- Zimbabwe poll 'stifled at birth'
03 November 2003 13:13
The High Court in Zimbabwe on Monday began hearing a challenge by
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai against President Robert Mugabe's
victory in last year's disputed polls.
The hearing comes 18 months after Tsvangirai first filed a petition
against the election, claiming Mugabe violated electoral laws and used
dirty tactics to win himself a fifth term in office.
Tsvangirai's South African lawyer, Jeremy Guantlett, told Justice Ben
Hlatshwayo on Monday that the disputed poll was conducted in an
environment that was "blatantly unconstitutional".
The start of the long-awaited petition attracted a large audience that
crammed into a courtroom in the Harare High court. As Tsvangirai, his
wife and other senior officials from his Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) looked on, the MDC lawyer told the judge that a state-appointed
body tasked with supervising the election was not properly constituted
because it had only four members instead of five.
He argued that the Electoral Supervisory Commission, whose members are
appointed by Mugabe, had scuttled chances of a free and fair election.
"The fairness and genuineness of the elections were stifled at birth by
that extraordinary sight of the incumbent, the main contender of the
elections, being set up as a main rule-maker in an election in which he
was one of the two main actors," Gauntlett said.
Tsvangirai, who has posed the greatest challenge ever to Mugabe's
23-year grip on power, wants a rerun of the March 2002 poll, which was
largely condemned by Western observer groups, as well as one from the
They said that the poll had been fundamentally flawed and marred by
violence and vote-rigging.
However other African observer groups, including one from neighbouring
South Africa, a key ally of Zimbabwe, declared that the election had
been free and fair.
Tsvangirai's lawyers also intend to argue that Mugabe tightened
electoral laws to disqualify large numbers of voters ahead of the poll.
These included thousands of white voters -- perceived to be opposition
supporters -- and millions of black Zimbabwean voters working abroad.
An estimated three million Zimbabweans who have escaped economic
problems at home now live in South Africa, while tens of thousands more
have gone to Botswana, Mozambique and Britain.
They also claim that the number of polling stations set up in the MDC
strongholds of Harare and Chitungwiza were reduced, causing massive
queues of people, many of whom did not get to vote. - Sapa-AFP
Mugabe plans sweeping reforms
02 November 2003 09:06
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe plans sweeping changes to his cabinet
and the central bank in a bid to kickstart the faltering economy, state
media reported on Saturday. Mugabe blames the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
for failing to stem the black market in foreign currency.
The overhaul of the central bank is to begin next week "to make more of
a developmental institution that protects the national interest", the
Herald quoted ruling Zimbabwe African National Union
- Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) officials who attended a central committee
meeting in Harare on Friday as saying.
Zimbabwe has critical foreign currency shortages affecting a wide
variety of imports including fuel. Foreign currency is easily available
on the black market though, where it trades at more than
seven times the official rate.
The economy of this troubled southern African country is in its third
year of recession, shrinking faster than most other world economies.
Inflation is edging up towards 500%, while chronic shortages of fuel and
basic commodities make daily life a headache for many.
Zimbabwe is also grappling with high rates of HIV/Aids infection, which
affects at least one in four of the population.
Meanwhile there are deep political divisions between Zanu-PF supporters
and those of the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic
Ministers in his government, appointed soon after his
re-election in March last year, are also not safe in their jobs, the
"The president said the restructuring and overhauling exercise will not
be limited to the Reserve Bank only, but will be extended to other key
national institutions. He told the meeting that this would include the
cabinet," an official told the paper.
"He said the time had come to be proactive and turn around the economy
and it was important to go beyond textbook economics," the official
It is not clear exactly what form the overhaul will take.
Cabinet reshuffles are rare here. There has however been widespread
speculation that Mugabe might get rid of ministers accused of taking
more than one farm under a controversial land reform programme, though
there has been no confirmation of that from the government.
A new vice president also has to be appointed following the death in
September of Simon Muzenda, one of two ruling party officials who hold
On Monday opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai begins a long-awaited
election petition in court, challenging Mugabe's victory in the 2002
polls. - Sapa-AFP
Tanzania roads get facelift
By Dan Dickinson
BBC, Dar es Salaam
Tanzania's road network is set to become the envy of Africa following a
major construction programme in the country.
The network - made up of 85,000km - has been so neglected in the past
that in many areas it has deteriorated beyond repair.
This has forced people travelling to the northern city of Mwanza from
Dar es Salaam to pass through the Kenyan capital, Nairobi - a detour of
several hundred kilometres.
It is hoped that new roads - not just in Mwanza but across the whole of
Tanzania - will boost the local economy and help to reduce poverty.
"It is important because it is one of the major factors of economic
growth in any country... it eases transportation of goods, whether
agricultural or industrial goods, imports or exports," says Mr Leopold
Mujjungi who is in charge of trunk roads in the Ministry of Works.
Mr Majungi says that the new road network will also ease communication
between Tanzania and the neighbouring countries of Rwanda and Burundi.
"People will get easier access because there is no damage to their
cars, no potholes and there is a saving in travelling time, and along
the new road a lot of commercial activities are coming up," he says.
In the case of Mwanza the new road system is impacting on the health of
"People were inhaling a lot of dust from morning to dusk which has been
affecting even their health," said Mr Majungi.
"But now we have a new paved road with no dust at all".
The biggest donor in the road rebuilding programme is the European
Union (EU) which is spending up to $40m a year.
"It requires a lot of resources... the government is putting in some of
the resources but the needs are huge because Tanzania is such a huge
country.....that even to maintain the current network of roads requires
a lot of resources," says William Hanna, head of the EU in Tanzania.
Many of the tarmac roads in Tanzania were built over 10 years ago and
have almost completely disintegrated and Mr Hanna says that the EU has
listed maintenance as one of the conditions for assistance in the
building of new roads.
"A few years ago it came to a point where we could not assist Tanzania
in the construction of new roads unless the question of maintenance was
properly addressed," said Mr Hanna.
When the Mwanza road project ends early next year it is hoped that
Tanzanians will by then be reaping the many benefits that new roads can
- Chissano Dissolves Government
Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique (Maputo)
January 26, 2005
Posted to the web January 27, 2005
As part of the transition to a new head of state, and a new government,
Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano on Wednesday dissolved the current
As of midnight Wednesday, Prime Minister Luisa Diogo, all ministers and
deputy ministers, and all provincial governors are relieved of their
The government held its final meeting on Tuesday, under Chissano's
chairmanship, followed by a ceremony at which diplomas of merit or of
honour were awarded to the members of the outgoing government, and of
members of Chissano's previous government, in office from 1994 to 1999.
The newly elected parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, will be
sworn into office, and elect its chairperson on Monday.
Presiding over this opening session will be among the last state duties
undertaken by Chissano.
His successor, President-elect Armando Guebuza, will be inaugurated at
a public ceremony next Wednesday, 2 February. He is expected to announce
a new government within a matter of days.
Zimbabwe sculptors struggle with sales
26 January 2005 08:44
Zimbabwe's traditional stone sculptors, who once earned huge sums from
Western tourists, museums and galleries, are now struggling to survive
due to their country's isolation.
The exquisite soapstone and granite works, crafted for centuries by the
country's majority Shona people, came to the attention of the world in
the 1960s when it metamorphosed into a more modern and Cubist art form.
The representations of humans, birds, beasts and spirits or purely
abstract pieces started commanding hefty prices abroad and Shona works
grace the collections of the New York Museum of Modern Art, Britain's
Queen Elizabeth II and the Rockefeller family.
But Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's standoff with the United States,
Europe and Australia since controversial presidential polls in 2002 has
led to a slump in Western tourists, the main chunk of buyers.
Mugabe's policy of wooing Asia to offset this drop has not helped.
"We have suffered perhaps even more than any other industry since the
problems between our government and the Western countries started," said
Harare art dealer Newman Chiadzwa.
"The European markets are virtually closed and since the start of this
'Look East' policy, we are getting lots of visitors from China and Korea
coming to us saying they want to exchange sculptures with goods such as
bicycles. But we need money, not bicycles."
Shona stone sculptures were picked up as souvenirs by European
travellers as far back as the 13th century, according to historical
Newsweek once described it as probably the most important art form to
have emerged from Africa in the 20th century.
Many sculptors now moonlight to supplement their income or sell their
works at a fraction of the price in a country labouring under a slew of
economic woes, including hyperinflation and a high unemployment rate.
Renowned local sculptor Kennedy Musekiwa said business had slowed down
so much in the last five years that he has resorted to running training
workshops in the United States and Europe to supplement his income.
"It's difficult these days to earn a living on stone sculpture alone,"
"There is little business as fewer tourists are coming from Europe and
the United States while most locals have little or no disposable income
and would never think of buying a stone sculpture."
Fellow sculptor Tendai Rukodzi used to run a bustling open-air gallery
along the main road to Harare airport.
Now he spends most of the time chatting or drinking beer with friends
while killing time and waiting for the rare customer to turn up.
"Some of our old clients have said they would never come here until
Mugabe goes and as a result, I go for months without selling even a
single item," he said.
"I end up selling the sculptures at giveaway prices just to get money
to buy food and pay rent. I don't even get paid enough to buy stone to
make the next piece."
However, Elvas Mari, an official with the Zimbabwe National Arts
Council, insisted there was a silver lining.
"This slump in business has also helped in a way to separate genuine
artists from imitators. I believe it's the mediocre artists who are
feeling the pinch. Talented artists have weathered the storm and
developed ways to sell their products in the difficult circumstances,"
he said. - Sapa-AFP
There's an interesting collection of black & white photos from
Mozambique on the BBC page, ranging from the 60s to the present.