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  • Christine Chumbler
    Century Malawi Venture Stalls The Daily News (Harare) July 24, 2003 Posted to the web July 24, 2003 Chris Goko CENTURY Holdings Limited has encountered
    Message 1 of 6 , Jul 25, 2003
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      Century Malawi Venture Stalls

      The Daily News (Harare)

      July 24, 2003
      Posted to the web July 24, 2003

      Chris Goko

      CENTURY Holdings Limited has encountered difficulties in its expansion
      into Malawi, with that country's central bank querying the destination
      of funds the local financial services group used to buy a stake in a
      Malawian bank.

      Century bought into INDEbank Malawi in November last year through
      Botswana-incorporated Century International Limited (CIL).

      CIL is the Zimbabwean banking group's offshore holding arm and it has
      invested US$2 million (about $1.68 billion) so far into INDEbank

      Sources close to the matter said the Reserve Bank of Malawi had queried
      the destination of the funds used to buy into the Malawian bank.

      Century Holdings spokeswoman Farai Mangwende confirmed the

      She told the Business Daily: "We confirm that there have been queries
      by the Reserve Bank of Malawi regarding the destination of funds for the
      payment of Century's acquisition of INDEbank."

      The Malawi central bank feared proceeds from the November 2002
      acquisition were externalised and were "not benefitting Malawi seeing as
      the existing shareholders are in Europe", she added.

      Mangwende, however, denied allegations that Century Holdings'
      investment in Malawi had not received approval from the Reserve Bank of

      She said the investment was "granted approval in principle" by the
      Malawi central bank in November, which is why Century was able to begin
      raising capital for the venture.

      Responding to claims that staff seconded to Malawi had been called back
      because of the setback in the project, the Century spokeswoman said
      financial managers from the group had been sent out on a temporary basis
      to oversee the initial development of the bank.

      "The staff that had been sent to Malawi were sent there in order to
      facilitate the eventual transition of INDEbank into Century," she said.

      "Such staff can only go for designated periods not exceeding three
      months," she added, emphasising that in terms of an earlier agreement,
      the staff had been sent to Malawi on the basis of skills transfer
      pending completion of the acquisition.

      It was not immediately clear how the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed
      financial services group would now proceed after the setback in Malawi.

      But it emerged yesterday that the group had engaged the Zimbabwean
      central bank and its Malawi counterpart over the matter.

      At the company's annual general meeting in late April, Century
      directors told investors that the southern African initiative had chewed
      up nearly $40 million, which was not expensed but was reflected as
      capitalisation in the group's 15-month audited accounts to December

      Gary Shoko, the bank's chief executive, said the market should expect
      better results and performance at the next financial results
      announcement, saying that the improvement in performance was already


      Zimbabwe formally appeals for food aid


      24 July 2003 16:58

      The Zimbabwe government has made a formal appeal for new international
      food aid to stave off starvation faced by some 5,5-million people, the
      United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said on Thursday.

      "We now have the appeal in hand and certainly it has been a bit of a
      while in coming," said WFP country director for Zimbabwe Kevin Farrell.
      He said the government forecast a grain deficit of 711 000 tonnes until
      the next main harvest in early 2004.

      The government has estimated a production total this year of 900 000
      tonnes of the staple maize, and state reserves total some 284 000

      "It (the appeal) says government will need to import 711 000 tonnes of
      maize grain in order to make up for the maize grain deficit," Farrell

      The WFP received the government appeal on Tuesday and will forward it
      Thursday, he said.

      "We are trying to resource 350 000 tonnes on top of the carryover that
      we have of a little over 100 000 [tonnes]," he told reporters.

      With an average one person in two facing food shortages, Zimbabwe is
      the largest recipient of humanitarian aid in southern Africa for a
      second year running.
      UN food agencies meeting in South Africa last month concluded that the
      dire situation in Zimbabwe was caused by drought and the "current
      social, economic and political situation".

      Zimbabwe embarked on a controversial and sometimes violent land reform
      programme in early 2000 that has seen some 14-million hectares
      (42-million acres) of formerly white-owned land being seized to
      redistribute to landless blacks. - Sapa-AFP


      Zim detainees include babes in arms


      25 July 2003 14:33

      A group of 48 women demonstrators, four of them with babies, were
      facing a second night in police cells in the western city of Bulawayo on
      Friday for allegedly being part of an "unlawful gathering".

      Lawyers were trying to secure the release of the women and the infants
      but relatives said they feared that they would continue to be held
      throughout the weekend.

      They were arrested in Bulawayo on Thursday after protesting against
      draconian legislation that legal experts say gives the government powers
      almost identical to a state of emergency, including random arrest,
      outlawing demonstrations and jailing journalists for criticising the

      Eyewitnesses said the police first arrested a few of the leaders of the
      demonstration, organised by Concerned Citizens of Zimbabwe, a coalition
      of civic organisations.

      Many of the other demonstrators then voluntarily handed themselves over
      to police, some of them climbing into police vehicles to join their
      arrested colleagues.
      The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said ruling party
      vigilantes in the last three days had embarked on a campaign of violent

      intimidation in urban areas around the country to force opposition
      candidates to withdraw from local government elections next month.

      MDC spokesperson Paul Themba Nyathi said candidates' homes in the towns
      of Kariba in remote northern Zimbabwe and in Marondera had been
      attacked, and candidates had been threatened with death.

      Earlier this week three MDC candidates were in hospital, one of them
      with a broken neck, after ruling party militiamen forcibly barred them
      from registering as candidates.

      The incidents came amid growing international pressure on President
      Robert Mugabe's government and on the opposition MDC to begin
      negotiations to end the country's political and economic crisis.

      Observers also said that signs of hope for talks emerged mid-week when
      the pro-democracy party called off a scheduled walk-out of Mugabe's
      annual address at the opening of Parliament, which was followed by a
      cautious welcome by Mugabe, who spoke of "our brothers and sisters in
      the opposition".

      Human rights organisations say random arrests, violent suppression of
      opposition supporters and denial of the protection of the law for
      victims of state-driven violence is the order of the day as 79-year- old
      Mugabe clings to power after 23 years in office. - Sapa-DPA


      Mugabe, Tsvangirai Open Way for Talks

      Business Day (Johannesburg)

      July 24, 2003
      Posted to the web July 24, 2003

      Dumisani Muleya and Sarah Hudleston

      ZIMBABWEAN President Robert Mugabe and his Movement for Democratic
      Change (MDC) rival Morgan Tsvangirai have taken a huge stride towards
      resuming talks to resolve their country' s political and economic

      In an unprecedented gesture of reconciliation, the two leaders extended
      each other the olive branch, calling for co-operation and dialogue to
      end the crisis.

      The apparent thawing in relations between the two leaders and their
      parties would vindicate President Thabo Mbeki's insistence, made
      recently to US President George Bush, that behind the scenes talks were
      taking place.

      The prospect of meaningful talks starting soon appears to have been
      bolstered by the MDC's announcement yesterday that it was upgrading its
      negotiation team ahead of resuming talks with the ruling Zanu (PF).

      Three new members are to be added to the team, which will be led by MDC
      secretary-general Welshman Ncube.

      Tsvangirai said in Harare yesterday the MDC had decided to invest all
      its energies in the search for a permanent solution to the Zimbabwean

      "We have expanded our negotiating team, and agreed on the route to
      guide the team when dialogue resumes.

      "We are ready to support and participate in all efforts designed to
      chart a peaceful course towards the resolution of the crisis in
      governance in Zimbabwe."

      Ncube led the previous round of talks which were called off by Zanu
      (PF) last year. The names of the new MDC delegates have not yet been

      Mugabe told a luncheon, hosted by the local government ministry to mark
      the opening of parliament on Tuesday, he was happy that opposition MPs,
      including MDC leader Tsvangirai, who is not a legislator, were present
      during his address to parliament.

      MDC MPs have in the past boycotted Mugabe's parliamentary speeches,
      claiming that he stole last year's March election.

      In a conciliatory tone, Mugabe said he hoped the two parties would be
      able to work together despite their differences.

      "I am glad that today there was that realisation that parliament must
      hitherto be an honourable institution to which we belong," Mugabe said.

      Tsvangirai said his party would do everything it could to ensure
      negotiations resumed.

      "Our national executive tasked the leadership to do all it can to clear
      the air for a peaceful political engagement.

      "We decided to invest all our energies in search for a permanent and
      lasting solution to the Zimbabwean crisis."

      The Zimbabwean official opposition is still pressing ahead with its
      court petition to have the results of the 2002 presidential election

      The MDC's petition will be heard in the high court on November 3.

      However, David Coltart, MDC secretary for legal affairs, said yesterday
      that the party might be prepared to suspend the court petition should
      talks resume.
    • Christine Chumbler
      Mugabe snubs to top food aid official Harare 15 June 2004 14:16 A visit to Zimbabwe scheduled for Tuesday by James Morris, the United Nation s top food aid
      Message 2 of 6 , Jun 15, 2004
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        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.
      • Christine Chumbler
        Anti-Tobacco Lobby Affects Malawi The Post (Lusaka) October 7, 2004 Posted to the web October 7, 2004 Masuzyo Chakwe Lusaka MALAWI s economy has greatly been
        Message 3 of 6 , Oct 8 6:12 AM
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          Anti-Tobacco Lobby Affects Malawi

          The Post (Lusaka)

          October 7, 2004
          Posted to the web October 7, 2004

          Masuzyo Chakwe

          MALAWI's economy has greatly been affected because the International
          Anti-Tobacco Lobby is calling for a reduction of tobacco exportation
          which is Malawi's main cash crop, acting Malawian High Commissioner
          Protasii Kanyengambeta has said.

          Kanyengambeta said Malawi was losing a lot of income through tobacco
          because the international Anti-Tobacco Lobby was very cautious about how
          much tobacco can be exported.

          He said this has been a problem because there had been a lot of talk on
          reducing on advertising because tobacco causes cancer and the
          international market was very cautious on how much tobacco could be

          He said Malawi greatly depended on tobacco and this had led to loss of
          revenue but the Malawian government was trying to find supplements for

          "We have started growing tea, sugar, cassava and cotton. Malawi's
          economy solely depends on agriculture and we live at the mercy of
          nature, when the weather is kind we are happy, when the weather is bad
          we get worried," he said.

          Kanyengambeta said the Malawian government was trying to add value to
          the tobacco industry by starting to process it at home.

          "The fact that Malawi does not process the tobacco has made it
          difficult because we just grow and export and the content of the tobacco
          is much stronger and this is what has brought a lot of controversy from
          the lobby," he said.

          Kanyengabeta said the pricing had also been affected because Zambia,
          Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Tanzania had also started growing tobacco and
          this had led to loss of revenue on Malawi's part.

          He also said Malawi whose economy is agricultural based had not been
          able to produce enough food because of the drought and had made the
          country import maize from Zambia.

          Kanyengambeta said the political situation in Malawi was very healthy
          where they had four opposition political parties working with the

          "They have formed a coalition with government and they have opposition
          members as ministers in government," he said.


          The new betrayal

          Godwin Gandu

          07 October 2004 08:59

          Vicious cycle: Farm settlers protest around a fire started by the
          Zimbabwean police during an eviction. (Photograph: DZK Images)
          Zanu-PF bigwigs are at loggerheads over the eviction of more than 400
          families, including war veterans, from 22 farms they occupied during the
          land grabs that accompanied Zimbabwe's last parliamentary elections.

          The evictions are taking place under the command of deputy police
          commissioner Godwin Matanga. Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena said
          the people "illegally settled themselves" on the farms and the
          government was now "regularising the land reform".

          "It's an insult to 14-million Zimbabweans," said war veterans
          leader Jabulani Sibanda. "Top government officials own more than one
          farm. Why target people sharing a farm? That logic alone is an insult.
          These are simply people who moved from dry land where they were settled
          by Rhodesians to where the new Zimbabwe laws enabled them to exist,"
          said Sibanda.

          The war veterans are furious that the "settlers" have been evicted
          without notice and have urged President Robert Mugabe to put a stop to

          Writing in the state-run Sunday Mail Lowani Ndlovu, widely believed to
          be the pseudonym of Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, described the
          evictions as a "violation of government policy".

          "They raise more legal policy questions than they provide answers ...
          They have been callous and unlawful. It smacks of the Rhodesian premier
          Ian Smith's eviction of blacks. The wrong way of doing the right thing
          is not just unacceptable, but also dangerous," Ndlovu fumed.

          But Land Reform Minister John Nkomo is adamant that the move is in line
          with guidelines and procedures of a commission set up to investigate
          progress on land reform. He said Mugabe had appointed 12 people to
          conduct a land audit in May, which produced the Utete report detailing
          irregularities in land redistribution and its impact on commercial
          farmers and workers.

          Constitutional law lecturer Dr Lovemore Madhuku doubts that proper
          legal process was followed. "It shows Zanu-PF is confused. It is a
          momentary lapse of strategy."

          Without food and shelter, the settlers have resorted to squatting in
          the open veld along the Harare-Kariba highway where they are at the
          mercy of the rain and chilly evening temperatures.

          Burnt-out huts, broken pots, empty cattle pens and deserted fields are
          all that are left at Inkomo farm about 50km northwest of Harare and it
          is about 60km from Raffingora farm recently allocated to Harare mayor
          Sekesai Makwavarara after she defected from the Movement for Democratic

          When the Mail & Guardian visited the settlers temporary home one woman
          could not hold back her tears as she explained that all they wanted now
          was food. Another elderly woman was pounding maize and praying that the
          rains wouldn't destroy the little they had left.

          Rumour has it that a top government official was moving in with his

          Another farm dweller, Wilbert Chimbudzi, believed the settlers had been
          "stabbed in the back". His two huts were torched leaving his family
          vulnerable. "We have been left with nothing. Nothing," he said.
          "We were never given time to prepare. It was so inhumane and we
          don't know why we are being made to suffer when in the first place it
          was the government that encouraged us to invade farms."


          New draft poll Bill for Zim


          07 October 2004 12:59

          advertisementThe Zimbabwe government has approved a draft Bill to
          "overhaul" the country's widely criticised election laws and provide for
          the establishment of a tribunal to settle poll disputes, a state-run
          daily said on Thursday.

          The Herald said the move was "in accordance with the letter and spirit"
          of southern African regional principles and guidelines for democratic
          and free polls.

          The proposed law "incorporates several ways of removing voting
          bottlenecks", the paper said.

          Apart from setting up an electoral court -- which would not have
          jurisdiction over criminal cases -- the proposed law will establish a
          separate registrar of voters and end mobile polling stations, currently
          used in remote areas.

          The Bill is the second set of proposed poll regulations introduced by
          the government of President Robert Mugabe in a month, and ahead of
          national elections due in March.

          On September 10 the government officially published the Zimbabwe
          Electoral Commissions (ZEC) Bill, which went through its first reading
          in parliament on Wednesday.

          If enacted, the Bill will give Mugabe powers to appoint key members of
          an "independent" commission to oversee all elections and referendums,
          beginning with legislative polls due in March.

          The country's civic groups have complained about a lack of safeguards
          to ensure the independence of the election commission and fear it might
          be biased.

          Last week, the groups told a parliamentary committee that they were
          also worried that the ZEC did not adequately address issues relating to
          electoral violence and conflict resolution.

          The electoral court, proposed under the Electoral Bill, will have
          limited jurisdiction and only "hear and determine election petitions and
          other matters and shall be a court of record", The Herald said.

          "It will, however, have no jurisdiction to try any criminal case," it

          Scores of people were killed in the run up to the country's 2000
          parliamentary elections.

          The 14-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC), of which
          Zimbabwe is a member, has meanwhile adopted a charter to ensure free,
          fair and peaceful elections in all its member states.

          The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party says these
          conditions do not exist in Zimbabwe but the country's Information
          Minister Jonathan Moyo has said that Harare is not bound to stick to the
          SADC guidelines because they are not law.

          The MDC has threatened to boycott the polls until all the SADC
          guidelines have been implemented. - Sapa-AFP


          Zimbabweans protest against new laws


          07 October 2004 12:59

          advertisementAbout 200 anti-government activists in Harare demonstrated
          on Thursday against a barrage of repressive Bills that were introduced
          into the Zimbabwean legislature.

          Early morning commuters looked on as members of the National
          Constitutional Assembly, pressing for a democratic constitution, marched
          through the city centre strewing thousands of leaflets condemning
          planned laws that threaten the existence of the vigorous civil liberties

          Only two people were arrested as the demonstrators were dispersing,
          said NCA chairman Lovemore Madhuku. Police were caught by surprise, "We
          were too early for them," he said. The government has effectively banned
          public protests and usually meets them with violent baton charges,
          teargas and arrests.

          Also on Thursday, 47 women who have been in police detention since
          Tuesday after demonstrating against the Non-Governmental Organisations
          Bill, were expected to face a court later.

          The controversial NGO Bill and the Electoral Bill which reinforces the
          government's control of elections and a third Bill tightening state
          controls on the press were tabled in parliament on Wednesday.

          The legislature, dominated by Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party, was
          adjourned until next Tuesday to allow the parliamentary legal watchdog
          to scrutinise the Bills for contraventions of constitutional rights.
          Lawyers say the parliamentary committee can only briefly delay laws that
          violate human rights.

          The NGO Bill and the electoral Bill are considered Mugabe's strategy of
          securing victory in parliamentary elections next March.

          The electoral Bill is meant to establish an independent election
          commission to administer elections, but critics noted that the body is
          effectively appointed by Mugabe himself.

          On Wednesday in parliament, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said the
          opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) would not have access to
          the state-controlled media during the run-up to the elections. The
          regime controls all radio and television stations and daily newspapers.

          "If you are an al-Qaeda, you cannot be expected to be given access to
          the public media," he said, adding, "You cannot expect the MDC to be
          given the right to say Mugabe must go in the public media."

          In July, Mugabe signed a regional Southern African treaty which commits
          all members to hold democratic elections, but the MDC says the Harare
          regime has no intention of fulfilling its obligations.

          The government has been forced to appear as if it is complying, said
          MDC legal spokesman David Coltart. In fact, there is no compliance.

          The 14-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) principles
          on democratic elections demand political tolerance, a conducive
          environment, freedom of association and freedom of expression.

          During questioning in parliament on Wednesday, Chinamasa told MDC MPs
          that the SADC treaty was not a binding law, but simply a guideline.

          The MDC says it will not participate in the election until the
          government meets the SADC principles in full by abolishing state
          security legislation under which opponents are still arrested and
          lifting controls on the independent press.

          More than 300 people, nearly all opposition supporters, were murdered
          during elections in 2000 and 2002, and thousands have been arrested,
          tortured, assaulted and driven from their homes.

          After the 2002 presidential elections, the Commonwealth said Mugabe's
          victory was the result of fraud and bloody intimidation and suspended
          Zimbabwe. - Sapa-DPA


          Zimbabwe MPs in travel scam

          Itai Dzamara | Harare

          08 October 2004 08:37

          advertisementMembers of Parliament who represent constituencies outside
          Harare are raking in millions of Zimbabwean dollars monthly from
          transport and accommodation allowances despite staying in the capital
          most of the time they are attending parliamentary sessions,
          investigations by the Zimbabwe Independent have revealed.

          In what could turn out to be a scandal to rival one that erupted in
          South Africa in July, it emerged that MPs use the out-of-town allowances
          facility as a cash cow on a bad day.

          It has surfaced that a lax system at Parliament allows MPs to pocket
          huge sums of money monthly in transport claims. There is no mechanism of
          verifying whether an MP really travelled the claimed distances every
          time he attends parliamentary business.

          MPs are paid Z$2,1-million per month while governors get Z$2,8-million.
          Ministers are paid Z$3-million while the vice-president's salary is

          Legislators however claim millions of dollars in travel allowances. The
          Independent this week established that MPs from Matabeleland get
          Z$25-million monthly in transport and accommodation allowances. MPs are
          also paid Z$180 000 per night if they stay with relatives or friends.

          The clerk of Parliament, Austin Zvoma, this week said their system only
          verifies whether an MP attended sittings or committee meetings to
          approve an allocation for transport. He said they also checked the
          mileage on MP's vehicle to ascertain whether it tallies with the claim
          submitted and the parliamentary business attended.

          "It is not our responsibility to follow the MP to establish whether he
          has indeed travelled from the address submitted," Zvoma said.

          "We check the register and confirm whether the member was present in
          the House as claimed or whether they attended a committee meeting. We
          could only confirm whether they travelled from, say, Zvishavane to
          Harare by stationing someone there, who would follow them all the way.
          The accounts department checks MPs' vehicles' mileage to confirm whether
          they have recorded the required distance."

          When a member is sworn in, he submits an address which is taken as
          their permanent residence. It is these addresses that Parliament uses
          when the MPs claim transport allowances. Investigations by the Zimbabwe
          Independent revealed that a majority of MPs who represent constituencies
          outside Harare submitted addresses in their constituencies and claim
          transport allowances based on that.

          Figures obtained from Zvoma show that transport allowances vary
          depending on the size of the MPs' vehicle engine. However, most of the
          MPs' vehicles -- secured through a government loan scheme -- have engine
          capacities of 3 000 cubic centimetres, which is the highest level. The
          allowance for the highest level is Z$11 125 per km for petrol and Z$11
          029,82 for diesel.

          For a trip from Bulawayo to Harare, a distance of 440km, the allowance
          for a petrol vehicle would be Z$4,8-million. The same amount is
          allocated for the return trip. A return ticket to Bulawayo by Air
          Zimbabwe costs Z$774 000.

          A claim for a trip from Masvingo to Harare, which is 298km, using a
          petrol vehicle, earns the legislator Z$3,3-million multiplied by two for
          the return journey.

          During parliamentary sessions, MPs are usually required to attend
          weekly. MPs from outside the capital claim that they go to their
          constituencies every weekend. This means an MP can make four claims a
          month, which translates to Z$38,4-million for an MP based in Bulawayo.

          Parliament pays accommodation allowances straight to three-star hotels.

          Sources said there had been complaints by the Ministry of Finance over
          the expenses incurred by Parliament, especially on transport allowances,
          which they say gobble the largest chunk of Parliament's annual budget.

          But Zvoma said: "We haven't had any investigated or verified cases of
          the abuse of the system."

          All that is required to obtain the accommodation allowance is
          confirmation that an MP attended parliamentary business. In the case of
          hotels, it has to be confirmed that the MP stayed at a particular hotel,
          to which the money is paid directly. - Zimbabwe Independent


          Kenyan ecologist wins Nobel prize

          Kenyan environmentalist and human rights campaigner Wangari Maathai has
          won the Nobel Peace Prize.
          She is the first African woman to be awarded the peace prize since it
          was created in 1901.

          A surprised Mrs Maathai broke the news to reporters minutes before the
          official announcement.

          The prize committee says Mrs Maathai, Kenya's deputy environment
          minister, is an example for all Africans fighting for democracy and

          The delighted 64-year-old professor said the award was completely

          "This is extremely encouraging to the people of Africa and the African
          woman," she told the BBC.

          "It is a recognition of the many efforts of African women, who continue
          to struggle despite all the problems they face."

          Social science

          In the late 1970s Mrs Maathai led a campaign called the "Green Belt
          Movement" to plant tens of millions of trees across Africa to slow

          The movement grew to include projects to preserve biodiversity, educate
          people about their environment and promote the rights of women and

          Mrs Maathai said she was delighted that the vital role of the
          environment had been recognised.

          "The environment is very important in the aspects of peace because when
          we destroy our resources and our resources become scarce, we fight over

          "I am working to make sure we don't only protect the environment, we
          also improve governance," she added.

          The committee says she has combined science with social engagement and
          politics and has worked both locally and internationally.


          The professor was the 12th woman peace laureate since the first award
          was first made in 1901.

          A spokesman for the Kenyan government said his country was honoured.

          "This is a great moment in Kenyan history. To us this shows that what
          Wangari Maathai has been doing here has been recognized," Alfred Mutua

          "We're very proud of her and she deserves all the credit."

          Mrs Maathai beat a record 194 nominations, including former Chief UN
          weapons inspector Hans Blix and head of the UN energy watchdog, Mohamed
          ElBaradei, to win the prize.

          Mrs Maathai is the second woman in a row to be awarded the peace prize
          which last year went to Iranian lawyer Shirin Ebadi, for her work for
          the rights of women and children in Iran.

          The award, which includes 10 million Swedish kronor ($1.3m) is awarded
          in Oslo on 10 December each year.

          Africa's peace laureates

          2004 - Wangari Maathai, Kenya
          2001- Kofi Annan, Ghana
          1993 - Nelson Mandela, FW de Klerk, South Africa
          1984 - Desmond Tutu, South Africa
          1960 - Albert John Lutuli, South Africa
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