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  • Christine Chumbler
    Zambian minister sacked for fraud Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa has sacked his deputy information minister, John Mwaimba, for alleged fraud, a government
    Message 1 of 57 , Apr 7, 2003
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      Zambian minister sacked for 'fraud'
      Zambian President Levy
      Mwanawasa has sacked his
      deputy information minister,
      John Mwaimba, for alleged
      fraud, a government spokesman
      has said.

      Mr Mwaimba is alleged to have used
      a fake title deed as a guarantee in
      the purchase of $300,000 worth of

      The dismissal follows newspaper
      reports of a court case between Mr
      Mwaimba and the company who sold the fertilizer.

      A statement issued by Mr Mwanawasa's spokesman said
      the decision to
      sack Mr Mwaimba should not influence any possible
      police action against
      the former minister.

      Fighting corruption

      Mr Mwanawasa has vowed to wipe out corruption within
      the Zambian
      Government in his first five-year term.

      In February this year, former president Frederick
      Chiluba - previously a
      mentor to Mr Mwanawasa - was arrested and charged with
      66 counts of
      corruption relating to abuse of office and theft of
      public money.

      Mr Chiluba, who led Zambia for two terms before being
      barred by the
      country's constitution from running again, has denied
      all the allegations.


      MDC spokesperson arrested by Zim police

      07 April
      2003 14:56

      The chief spokesperson for Zimbabwe's opposition
      Movement for Democratic
      Change (MDC) was arrested in Bulawayo on Monday,
      the party announced.

      The circumstances of Paul Themba Nyathi's were
      unclear, said MDC leader
      Morgan Tsvangirai's spokesperson, William Bango.

      Nyathi is a member of the party's national
      executive and an MP.

      Earlier on Monday a magistrate released the MDC's
      vice-president Gibson
      Sibanda (59) who had been held for a week in a
      Bulawayo jail on allegations
      of trying to "overthrow the government by
      unconstitutional means".

      He had organised a national stayaway last month in
      protest against
      President Robert Mugabe's government.

      On Thursday last week the magistrate who was due to
      deliver a ruling on
      Sibanda's bail application failed to turn up for
      the hearing because of
      "personal commitments".

      Sibanda thus spent another four days in detention.
      He was granted about
      R970 000 bail.

      The MDC is planning further mass action. - Sapa


      Zimbabwe govt says white farmers are

      07 April
      2003 09:15

      The Zimbabwe government has rounded on white
      farmers here, accusing
      some of being "British-sponsored lawless elements"
      behind recent mass
      action in the country, a newspaper said on Sunday.

      In comments carried by the state-controlled Sunday
      Mail Information
      Minister Jonathan Moyo accused some white farmers
      of defying government
      orders to leave their land.

      The comments are likely to be seen as a slap in the
      face for the
      white-dominated Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU)
      which last year chose
      to drop most legal challenges against the
      government's acquisition of their
      land in favour of dialogue.

      Moyo also accused the farmers of being "part of the
      brains" behind an
      opposition led job stayaway last month that saw
      urban areas closed down
      across the country.

      "The time has come for them to be dealt with in
      terms of the full wrath of the
      law. Their lawlessness will no longer be
      entertained," he said.

      Relations between the government of President
      Robert Mugabe and
      Zimbabwe's 4 500 or so white farmers have been
      testy since the
      controversial land reform programme was launched
      three years ago.

      The CFU has recently expressed its concern over the
      continued eviction of
      farmers and the acquisition of farms even though
      the government last year
      declared that land acquisition was over.

      Last week, the CFU claimed a farmer in the southern
      district of Mwenezi
      was abducted and beaten by a group of around 200
      "settlers" who forced
      him to sign a document agreeing to leave his farm.

      The union's concerns were included in a letter
      recently sent to Agriculture
      Minister Joseph Made, the Sunday Mail reported. The
      letter prompted an
      angry response from the government, the paper

      Moyo was quoted as saying that the CFU no longer
      represents commercial
      farmers "but in fact now represents unrepentant
      Rhodie (former white
      minority Rhodesian) farmers and other lawless

      Around 11-million hectares of previously
      white-owned land has so far been
      seized by the government for redistribution among
      new black farmers. Only
      around 600 white farmers are reported to still be
      on their farms.

      Moyo accused the farmers' union of being behind the
      March 18-19 job
      stayaway called by the opposition Movement for
      Democratic Change (MDC)
      to protest alleged misgovernance.

      The government has received widespread criticism,
      including from the US
      government, for its alleged crackdown on domestic
      opponents in the wake of
      the mass action. Hundreds of opposition supporters
      were arrested. -

      Politics, Food Volatile Mix in Zimbabwe

      The Associated Press
      Monday, April 7, 2003; 7:26 AM

      BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe - A shiny BMW and
      two government vans pull up in front of a tangled
      line of dusty trucks at a Zimbabwe grain depot.
      Trunks and doors are opened and plump sacks of
      grain swiftly loaded under the gaze of armed

      The transaction, witnessed by journalists, takes
      place by a row of towering grain silos at one of the
      distribution sites controlled by the government
      grain monopoly in this southern African nation.

      The centers are at the heart of claims byoe farmers of
      defying governm
      opposition groups and human rights activists that
      the government is using food as a political weapon
      in a country where over half the people are at risk
      of starvation.

      Critics charge that food supplies are being funneled
      mostly to buy support and pay off cronies as
      authoritarian President Robert Mugabe fights
      against a strengthening opposition threatening his
      decades-long hold on power.

      Zimbabwe was once known as the bread basket
      of southern Africa, but food production has been
      wrecked by erratic rains and the state's often violent
      seizure of most white-owned commercial farms. Vast
      tracts of farmland either lie fallow or have been
      carved into subsistence plots.

      Cornmeal, the staple food, is often distributed only to
      those with membership cards in the ruling Zanu-PF
      party. Grain is milled almost exclusively by ruling
      party members and shipped to stores whose owners are
      known Mugabe faithful.

      "There is an assumption that most governments want to
      feed their people, (but Mugabe) realized that food
      is a very effective political weapon," said David
      Coltart, an opposition lawmaker and a top human rights

      Government officials dispute the accusation, putting
      the blame for the food crisis on bad weather.

      "(It's) only in the imagination of those who want to
      politicize and demonize the food distribution system,"
      Social Welfare Minister July Moyo told The Associated

      Yet in August, when food first became short in this
      country of 12 million people, Didymus Mutsata,
      Zanu-PF's organizing secretary, said food should go
      only to those within the party's fold.

      "We would be better off with only 6 million people,
      with our own people who support the liberation
      struggle. We don't want all these extra people,"
      Mutsata said.

      Diplomats also accuse the government of obstructing
      food deliveries to opposition supporters.

      At an angry confrontation with Moyo last December, Tony
      Hall, the special U.S. ambassador to the World
      Food Program, demanded: "Why do I get the impression,
      that I have to beg you to feed your people?"

      Physicians for Human Rights Denmark issued a report on
      cases of food being abused for political reasons,
      including rural opposition strongholds where U.N. food
      relief was reportedly withheld by the state grain

      "If it is not possible to increase nonpartisan food
      supplies into the country, it is our opinion that starvation
      and eventually death, will occur along party lines in
      Zimbabwe," the report said.

      Ruling party political bosses also have been accused of
      selling grain on the black market, sometimes from
      their own living rooms. The official price for a
      22-pound (10-kilogram) bag of cornmeal is 500 Zimbabwe
      dollars - about 50 U.S. cents - but is sold for 10
      times that on the illicit market.

      Finding cornmeal at government-set prices in public
      markets has become increasingly difficult, while
      witnesses report it being sold at cost at ruling party

      "The suffering is incredible. All the time they
      interfere, all the time government wants to make it appear that
      they are the ones feeding the people," said the Rev.
      Pius Ncube, the outspoken Anglican archbishop of
      Bulawayo, sitting at his desk under an icon of a black

      Ncube said every day he hears stories from parishioners
      who are forced to present ruling party cards to get
      food, or have been turned away as suspected government

      Out on the street, a bread line stretched down
      tree-lined blocks of Bulawayo, the country's second biggest

      "We are very angry," said Cecilia, a 24-year-old who
      asked to be identified only by her first name.

      She slipped away from the line, saying she did not dare
      speak where patrolling ruling party militants might
      hear her.

      "We don't see food," she said. "We don't know where it
      is going."
    • Christine Chumbler
      Voting doesn t fill the belly Justin Pearce 12 December 2004 23:59 Mozambique s ruling party, Frelimo, surged ahead last week in unofficial results from the
      Message 57 of 57 , Dec 14, 2004
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        'Voting doesn't fill the belly'

        Justin Pearce

        12 December 2004 23:59

        Mozambique's ruling party, Frelimo, surged ahead last week in unofficial results from the country's recent election, puzzling analysts who had expected a neck-and-neck finish with the opposition Renamo. At the same time, evidence of ballot-stuffing in some remote districts cast a shadow over the clean bill of health that international observers gave the elections.

        Projections suggest that Frelimo's presidential candidate, Armando Guebuza, will get 60% of the vote, as compared with 35% for Renamo's Afonso Dhlakama, who in 1999 collected nearly 48% of the vote. These projections are based on results posted by individual polling stations and collected by Radio Mozambique correspondents around the country.

        The sharp drop in Renamo support was accompanied by an equally dramatic fall in voter turnout, with numbers expected to be between three million and 3,5-million: less than half of the eligible voters. Turnout in the 1994 and 1999 general elections was 5,4-million and 4,9-million respectively.

        Analysts agreed that abstention had been highest among Renamo's traditional supporters in the largely agricultural centre and north of the country, who felt that the government had let them down, and the opposition had failed to provide a viable alternative.

        "People chose to stay in the fields -- voting doesn't fill the belly," said independent journalist Marcelo Mosse.

        "In the cities, the absence might have been a criticism not only of [outgoing president Joaquim] Chissano, but also of Guebuza -- he is not someone who inspires support."

        The political weekly Savana described the low turnout as "a red card to the political class", which it accused of being out of touch with voters' interests.

        Reports of irregularities were concentrated in Tete province in western Mozambique.

        "In Tete there was clearly fraud, though not enough to affect the final result," said Luís de Brito of the Electoral Institute of Southern Africa (Eisa).

        He said two voting stations in the province's Changara district had reported turnout of close to 100%, with most of these votes going to Frelimo. De Brito said the high turnout for the province as a whole gave reason for suspicion.

        "In Tete, we have an average of 400 voters turning out at each voting table, compared with fewer than 300 per table in all the other provinces."

        De Brito said Renamo activists had been forced to leave certain areas of Tete province early in the election campaign, which had prevented them from sending monitors to polling in those areas. Elsewhere in the country, the presence of party representatives during voting and counting was hailed as Mozambique's best safeguards against fraud.

        The Mozambican Political Process Bulletin -- an independent newsletter with a wide network of correspondents -- also cited evidence of ballot-stuffing in Tsangano district of Tete province, as well as in Chicono in northern Niassa province. In the latter, 996 out of 1 000 voters registered at one station appeared to have voted, with Guebuza gaining more than 900 of the votes.

        Such reports contradicted the positive assessment of international observation teams, who praised Mozambique's strong legal framework for elections, the professionalism of polling station staff, and balanced coverage both in state and private media. Asked why the international teams had not picked up the incidents of fraud cited by Eisa, De Brito said these incidents had occurred mostly at remote and inaccessible polling stations.

        The international teams, including Southern African Development Community parliamentarians and representatives of the Commonwealth, the Carter Center and the European Union, were however concerned at the low electoral turnout. Several of the observer teams also mentioned the mistrust that had been created by the party-political structure of the National Electoral Commission, where Frelimo is able to force through decisions by majority vote.


        Elderly pay the price for raising Aids orphans


        14 December 2004 08:21

        Until a week ago, elderly Hannah Dube and her five grandchildren living in the dusty village of Kezi in soutwestern Zimbabwe had been surviving on small portions of dried white melon.

        Then Zimbabwe's social services stepped in, handing the 75-year-old Dube emergency aid of the staple corn grain to feed her family, caught in the grip of an HIV/Aids pandemic and a crippling drought.

        Her face worn by grief and stress, the aging grandmother's plight in this remote and rural corner of Zimbabwe tells the story of the burden of many other pensioners in this southern African country where HIV/Aids has turned a million children into orphans.

        The UN children's organisation Unicef estimates that more than one in five children will be orphaned in Zimbabwe by 2010, with more than 80% of those orphaned by HIV/Aids, which kills about 3 000 people per week on average.

        Nine of her grandchildren are orphaned -- she is looking after five children between the ages of five and 13.

        Three successive years of drought in this naturally dry region some 600km southwest of the capital, characterised by unproductive soils, and a political and economic crisis have exacerbated food shortages.

        "We only eat one meal a day," said Dube, who lives in a hut next to a dusty road, where her cooking fire has long since gone out.

        "We are used to it now and there is nothing unusual about it," she said.

        While food is available in the shops, people like Dube and her family, who have no source of income whatsoever, cannot even dream of buying any.

        Driving up to Dube's home along a narrow dust road, hundreds of people, dangling empty sacks, were seen walking back home, looking tired, hungry and dejected.

        They are coming from the local business centre where they had gone to register their names for food aid to be handed out three days later.

        "We were told [by an international aid organisation] to come and register our names for food coming next week. But now they say only those on the old list will be given food," Dube said.

        The Zimbabwean government this year turned away foreign food aid, saying the country produced enough to feed its people.

        But Harare has recently allowed the United Nations World Food Programme to undertake a one-off free food distribution to get rid of its stock left over from April when the government stopped general food aid.

        Volunteer workers confirm the hunger in the area.

        "It is depressing to go out there visiting the sick, handing out a few bars of soap, diapers, some antiseptic solutions -- but seeing that what is urgently needed is food," said volunteer Georgina Tshabalala.

        Dube is not only struggling to provide food for her orphaned grandchildren, but also shelter.

        She cleans up grass that fell while she was thatching the roof of her new mud and pole hut in this remote rural area of Zimbabwe.

        With nobody to help her build or maintain their home, Dube has to risk climbing onto the roof to patch it up before the rains bring it down.

        Inside, the fire has gone out.

        Dube said besides the fact that their one meal has already been cooked, she could not afford to keep the fire going because she does not have the energy to regularly go to the bush to cut down firewood.

        The elderly woman -- old and weak enough to be a dependent herself -- said she had no choice but to look after her some of her grandchildren.

        Those who are not under her wing are probably involved in illegal gold mining, rife in the area.

        "I don't really know how they are surviving, but no one helps me with anything. The chickens and the goats you see outside I sell to send these children to school," she said.

        Despite the difficult living conditions and lack of food, one of her grandchildren, Dan, (7), passed his year-end school examinations with A grades. - Sapa-AFP


        Improved Zim inflation still world's highest

        Harare, Zimbabwe

        14 December 2004 15:15

        Zimbabwe's official inflation rate dropped to 149,3% last month, down from 209% in October, the state Central Statistical Office said on Tuesday. The new rate still leaves Zimbabwe with the highest inflation in the world.

        The troubled Southern African country is in the midst of its worst economic crisis since independence from Britain in 1980, with inflation peaking at more than 600% last year.

        With the local currency plummeting, sending a Christmas card to Europe by air mail now costs Z$40 000 (about R41) -- twice as much as a one-bedroom apartment did shortly after independence.

        A dollar was equivalent to Z$2 at the time, compared with the current official rate of Z$5 600, or Z$8 000 on the black market.

        The Reserve Bank attributes the recent drop to tighter fiscal policies aimed at reining in rampant profiteering and a lucrative black market in scarce commodities and hard currency.

        However, the official inflation rate excludes prices on a wide range of services and imports that have continued to soar throughout the year.

        The cost of medicines, vehicle repairs and health, agriculture and mining equipment has risen by more than 600%. The state telephone and postal companies have increased their fees by 1 000%.

        The agriculture-based economy has collapsed in the four years since the government began seizing thousands of white-owned commercial farms for redistribution to black Zimbabweans.

        The country routinely faces acute shortages of food, gasoline, hard currency and other imports. -- Sapa-AP
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