mostly Zim news
- 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
By HENRY WASSWA
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.
- Anti-Tobacco Lobby Affects Malawi
The Post (Lusaka)
October 7, 2004
Posted to the web October 7, 2004
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
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,"
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
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
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
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."
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