientists said the new drug, called G25,
completely cured monkeys infected with the
disease in laboratory experiments.
Malaria is transmitted to victims by
enter the victim's
blood stream and liver,
where they multiply,
before entering red
There they continue
to reproduce, burst
the blood cells and
infect more red blood
cells in an ongoing
The parasites can
eventually kill 70% of
blood cells, causing anaemia, coma and death.
G25 blocks the parasites' ability to multiply in
the blood cells by preventing it from making
protective membrane, crucial to the parasites'
Team leader Dr Henri
Vial, from the French
National Centre of
Scientific Research, said
the new drug killed all
the parasites within two
Other studies suggest
that the parasite failed to develop resistance
to the new drug, even though researchers
encouraged it to do so.
Malaria kills almost 3m people, mostly in Africa
and Southeast Asia, each year, according to
One of the main drawbacks to G25 is that it
has to be injected, although tablet form should
be available within two years.
"For people from Africa or from Asia it is more
safe to take the drug orally," said Mr Vial.
Mr Vial said that while it worked well, G25 was
not the definitive cure and work was already
under way to develop an improved version.
EU monitor stripped of
Zimbabwe has withdrawn the tourist visa it
granted to the head of the European Union
team sent to monitor next month's presidential
The move raises the
possibility that the EU
will impose sanctions
against the government
of President Robert
Zimbabwe has granted
accreditation to about
30 EU monitors, but had
refused to include the Swedish head of the
team, Pierre Shori, because it accuses Sweden
- and five other EU members - of bias.
Sweden's Foreign Minister Anna Lindh said
Zimbabwe had revoked Mr Schori's visa
because he had made political statements.
Ms Lindh warned that if Mr Schori were
expelled, it would create a very serious
The acceptance of EU electoral observers was
a key condition laid down by Brussels for the
avoidance of targeted sanctions against
leading members of the Zimbabwean
If implemented, the
include a travel ban on
Mr Mugabe, his family
and close associates,
a freeze on any assets
they might hold in EU
member states, and a
The EU members have
also said they will
sanctions if they believe that the voting has
not been free and fair, or if media coverage of
it is restricted.
A report is being prepared for a meeting of
foreign ministers in Brussels next Monday, and
it is thought a decision could be taken then.
President Mugabe is expected to face his
toughest challenge in his 22 years in power in
the 9-10 March poll.
International pressure on Zimbabwe to allow
observers has grown as human rights groups
have warned of a "climate of fear and terror" in
the run-up to the elections.
On Wednesday evening, dozens were reported
injured when self-styled war veterans and
ruling party supporters rampaged through
Zimbabwe's second city of Bulawayo.
feared for life
Leading Zimbabwean journalist Basildon Peta
has said he will not return home until he is sure
of his safety.
Mr Peta, who is the local correspondent of the
British newspaper, The Independent, fled to
South Africa on Thursday night, after attacks
on him in the state-controlled media.
Mr Peta also writes for
Gazette and heads the
country's union of
After arriving in South
Africa, Mr Peta told the
BBC that the level of
vilification and number
of threats to which he
had been subjected in Zimbabwe's
state-controlled media had become
"There was no doubt my life was at risk," he
said, adding that he would rather be regarded
as a living coward than a dead hero.
He said that he and his family have come
under sustained intimidation for the past two
years; that envelopes full of bullets were left
on his doorstep, and that he received so many
phone calls in the middle of the night
threatening him with death that he eventually
disconnected his line.
On Wednesday, Zimbabwean television
devoted the first 13 minutes of its main news
bulletin to reports about Mr Peta, accusing him
of lying about the details of his recent
overnight detention in a Harare prison.
website said Mr Peta
took an evening flight
out of Zimbabwe on
Thursday to join his
wife and young child
already in exile.
"There has been a big
attempt to try to
completely. I will go
back as soon as I feel
it is safe, possibly
before the election,"
Mr Peta said.
The Independent said Mr Peta had been the
victim of an erroneous report by the Media
Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) alleging
that he had spent less than five hours in
custody, rather than the 15 hours he actually
spent in a police cell.
The false report was exploited by the
authorities to vilify him, The Independent said,
adding that the journalist's name last year
topped a Zimbabwean security service hit list.
After emerging from detention in Harare on 5
February, Mr Peta stressed that he would not
be bowed by Zimbabwean President Robert
"I will continue as I have always done," he told
Row over media bill
The Zimbabwean Government has denied new
laws were designed to stifle opposition in the
run-up to next month's presidential elections.
The Independent said
Mr Peta had faced
charges of failing to
about a demonstration
against a controversial
new media bill, but
these had been
dropped, according to
his lawyer, Tawanda
Mr Peta was the first
journalist to be
detained under the
Public Order and Security Act, just days after
it came into effect.
If convicted, he could have been sentenced to
two years in jail, the newspaper said.
The law, passed earlier this month, makes it a
crime to criticise or ridicule President Mugabe
and prescribes the death penalty for acts of
"insurgency, banditry, sabotage or terrorism".
Tricks, lies and videotape
Mugabe*s opponent is accused of plotting murder, but it appears to be a smear
In a no expenses spared dirty tricks operation, the Zimbabwean government
allegedly hired a dubious Canadian *political consultancy" that secretly filmed
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai using the word *eliminate" in connection with
President Robert Mugabe.
The tape formed the key element of a 50-minute documentary produced by
Australian television station SBS, which claimed that Tsvangirai asked a Canadian
company, Dickens and Madson, to arrange Mugabe's assassination.
According to Dickens and Madson's chief executive Ari Ben-Menashe, who was
once employed as a junior officer in Israeli intelligence, his contact in the
Zimbabwean government was Security Minister Nicholas Goche.
Ben-Menashe claimed that his Montreal-based firm was approached last year by
someone acting on behalf of Tsvangirai to help the Zimbabwe opposition party, the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). He described the firm as a *political
consultancy" and said he had known Mugabe for some time.
In a statement, the company said its senior staff had *extensive contacts" with
*intelligence agencies around the world".
Time magazine has called Ben-Menashe a *veteran spinner of stunning-if-true-but
yarns". He has been ruthlessly attacked in Newsweek and The Wall Street Journal.
He was also the main source of allegations made in 1991 by an award-winning
journalist, Seymour Hersh, about the late Robert Maxwell, Mirror Group journalists,
the abduction of the Israeli nuclear whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu, and assorted
Ben-Menashe first came to light when he was acquitted by a New York federal jury in
1990 of charges that he had illegally sold Israeli-owned C-130 Hercules aircraft to
Iran. The sale, he said, was part of a United States-sanctioned deal to win the
release of American hostages.
Asked how SBS got hold of the Tsvangirai video, Ben-Menashe replied: *That is
neither here nor there."
The tape was also given to the Zimbabwe government, probably in January,
according to award-winning SBS film-maker and journalist Mark Davis who produced
the documentary for the current affairs show Dateline.
Tsvangirai had three meetings with Dickens and Madson, the first in London at the
insistence of a Rupert Johnson, well known to the MDC, who had been approached
by the Canadian company that said it wanted to represent the MDC in North America
as it had good contacts in the White House.
Tsvangirai believed the meeting would
focus not only on fund-raising, but on
political lobbying. Also present was MDC
secretary general and constitutional
lawyer Professor Welshman Ncube. They
recall the meeting involved scenario
planning, including discussions about
Tsvangirai said on Wednesday that
Ben-Menashe claimed to have good
contacts with military officials and key
The Canadian company claim Tsvangirai asked them , at this first meeting, to be
contracted to assassinate Mugabe. Both Tsvangirai and Ncube deny this as
*absolute rubbish*. However, Tsvangirai said the MDC did contract Dickens and
Madson to undertake political lobbying in North America.
The second meeting, also held in London, was secretly recorded by Ben-Menashe.
Tsvangirai attended the meeting on his own and again the meeting involved scenario
planning, discussing every eventuality, including a coup d'état and the possibiliy of
hat Mugabe being killed in the event of one taking place.
The third meeting took place in Montreal in December and was filmed using a
surveillance camera because, Ben-Menashe said, he was horrified at Tsvangirai's
plans to assassinate Mugabe, and/or stage a coup d'état and needed proof of the
During the interview it is clear from the transcript that Ben-Menashe is putting leading
questions to Tsvangarai. The subsequent conversation is disjointed. Finally
Tsvangirai uses the word *elimination". At no time does he talk about a plot to
assassinate Mugabe, nor does he talk of any plan to stage a coup, although he
makes reference to the military and allegedly uses the word *eliminate" again.
Furthermore, there is no evidence in the transcript that Tsvangirai hired the company
to assassinate Mugabe, there is only the word of the three employees of the
company in the pay of the Zimbabwe government.
Tsvangirai said that Ben-Menashe had told him that as a political consultant he had
dealings with Mugabe and was frustrated when he discovered the old man would not
exit the arena.
Tsvangirai also said he was told by Ben-Menashe that Mugabe had *stashed
*I remember being surprised when they said if Mugabe didn't go quietly, they would
make other arrangements, or words to that effect."
On Wednesday Tsvangirai said he was so irritated by the way Ben-Menashe steered
the conversation that he walked out on them. By mid-December, after doing some
checks on Ben-Menashe, the MDC says it severed its contract with Dickens and
Madson and through its internal network was informed that the company was
handled by Goche, and senior government spokesman George Charamba.
Neither man answered his telephone when called for comment.
At the time of going to press the Mail & Guardian had not seen or heard the tape.
The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation will air it on Friday evening.
Davis ruled out the possibility that the tape had been tampered with, or edited, before
being given to him, and said *it would stand up to any scrutiny".
Davis's programme does, however, include an interview with Tsvangirai during which
he dismisses any possibility of the MDC planning any attempt on Mugabe's life.
Davis would not say who gave him the tape until he had cleared it with his *sources",
nor would he say when he was given it, but he did not deny that it came from
Dickens and Madson. He said he did not know whether the Zimbabwean government
knew he had the tape when it granted him * a white, Western journalist * an
interview with Mugabe, when all others journalists had been refused access to him.
In a telephone interview on Thursday, Davis said the tape was not his only proof but
that he had three witnesses, including Ben-Menashe, prepared to swear in court that
they heard Tsvangirai ask them about assassinating Mugabe.
Davis said he agreed that Ben-Menashe's word might not be credible in some
circles, adding: *If you say I have been had, I will sue you."
Davis's trip to Zimbabwe was his first, and he was both naïve and ignorant, according
to a producer hired by him for the day.
An international television editor has said: *I have a programme on my computer and
could, if I wanted to, make anyone say almost anything. It is certainly not costly,
and a company with so-called intelligence links could do it easily and it would pass
all sorts of tests."
During the taped interview Ben-Menashe is shown saying: *The MDC represented by
the top man who's sitting here right now commits to, let's call it whatever you want to
call it, the coup d'état or elimination of the president."
Ben-Menashe adds: *OK, Mr Mugabe is eliminated. Now what?"
Alex Legault, also from Dickens and Madson, asks the man identified as Tsvangirai:
*Are you in a position to ensure a smooth transition of power?"
The man replies: *I've no doubt about it."
The footage is apparently of such poor quality that no one at the meeting can be
identified, although Davis says there is no doubt that the black man in the
sequences is Tsvangirai.
Additional reporting by Richard Norton-Taylor and Andrew Meldrum in Harare
-- The Mail&Guardian, February 15, 2002.
And, with a slightly different point of view, the BBC version:
A Canadian firm linked to the discovery of an
alleged opposition plot to assassinate
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has said
it felt "morally compelled" to expose the
The plot was allegedly
uncovered with the
release of grainy video
footage, purporting to
show opposition leader
discussing Mr Mugabe's
Mr Tsvangirai has vigorously dismissed the
charges as a crude smear campaign designed
to discredit him ahead of Zimbabwe's upcoming
But political consultancy Dickens & Madson,
which says it was approached first by Mr
Tsvangirai, said it felt it had to turn evidence
of the plot over to the Zimbabwean
Company President Ari Ben Menashe,
reportedly a former Israeli intelligence agent
with long-standing links to the Mugabe
government, has denied the video was part of
a sting operation aimed at discrediting Mr
The footage, allegedly filmed in Montreal last
December, is of such poor quality that it is
impossible to identify anyone beyond doubt.
Australia's SBS Dateline programme said it
showed a meeting between representatives of
the political consultancy and a man described
in the film as "the MDC's top man".
In it, the figure said to
be Mr Tsvangirai
procedure in the
after "the head of
state has been
Mr Ben Menashe, a
linked in the 1980s to
the Iran-Contra arms
scandal, has said he
believes Mr Tsvangirai
did not realise that he
had already worked as a lobbyist for Mr
"So he knocked on the wrong door," Mr Ben
Menashe told Britain's Daily Telegraph
In a statement, the company said Mr
Tsvangirai made an approach through an
intermediary, "knowing of the extensive
contacts Dickens & Madson principals have
with various intelligence agencies around the
But once he had filmed proof of what Mr
Tsvangirai was allegedly asking for, he went to
the Zimbabwean authorities.
"Dickens & Madson felt itself morally compelled
to assist the embattled people of Zimbabwe
and their President Robert Mugabe," the
Although Zimbabwe's government-owned
Herald newspaper reported the story on its
front page, no legal action has so far been
taken against Mr Tsvangirai.
Mr Tsvangirai's MDC party said in a statement
that the assassination story was similar to
numerous other baseless stories put out at the
instigation of the ruling Zanu-PF party.
MDC chief spokesman Welshman Ncube, said
the meeting did take place, but only after the
company had approached Mr Tsvangirai, calling
for an urgent meeting to discuss policy issues.
Mr Ncube confirmed that two meetings had
taken place in London before the Montreal
meeting, which was filmed.
But talk of assassination was entirely initiated
by Mr Ben Menashe, he said.
News reports have made much of Mr Ben
Menashe's colourful past as a notorious figure
in the world of espionage and arms dealing.
He was arrested in 1989 for allegedly selling
aircraft to Iran, but was later acquitted.
He has also accused the Israeli intelligence
agency, Mossad, of murdering press tycoon
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF AFRICA
ONE hundred of the world's top
photographers will descend upon
Africa on February 28 to take
photographs of the vast continent
to be published in a book entitled
"A Day in the Life of Africa,"
organisers said on Thursday.
From the Congo river to Morocco
and Rwanda, the photographers
will attempt to capture a day in the
life in the continent's 53 countries.
The photographs will be compiled
in a book, Internet site, and
travelling exhibition -- the
proceeds from all of which will go
to fighting Aids in Africa. More
than 10 Pulitzer Prize winners,
dozens of photographers and
photojournalists from the Magnum
agency and AFP and 20 African
photographers number among the
100-person team. - AFP