- Zambian minister sacked for 'fraud'
Zambian President Levy
Mwanawasa has sacked his
deputy information minister,
John Mwaimba, for alleged
fraud, a government spokesman
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.
Mr Mwanawasa has vowed to wipe out corruption within
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
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
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
Sibanda (59) who had been held for a week in a
Bulawayo jail on allegations
of trying to "overthrow the government by
He had organised a national stayaway last month in
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
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
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
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
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
By DINA KRAFT
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
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
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,"
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
"We don't see food," she said. "We don't know where it
- 'Voting doesn't fill the belly'
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
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