150,000 need food aid in tiny kingdom (Irin, 29/05) - A joint report by the World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) estimates that close to 150,000 people in Swaziland are in need of food assistance. Although the government has already allocated 1,500 mt of maize for distribution to the most vulnerable, it still falls short of the 188,000 mt needed over the next six months. Maize production is down by some 18 percent and 37 percent below the average of the last five years. The regions most affected by the poor harvest are the Middleveld, the Lowveld and the Lobombo Plateau. Like several other southern African countries, erratic rainfall and an over-reliance on imported maize has contributed to the current food shortages. The Highveld is the only region where cereal production is estimated to have increased. Logistical problems and the government's decision to stop subsidising national fertilisers also contributed to the current poor harvest, the report said The two organisations said: "Poor access to tractors, equipment and purchased inputs in some areas of the Middleveld delayed planting. Also, the price of fertiliser on the private market is becoming increasingly difficult to afford." Swaziland's economy is largely dependent on the agriculture and manufacturing sectors. Almost 66 percent of the population live below the poverty line and unemployment is at 40 percent, although higher in the rural areas. The report added: "The recent dramatic increases in food prices have pushed a greater proportion of the population below the poverty line, and worsened the situation of those who were already struggling." The report also noted that school dropout rates for Swazi children who are living in vulnerable households had increased. "The rational is that the quarterly school fees can feed a family for a month," the report added. The price of maize and wheat have continued to rise since October and it is likely that they will rise even further, given the situation. Swaziland is a net importer of maize, wheat, dairy products and other food commodities. In a normal year, roughly 60 percent of the food consumed in the country is imported. The report recommended that maize prices be lowered in order to make it more accessible to those most in need. It also suggested that drought affected farmers begin planting immediately to prepare for the next season. "People seriously affected will require six months of direct assistance and those moderately affected will need assistance for three months. In less affected areas food-for-work may be more appropriate than free distribution," the report said.
Three Nigerians set free by court
(Manzini, Swazi Times, 22/05) - Three of the four
Nigerian nationals who were arrested for illegal possession of
dagga worth E5 000 were yesterday set free by the magistrates
court after one of them pleaded guilty to the offence. The trio;
Leo Diweh (29), Vzon Okey (28) and Mnamdi Ike (37) were set free
by senior magistrate, Nkosinathi Nkonyane. This was after their
lawyer, Leo Gama had informed the court that his instructions
were to the effect that the first accused, Jude Harrison (40) was
pleading guilty to the illegal possession of the 10 blocks of the
habit forming drug. Gama told the court that the released trio
had gone visiting Harrison when they were arrested in connection
with the offence. The lawyer insisted to the court that the trio
did not know anything about the dagga in question and applied for
their immediate release. He said that the police decided to
arrest all of them to protect their (police) side when doing
investigations. He also told the court that the trio was on
transit when they were arrested and that they had already spent
six days behind bars. The prosecutor, Lucky Groening did not
object to their release. The trio celebrated their release in
style. They were joined by friends who had initially come for the
setting of the trial date of their case. Meanwhile, Harrison was
remanded into custody of the Zakhele Remand Centre to next
Tuesday, pending the setting of the trial date of the case.
*but two fined E60 each
MANZINI - Although three of the four Nigerian nationals who were arrested for illegal possession of dagga worth E5 000 were released yesterday, two of them were fined E60, each for illegal entry and remaining in the country without a permit. Leo Diweih and Vzon Okey were fined by senior magistrate, Nkosinathi Nkonyane while the third, Nnamdi Ike was found to have been in possession of the relevant papers for being in the country. The trio was cleared of illegal possession of 10 blocks of dagga, at Pastor Griffith Dlaminis place at Fairview Township.
Suspects caught trying to smuggle E1m dagga into South Africa (Oshoek, Swazi Times, 22/05) - Three Swazis were arrested for being found in possession of El million worth of dagga at the border which they tried to smuggle into South Africa. Two of the suspects have been identified as Bongani Mabuza and Wilson Dlamini who were driving in a Toyota Cressida with local registration on the night of April 25, this year. They were found with 88 blocks of compressed dagga. The vehicle managed to cross the Swazi border without the local customs officers spotting the consignment of dagga that they had stashed in the sedan. When they reached the South African border, a thorough search was conducted and a palm sized plastic full of dagga was found inside the boot. Sources at the border said, actually what happened was the normal searching of every vehicle to see whether it is stolen or not. From the boot, a plastic full of dagga was fished out. The small plastic made the South African police officers suspect that there was more dagga hidden within the vehicle. From experience we knew there was more stuff hidden in the vehicle. I asked them politely, where they had stashed the other dagga but they refused to reveal putting up a brave face to convince me, said an officer. More blocks of the compressed dagga were found concealed inside the door seals which made it hard for the officers to close the windows of the vehicle. That is normal when there is dagga inside the door cover, you find that its occupants do not close their windows or it is extremely difficult when you try to wind it up, disclosed the officer. Despite having spotted a better part of their load, it is alleged that the duo still refused to reveal where they were keeping the rest. The South African officers then went for the drivers seat and the back seat where half of the load had been tucked underneath the seat.
Well-known drug lord arrested in South Africa (Oshoek, Swazi Times, 22/05) - The man who had supposedly hired the two suspects who were caught smuggling El million worth of dagga into South Africa, ran away on the day of their arrest at the border gate but was arrested the following day. The well-known drug load of Motjane was allegedly watching at a distance when the police made discoveries. According to officers who know the accused, the suspect was loitering around the border gate and as soon as dagga was pulled out of the vehicle he disappeared from the scene. He was hanging around here as we searched the car but in no time he was no longer there. He simply went out of sight even before we could finish making the arrests, said the officer. However, after his successful escape from the police, he came back the following day. It is alleged that he was seeking information about the arrest of his alleged colleagues. He came around here the following day probably thinking he would not be arrested. However, we pounced on him and he has joined them in custody. I suppose they are now at Lukwatini, I cant be sure about that, said the officer.
Another 800 refugees to return home to Burundi (Irin, 30/05) - Another 800 Burundian refugees are due to go home from Tanzania on Thursday under a repatriation programme sponsored by the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the agency said. This will bring to 11,700, the number of refugees the agency has helped to return from Tanzania two months after the start of the programme. It said 71,000 more had registered for repatriation. So far, the agency said, most of the refugees had come from Ngara camp, but that since 30 April, refugees from the Kibondo and Kasulu camps had also been going home. UNHCR is only helping refugees returning to provinces in the northern and central parts of Burundi, as well as Bujumbura, the capital. "However, some Burundians decide, themselves, to go back to other areas of the country," UNHCR reported on Wednesday. An estimated 9,300 had already done so spontaneously, it added. Those returning with UNHCR-facilitated convoys are taken to transit centres where they receive a package of three months' supply of food and relief items from the World Food Programme. "They are then transported on to their communes of origin," UNHCR said. Since April 2001, it said, returnees going home outside the agency's facilitated programme, and who had returned their ration cards, had also been given the three-month returnee packages. "Vulnerable persons and unaccompanied children receive special assistance," it added. "Returnees are doing well, so far," UNHCR said. This assessment stemmed from interviews with 53 families who had returned to the communes that received the largest number of returnees: Muyinga, in Muyinga Province; and Giteranyi, in Kirundo Province. UNHCR said 98 percent of these returnees had found the security situation good, 96 percent had gained access to their land, and 87 percent said they had good relations with their neighbours and the authorities. UNHCR said there were 750,000 Burundian refugees in Africa, many of whom had fled because of ethnic violence since 1993. Some told IRIN early in May that they were returning despite uncertainty about the security situation because they were tired of being refugees, or because they had relatives at home, while others had said they were being "encouraged" by Tanzania to go home. An estimated 400,000 of the refugees are in Tanzania. In another development, Radio Kwizera, a humanitarian radio station supported by the Jesuit Refugee Service, reported that Tanzanian police arrested some 400 Burundi refugees from Lukole camp in the north of the country. It said the refugees were arrested at Gakongo and taken to Mwissa prison, without the knowledge of the Karagwe district commissioner or the head o the Kibondo refugee camp. The radio reported that the refugees had left Lukole for Kibondo, another camp for Burundi refugees, without permission. Earlier in May, Tanzania clamped down on the movement of refugees across the border and in the surrounding countryside. Previously, many had taken the opportunity of free movement to visit their Burundi homes to check on conditions.
Big food shipment arrives (Irin, 28/05) - The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has "warmly welcomed" the arrival of a 33,000 mt shipment of relief food into the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam at the weekend, earmarked to help feed millions of people facing food shortages across Southern Africa. The US-donated food aid was transferred onto trucks and rail wagons destined for Malawi and Zambia. After Tanzania, the ship is to set sail for Maputo to deliver the remaining 9,890 mt of food for drought-hit Mozambique, a WFP statement said. Trucks take four to five days to reach Malawi from Dar es Salaam. The rapid arrival of such a large food shipment will greatly help millions of families suffering from severe hunger in southern Africa," Judith Lewis, WFP Regional Director for East and Southern Africa was quoted as saying. "We urgently appeal to other donor nations to provide assistance and help avert a major humanitarian crisis." Aboard the ship, the Liberty Glory, was 16,940 mt of maize, beans and vegetable oil for Malawi and 8,500 mt for Zambia. The total food shipment worth US $13.3 million brings the United States contribution to WFP for current relief operations in Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Lesotho and Mozambique, to US $36.6 million or 80,000 mt of food. WFP spokesman in Mozambique, Inyene Uyoden, told IRIN the 9,890 mt of food due to arrive in Maputo on Saturday would cover at least two months of feeding operations. WFP has targeted 400,000 people as urgently needing food supplies in the south of the country and some central districts. Apart from the recent drought, many of those currently facing food shortages were previously affected by flooding in 2000 or 2001, he said. Joint inter-agency assessment teams are now completing their missions through the six countries hardest-hit by cumulative years of natural disaster and economic crises, the worst the region has seen in at least a decade, the WFP statement said. Their findings are due to be released in early June. "Given the gravity of the situation that has unfolded in previous weeks, the number of people in need and food tonnage needed is expected to soar after teams complete assessments in the region," the statement said. In addition to assessing food needs in the region, WFP logisticians have been conducting detailed surveys of the region's logistics corridors.
Stock exchange door open to foreigners (Express, 23-29/05) - At last, the government has allowed foreign participation in the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange (DSE) beginning October this year. The move has been lobbied for quite some time by the Capital Markets and Securities Authority (CMSA), DSE and stockbrokers, who believe it will make the nascent Dar bourse more vibrant. The stock market, which has no index, is about four years old. According to a release issued by the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) Wednesday, the decision to allowed foreign involvement in Dar bourse was in line with the ongoing macroeconomic reforms, including the financial sector reforms. However, before foreigners are fully allowed to trade at the Dar bourse, three major steps have to be implemented jointly by the BoT and CMSA in the intervening period. The steps, which have to be in place in five months' time, are to establish modalities that will guide dealings of foreign investors. Institutional arrangements for monitoring private capital flows; and instituting an appropriate regulation that will provide the necessary safeguards to support an orderly and stable expansion of foreign participation at the DSE are also to be established. The release stated: Over a time, it is hoped that the private Tanzanian companies will be able to secure increased investible financial resources globally more inexpensively through the DSE than long-term loans. Opening the DSE to foreign participation, according to the release, constitutes a further liberalisation of the capital account of the balance of payments, which will require increased alertness for maintaining macroeconomic and financial stability in the country. However, DSE was established to facilitate the privatisation process in Tanzania with the aim of empowering indigenous to own same stake in the privatised parastatals. And the same government was reluctant since the inception of DSE to let foreigner investors involvement in the Dar bourse fearing foreign domination of the stock market. However the central bank explained that the benefits of allowing portfolio investment in Tanzania are long-term, and are largely dependent on the number and quality of private companies that would be listed at the Dar stock market. Efforts to reach CMSA bosses for comment over the move did not bear fruits as they were in a meeting, but DSE officials and some stockbrokers were unaware of the government decision. Currently, DSE has four local equity companies Tanzania Tea Packers, Tanzania Breweries Ltd., Tanzania Cigarette Company and TOL Ltd. The listing of the fifth company Tanga Cement Company is at an advanced stage. The only foreign company is East African Development Bank, which is trading two bonds along side one government bond.
NGOs concerned over voluntary repatriation of refugees (Irin, 15/05) - A group of 10 American NGOs have expressed concern over the voluntary repatriation of Burundian refugees from Tanzania "at this time". In a statement issued on Tuesday for the attention of the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the US government, the group (which includes refugee aid, resettlement and protection agencies) said: "Current conditions in Burundi do not appear conducive for refugee return." This was, it said, because opposing parties had not agreed to a ceasefire; the political climate in Burundi appeared tense; the army remained mono-ethnically Tutsi; conflict might arise when returnees tried to regain their land; and repatriates might be obliged to live in existing regroupment camps if conditions in their home areas were insecure. Since March, the UNHCR has aided the voluntary repatriation of at least 5,000 refugees, and registered at least another 560,000 for future transfer. Given this, and the concerns over repatriation at this time, the NGOs recommended that the UNHCR make a "concerted effort" to ensure that refugees were aware that they were under no obligation to go home; that they be supplied with relevant information to help them decide about returning; and that those who then wanted to go home be aided to return only to areas where UNHCR could monitor their protection. Other recommendations were that the Tanzanian government "cease placing political and psychological pressure" on the refugees to return; that the UNHCR investigate the extent, if any, of military activity in the camps in Tanzania; that the Burundi government make "every effort" to deal with the estimated one million Burundians internally displaced before attempting to bring back tens of thousands of refugees; that the international community ensure that the Tanzanian government did not unduely suffer financially as a result of helping the refugees; and that the international community ensure its readiness to provide prompt and adequate funding for Burundi's reconstruction.
Focus on Rwanda refugees in Tanzania (Irin, 09/05) - Eight years after the Rwandan genocide of 1994, there are approximately 25,000 Rwandan Hutu refugees living in camps in Ngara District, western Tanzania. Both the Rwandan and the Tanzanian governments are keen to see the repatriation of all of these refugees. At the same time, however, the case of each individual Rwandan refugee case is currently assessed by the Tanzanian authorities, which give refugee status to over 99 percent of them. The message from the Rwandan government to the refugees is that the situation is conducive to their return. "We are calling them to come back and work together to rebuild our country, which was devastated by the genocide," Abdul Karim Harelimana, Chairman of the Joint Commission for Repatriation and Reintegration of Rwandan Refugees, told IRIN. The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) considers the residual refugee cases in Tanzania to be "very difficult". These were people for whom it would not be simple to return, a UNHCR spokeswoman, Ivana Unluova, told IRIN. Therefore, UNHCR, which is organising and facilitating the return of the refugees, continues to insist on the voluntary nature of the repatriation. Since the beginning of 2002, just over 1,000 Rwandan refugees have gone home with the assistance of UNHCR. In the last couple of months, the numbers have dropped significantly, with the weekly convoys in April carrying as few as between 24 and 62, totalling only 156 for the month. Meanwhile, 511 new refugees have arrived in the camps since the beginning of the year. A UNHCR official confirmed to IRIN that rumours about a possible forced repatriation of the refugees were circulating among the Rwandans. The precedent set by the "massive repatriation" in 1996, when "the refugee camps were surrounded by the army with guns and sticks, and when refugees were beaten" and forced to depart, had left an indelible mark on the collective memory. "Due to what happened in 1996, even now refugees are worried about what may happen," one refugee told IRIN. Because of these fears, for the last six months a steady trickle had been leaving the camps and going to surrounding countries such as Malawi, Mozambique, Kenya and especially Uganda, said the UNHCR official. The Ugandan government was widely perceived by refugees to offer a better deal than the Tanzanian government, because in Uganda they were given land to work on, whereas in Tanzania refugees were strictly confined to the camps. Another UNHCR official added that if it should occur that the Rwandans were ordered to go home, "they would turn into Burundians overnight" -- meaning that in order to avoid forced repatriation, they would temporarily leave the refugee camps, then return, re-registering as Burundians, who are allowed to remain in Tanzania. Such incidences had already happened in the past, he confirmed.
In the Lukole B refugee camp in Ngara, several Rwandans told IRIN why they were not prepared to go home. "The Tutsis are dominating the Hutus in Rwanda. If you are in a bar, and a Tutsi demands that you offer him a drink - you have to do it. If you don't, you will see. He can make a dossier about you and allege you committed genocide. Then you will face problems. The dossier will be respected and taken seriously," said one man. A woman said she would not go home, because there was no peace. "When I was there, I saw the problems in the prisons. I used to visit two of them to bring food to relatives. But after seeing how people were being dumped in the prisons, I was scared and fled in 1998." "People who were well off were being attacked during the night. They used bullets for the men, but would not waste the bullets on the women. For women and children they used tools to knock their heads," she continued. "My aunt, uncle and their eight children were killed in Birenga commune. My uncle Raphael was a strong businessman. He used to invite the army to have drinks with him. One day, they said they would come, so he prepared everything. He invited them to eat and drink. Then they left, but came back during the night in an army vehicle. They shot him dead and used hoes to kill my aunt and eight cousins. Afterwards they stole all the money in the house." "They were killed because of their riches," she added. "Another family I know, of 20 people, were killed because they were well off. They were killed on the spot at a family party they had." She added that prominent leaders were still fleeing from Rwanda, but could not mention any names. Asked why he did not consider Rwanda to be safe to return to, one man said: "There are still people who are fleeing, and also those being imprisoned without trial in Rwanda. Some prominent leaders are escaping [from] the country. We hear this from the radio and from people who have escaped themselves." Another refugee told IRIN that it was not a good time to go back home. He said repatriating "would be very painful" and that he was still hoping he could stay in Tanzania. "Firstly, if I repatriate, I will have a problem with my wife's family, because I am a Hutu and she is Tutsi. My wife would be unable to testify about what she witnessed during the genocide, because she is married to a Hutu. If she did so, I would get into trouble from the Hutu community. They would ask why I married a Tutsi who is testifying against them." "Secondly, I have a house, big farm and other properties. I can't get them back because there is a Tutsi living there now, who repatriated from Uganda. When I was in Rwanda in 1995, he used various methods to have me put in jail. He accused me of killing my wife's 'real' husband and stealing her." "Thirdly, for a man like me married to a Tutsi, it is very dangerous for us. It creates disharmony within a family." He said his wife had already received threats to her life 1997, and that if ever insecurity occurred in the camps in Tanzania, people knew she was a Tutsi. "There is always the risk," he said.
Gasana Ndoba, chairman of the National Human Rights Commission in Rwanda, told IRIN that it was untrue that Rwandan refugees in exile were presumed to be guilty of committing crimes during the 1994 genocide. "Of course there have been arrests after refugees have returned from exile, but there is no automatic presumption of guilt about those who come back." "The judicial system is not perfect, but it is certain that the attitude of public institutions is to welcome the refugees back, and to help them to resettle. There are of course imperfections in the system, but there is no pattern of systematically arresting those coming back from exile. "I think such beliefs are related to the circumstances of the refugees who left the country in 1994. This was organised by those who planned, implemented and executed the genocide. They forced or managed to persuade many people who bore no responsibilty at all to go with them into exile, so they could hide among them. The same leaders still have an influence on the refugees," Ndoba said. Asked about the accusations relating to extrajudicial revenge killings of Hutus in Rwanda, he said: "One must be reasonable. In the post-genocide period, there was no organised state or judiciary in place. There were no professional structures and no nongovernmental agencies working in the field of human rights, so the climate was not favourable to professional justice. There were abuses which must be acknowledged, but with time and organisation of the state these are becoming rare and exceptional. They may still happen, but there is no specific targeting of refugees or ex-refugees in those matters." Harelimana told IRIN that the Rwandan government did not believe that the refugees still in exile were genocide perpetrators. He said of the estimated 25,000 refugees in Tanzania, probably 100 were either intimidators or ex-soldiers who had been involved in the genocide. "There are intimidators working in the camps, spreading propaganda, who were involved in the genocide and who are using the others as human shields." He said the Tanzanian government was working with the government of Rwanda to identify the genocide perpetrators in the camps, and that some people had been arrested there. Realising that they were being investigated, others had fled to Zambia and Uganda. There were also some who continued to live in the refugee camps, but had not registered and were therefore very difficult to identify. He acknowledged that in 1995 and 1996, some soldiers had "gone astray" and taken revenge on Hutu civilians in Rwanda. These were individual cases, however, and the government had taken action against the perpetrators.
On 8 April, the training began of almost 255,000 judges who will preside in Rwanda's gacaca courts - a form of popular or traditional justice for those accused of involvement in genocide. All but the highest category of genocide crimes will be judged by these courts. Rwandan law divides genocide suspects into four categories, to be judged at four administrative levels by the gacaca courts. Category four consists of those accused of looting or destroying victims' property during the genocide; category three of those defined as "the person who has committed or became accomplice of serious attacks without the intention of causing death to victims"; category two of those accused of killing; and category one of those accused of rape and other sexual torture. Those assigned to category one will be sentenced to death if found guilty. Following the training, due to last for six weeks, pilot trials are due to take place, after which it is hoped that the gacaca system will begin operating in all parts of the country. Asked about his hopes for the new justice system, one refugee said: "I don't know how it operates. If it operates well, I will be able to go and stand against anyone who charges me." "Gacaca is not operating yet. It needs time for it to start, so we can see if it is doing its work properly. Then we will repatriate," he said. "We will closely follow the news about gacaca on the radio, and we will also expect to be given news from UNHCR," said another. "If gacaca is working properly, all of us will be pleased to go back home to face the challenge of those who say we are all killers. If it doesn't, nobody will think of going back," another commented.
Focus on sexual violence among refugees (Irin, 07/05) - Workers in the field of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) agree that such incidences tend to be particularly prevalent among refugee populations, due to a mixture of dire socioeconomic circumstances and pressures. "Due to the situation in the camps, husbands are not able to afford food for their families, or clothing. They are also idle all day, and drink local brews. And their poor economic status leads to a lot of violence," Juster Ruttaba, SGBV officer from aid agency Norwegian People's Aid (NPA), told IRIN. The SGBV project in the refugee camps in Ngara, western Tanzania, was established three years ago, "because we found that many women were being raped, sexually harassed, being forced into early marriages, and suffering from domestic violence," Ruttaba said. Of the almost 360 people assisted so far this year, about 95 percent of cases were related to domestic violence. "A month ago there was a case where a man gave his wife 100 shillings [about US 10 cents] to buy vegetables. She was eight months pregnant, and told him she was too tired to go out shopping. Then he went off drinking to the local bar. He came back later, she gave him his evening meal, and they both went to bed. At six a.m. he woke up, took an axe and attacked her - she had seven deep gashes including in her pregnant abdomen and her eye. She lost the eye," said Ruttaba, but managed to give birth to a healthy baby. Another woman had arrived for help at the project just a day or two beforehand. She had been captured by bandits outside the refugee camps, and held captive for several days. "There were four of them, three who were armed. They made her cook and work for them, and repeatedly raped her. They kept her as a "shared wife". Eventually she managed to escape from the unarmed captor, and later reported the case to the police. "Among a 'normal' population we also have violence, but it's not reported. In the refugee camps more and more cases are being reported, because of the awareness-raising we are doing," said Ruttaba. The vast majority of rapes occur outside of the refugee camps, where women are searching for firewood or farming to earn some money. Many of the cases occur among minors: of the 13 cases reported to the SGBV project in Ngara from the beginning of this year through the end of April, 11 of the victims were 18 years old or under, with six aged between 10 and 15, and two between six and nine. In 2001, 53 out of 76 cases were among girls of 18 or under, with 22 aged between 10 and 15, and 18 between less than a year old and nine. While in some cases children were physically forced to have intercourse, in others they were given food or payment in kind, said Ruttaba. "The rapists take advantage of the fact that women have to leave the camps for firewood, and also because there are few police outside," she said. "Some children are also left alone all day when their mothers are out working." Whenever a rape is reported, the victim is given a medical examination, counselling, emergency contraceptives and helped to file a police report if she wishes. In April 2002, of the 71 cases of rape reported to the Ngara SGBV project, three were handled by the police, with local tribunals involving respected elders and chiefs handling 37. Of the 68 cases of domestic violence reported to the Ngara SGBV project in April 2002, 23 occurred as a result of polygamy/boyfriend/girlfriend problems, 15 over food rations, and 14 due to prostitution. Local practices, such as polygamy, were a major cause of domestic violence, noted Ruttaba. Due to the particularly poor economic status of women refugees, several women are often keen to marry the same man. This can lead to ill-feeling or violence between the wives, which can in turn lead to a husband becoming violent.
In some cases, men are also attacked by their wives. "In cases where husbands are impotent, some men are harrassed and attacked by their wives. We are also encouraging them to report to us," said Ruttaba. In April alone, there were eight cases reported of women attacking men, 28 of men attacking women, and 32 involving women being attacked by members of the wider family. A significant number (34) of the incidences occurred within three days of food distributions taking place. In some cases, cultural practices and values effectively enslave women. "If you don't produce three or four children you will be divorced," Angelina Ballart of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) told IRIN. Moreover, many women are also not allowed to use contraceptives. "The husbands don't like them to use it. They want more children because of the war situation. The husbands are a great obstacle," she said. UNICEF estimates that only 3.2 percent of women use family planning methods. Among those who do, injections are popular, because they are required only once every three months, and can be given in secret. Many young girls between 13 and 16 years old are forced into marriages, so that parents who are in desperate economic circumstances can obtain a dowry. In order to educate the refugees about sexual and gender-based violence - defined as "forcing another individual, through violence, threats, deception, cultural expectations, weapons, or economic circumstances, to engage in behaviour against his or her will" - social workers went from row to row of mud houses in the camps to raise awareness. Meetings were held with local leaders, peer education done, videos about preventative measures shown, and discussions encouraged, said Ruttaba. Last year, an initiative was launched by local communities whereby people tried to monitor which men were conspicuously absent when a rape occurred outside the camps, in order to establish who the culprits were. Women were also being escorted by self-appointed "guards" when they left the camps to get firewood. While it was both a radical and welcome initiative, with time interest had waned and many women were back to looking after themselves, Ruttaba said. Some men were beginning to show interest in the project, she said, but the numbers would have to increase for change to occur. "We need to involve more men, because they're the ones who are causing the problem."
No military training for returnees (New Vision, 01/05) - The Government has no plan to subject a group of returnees recently expelled from Tanzania to military training, an official in the the Prime Minister's office has said. Martin Owuor, an assistant Commissioner in the department of disaster preparedness and prevention, told IRIN, a UN news agency, on Monday, that the Ugandan authorities had not made any plan to train the returnees from Tanzania. "We have no such plans," Owuor said. Media reports on Monday said at least 3,000 returnees from Tanzania, where they had lived for decades, were to undergo a political and military course aimed at orientating them to Uganda's governance system. The Ugandan returnees, mainly ethnic Bakiga herdsmen, were expelled from Tanzania, allegedly for voting against Tanzania's ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party in elections in October 2000, according to media reports in January. Owuor said the government had seen no pressing need for the returnees to undergo Chakamchaka. IRIN said the returnees have been living in difficult conditions in a waterlogged camp in Kikagati, with poor sanitation where up to 42 deaths have been recorded. The Government is in the process of relocating them to Kamwenge.
Government declares food shortage a disaster (The Post, 30/05) - President Levy Mwanawasa yesterday declared the country's food insecurity a national disaster. In a live address to the nation on Zambia National Broadcasting Corporations radio and television last evening, President Mwanawasa said Zambia's current food production level could only cater for about six million of the 10.4 million population. President Mwanawasa said four million Zambians were at a risk of starvation. He said the severity of the problem had caused some people in outlying districts to resort to eating wild fruits. "Given the above scenario and concern for the survival of our people, my government has decided to declare a national disaster with regard to food insecurity in the nation and water shortage in Southern Province," he said. President Mwanawasa disclosed that some districts were experiencing severe water shortages while their animals had been decimated through lack of drinking water and grazing land. "This will result in poor sanitation and increased health risks for our people," he said. President Mwanawasa disclosed that the maize deficit in the year 2001 was estimated at over 360,000 metric tonnes. President Mwanawasa disclosed that his government would facilitate the importation of some 200,000 metric tonnes of maize to meet the shortfall. He said his government had embarked on the programme of winter maize production, with the first harvest expected in September this year, as some of the strategies aimed at dealing with the food shortages. President Mwanawasa revealed that the local food stocks from the 2001/2002 season were expected to be depleted between July and August. "With the exception of North-Western Province, significant reductions in maize production have been recorded in all other provinces," he said. President Mwanawasa appealed to the international community to assist the country in its time of need. He urged Zambians to avoid exporting any of their maize or maize products. "Please keep some in reserve for the hard days ahead," said President Mwanawasa.
Zambia to recruit Cuban doctors for rural hospitals (Lusaka, Sapa-AFP, 24/05) - Zambia's government said Thursday it would recruit medical doctors from Cuba to fill the shortfall of medical staff, mainly in rural parts of the country. A Zambian delegation will go to Cuba to recruit doctors to work in rural hospitals currently running without qualified personnel, health minister Brian Chituwo said. "But they will come and work on local conditions," Chituwo said on a special radio programme. Zambia doesn't have enough locally trained doctors to cover the entire country, he said. The University of Zambia, the only one in the southern African country with a medical school, produces just 50 doctors each year. Zambian doctors had protested the decision by government to bring in Cuban doctors, complaining that expatriate medical personnel were paid more than locals. Cuba has sent doctors to Zambia for several years under a cooperation agreement between the two countries.
Food crisis (The Post, 24/05) - Despite numerous warnings from international organisations, including the United Nations Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), that the food crisis in Southern Africa threatens to become a major humanitarian catastrophe, the Zambian government doesn't seem to be making any immediate and adequate response. Despite being warned that the situation is now posing a serious threat to the survival of the vulnerable, our government has not even bothered to declare hunger as a national crisis. Already there are numerous reports emerging from members of parliament complaining that their people are starving and government doesn't seem to be taking any meaningful measures this crisis calls for. We are concerned that our government seems to be leaving this problem to the international community to address. While we appreciate the impotence of our government in the face of such a crisis that requires huge sums of money to address, we feel there's no sense of urgency or even panic that one would expect from elected representatives of the people who are expected to be sensitive to their plight. What we see are daily squabbles for power - struggles for hegemony that are consuming a huge amount of money and time of our politicians. The lives of the millions of poor Zambians whom they were elected to serve don't seem to matter much - it would seem it's power first and lives of the poor later. As UNICEF has observed, in a country like ours that is already bearing the full brunt of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the food crisis presents a new and ominous threat to the survival of the over 80 per cent of our people who live in extreme poverty. This is a matter that requires very little theorising or polemics. It is a matter that calls for maximum sensitivity. This crisis is threatening over 80 per cent of Zambians with death or serious permanent impairment, especially in children. We know that hungry children, especially under the age of five, can be mentally destroyed and their development permanently ruined by hunger. Therefore we cannot wait until this crisis sets in and gets out of control for the government to move into action. The time for taking measures to prevent this impending calamity is now - tomorrow may be too late. We do not want to see the pictures of Ethiopia and Somalia in the 1980s. If nothing is urgently done to avert this impending crisis the pictures of Ethiopia may soon be haunting us. We therefore call on our government to declare hunger a national crisis and mobilise all our country's forces, political and otherwise, to try and avert this catastrophe. This should be our country's agenda number one, it should rank even above the struggle for political offices - for the presidency.
Mealie meal theft hearing continues (The Post, 24/05) - Hearing continued yesterday in a matter in which five men have denied diverting and stealing a consignment of mealie meal while it was in transit. South African truck drivers Jacobus Andreas and Louis Botha are jointly charged with Reuben Hampela, Philpas Schlopz and Adrian Banda for the alleged theft of goods in transit. They are alleged to have stolen 3,259 bags of mealie meal valued at K95 million in February this year. They were jointly charged with two other South Africans who are at large. The consignment belonging to C&S Investments was recovered at a Chinika plant where the owner maintained the consignment belonged to Lifasi Enterprises. Testifying before Lusaka principal resident magistrate Frank Tembo, Registrar of Companies chief inspector Boyd Katebe said his duties included the enforcing of the Companies and Business Names Act. Katebe said Lifasi Enterprises was registered as a company on December 6, 1993 and its directors were three South African Nationals-Mark Marais, Andre Marais, Berterand Marais and a Zambian, Mutemwa Mutemwa. He said in September 2001, a notice of change of directors was filed indicating that Mutemwa had resigned and Gert Johannes had replaced him. Under cross-examination by lawyer Kelvin Bwalya, Katebe said there was a requirement that every country has a registered office where it could be contacted while most foreigners used their lawyers' office. Hearing continues today.
Food shortage to worsen (Irin, 23/05) - Families in southern and western Zambia are expecting the worst in coming months, if the current drought conditions continue, according to a report by CARE International. The survey noted that eight out of 10 farmers reported maize crop failure in the range of 76-100 percent of anticipated yields. Given the lack of fully-grown crops, many households have begun eating green maize but more distressing is that five people have already died from eating wild roots. CARE sector coordinator for agriculture, John Siame, told IRIN: "People who are starving will eat whatever they can get their hands on. Wild roots should be cooked for hours before consumed, many people do not realise this." Over 80 percent of households in a survey of six districts in southern and western Zambia said their maize supplies will run out by June. "The rainfall was very poor this season. We had less than half of what we had last year. It rained for a few days and the rain was unevenly distributed. Farmers were expecting to harvest in March, but there was nothing to harvest," he added. Siame added that conditions for some families had deteriorated rapidly, forcing them to reduce the number of daily meals. "Almost 25 percent of families surveyed only eat once a day while close to 60 percent have had to manage on two meals," he said. The report said those who still enjoyed three meals a day would be reduced to a meal a day by September. The current crisis was worsened by the late delivery of government assistance, Siame said. He said that government subsidised fertiliser had not arrived in time for the sowing period which meant that many farmers had to wait to begin planting their seeds.
Lack of national airline affects tourism (The Post, 23/05) - The absence of a national airline has created difficulties in resuscitating tourism in Zambia, tourism minister Levison Mumba has said. Briefing the press in Lusaka yesterday, Mumba said currently tourists had to connect to a number of airlines and countries before they finally got to Zambia. "We are finding it difficult to market our tourism because of lack of a national airline. Transport and communication are key factors in the tourism sector," he said. Mumba said Zambia had a lot to offer in the tourism industry but for as long as the one important communication link, national airline, was absent it would remain hard to boost the industry. Mumba also announced the issuance of special licences to Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) enabling it crop crocodiles and hippos that have been terrorising people along the Zambezi river. He said his ministry took great exception to incidence which affected lives and crop destruction. Mumba said following numerous complaints of crocodiles, hippos and elephants wrecking havoc to villagers, he was compelled to issue licences to ZAWA for it to undertake a massive cropping of crocodiles in the Zambezi and other river banks. "Today I have issued a special licence to allow ZAWA undertake cropping of hippos on river banks to sustainable levels and I hope, as directed to ZAWA, all proceeds from the killings should benefit communities where the exercise will take place," he said. Mumba who said over fishing forced crocodiles to come off-shore in search of food called on the agriculture ministry to educate fishermen to use recommended fish nets and not mosquito nets which depleted the fish. He said from consultations he had gathered that part of the problem leading to crocodiles leaving the water to search for food was the diminishing fish levels in rivers. Mumba said he had instructed ZAWA to proceed with limited firearm where a herd of elephants was found to be destroying crops. He stressed, however, that only the head of the elephants would be killed. Mumba who cited poaching as a reason elephants were leaving parks to seek alternative protection, said the ministry was exploring ways of using the defence force to help upgrade conservation levels in high poaching areas.
Zimbabwe bus impounded by Lusaka authorities (The Herald, 21/05) - A Zimbabwe United Passenger Company bus plying the Lusaka-Harare route was impounded two weeks ago by Zambian Customs authorities at Chirundu border post after alcohol and cigarettes - goods prohibited for import in that country, were found on the bus. Sources at the company told The Herald that Zupco officials had paid close to 10 million Zambian Kwacha ($770 000) as fine to the Customs authority. Smuggling of alcohol and cigarettes between the two countries is said to be rife, as it is lucrative to sell the banned products in Zambia. Smugglers are paid in US dollars for alcohol and cigarettes from Zimbabwe. "The bus was impounded two weeks ago. About 10 million Kwacha have so far been paid to settle the fine. The bus will be released before the end of this week." Despite this, Zupco was still plying the lucrative Harare-Lusaka route. "We are still going to Lusaka," said the source. "Zupco has many buses." Questions were faxed to the acting managing director of Zupco Mr Bothwell Kunaka yesterday for him to explain the circumstances under which the bus was impounded. There was no comment from Zupco by late yesterday.
Two South African drivers in court (Times of Zambia, 18/05) - Two South African truck drivers yesterday appeared in the Lusaka magistrates court jointly charged with two Zambians for allegedly diverting three truck loads of mealie-meal destined for a Zambian company from South Africa. The two drivers, Louis Johanes Botha and Jacobus Marthinus Andreas appeared before principle resident magistrate Frank Tembo on a charge of theft of goods on transit. Evidence before the court was that on February 6, 2001, while working with Zambians, Adrian Banda and Rueben Hampela, they allegedly stole 3,520 bags of mealie-meal valued at K95,040,000 from three trucks which were conveying the bags from Meway Procurement and Trading of South Africa to C and S Investment in Lusaka. During continued trial a witness for C and S Investment Sunday Maluba, the company accountant told the court that his firm had ordered the mealie-meal from South Africa and confirmed with the suppliers (Meway) that the consignment was being sent. But the drivers upon arrival in Lusaka allegedly off loaded the mealie-meal at a warehouse in Chinika area instead of C and S Investment. Mr Maluba said he intercepted the truck on its way back to South Africa without the mealie-meal. He said he questioned the drivers on the where about of the mealie-meal who later led him to a warehouse in the industrial area of Lusaka. All the accused are on bail and trial continues on March 25. And a senior manager at Sun Hotel in Livingstone who was charged with possession of drugs was yesterday acquitted of the case. Senior resident magistrate Christofer Syachifula, acquitted Bruce Williams , 32, warehouse manager who was arrested on January 17 for allegedly being in possession of 04g of marijuana and was later released on bond. In passing judgment, Mr Syachifula said Mr Williams had been acquitted because the evidence was based on tip from public and that no one appeared to adduce evidence. The accused had no knowledge of the drugs, and there was enough evidence to show the drugs had been planted , as three workers involved had testified that they had been sent to plant the drugs.
Refugees denied right to information (Times of Zambia, 17/05) - Government has bemoaned the continuous denial on the right of information and communication to refugees in Southern Africa by society unknowingly. Information and Broadcasting Deputy Minister Webby Chipili said the refugees have been denied information and communication for them to make informed decisions. Mr Chipili said though most of the problems faced by the refugees such as provision of basics were being tackled, information on how to deal with poverty, HIV/AIDS, reproductive health, violence and gender imbalance had been denied. The deputy minister said this during the official launch of the information and communication rights for refugees in Southern Africa at the Commonwealth Youth Centre yesterday. The workshop was organised by Africa Literature Centre (ALC) and funded by the World Association of Christian Communicators in the African Region (WACC-AR). He said refugees did not even have access to the major sources of information such newspapers, radios and television. "Refugees cannot express themselves to the rest of the world not because they do not want, but because they have no access to communication channels," he said. He challenged the workshop participants drawn across the region to seriously address the apparent information imbalance between refugees and the rest of the society. He called on all the co-operating partners to come up with the means to help refugees get attention from the people in society. And the minister said Zambia currently has 250,000 refugees from Angola, Congo and other war-torn countries. And ALC director Jackson Mbewe said the workshop was aimed creating awareness among society on the refugees' right to information. "Refugees should be afforded the opportunity to express their views on issues that affect them." The three-day workshop has attracted participants from Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Botswana, Malawi, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Ghana, Cameroun, Rwanda and Zambia to work out a lasting solution on the right to information.
Zambia to integrate long-time refugees into local communities (Lusaka, Sapa-AFP, 16/05) - Zambia plans to integrate long-time refugees into local communities under a project called the Zambia Initiative that is expected to cost five million dollars, a UN agency for refugees said Thursday. "The Zambia Initiative has the advantage of addressing both issues of durable solutions for refugees and burden-sharing with the host communities," a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesman here, Kelvin Shimo told AFP. "It will facilitate the local integration of refugees and accord high priority to the development of refugee-hosting areas," Shimo said. Zambia hosts more than 290,000 refugees, mainly from neighbouring Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The first refugees arrived from Angola in 1966. "Since then, many refugee children have been born on its soil, many speak the local language and have picked up local cultural habits," Shimo said. The Zambia Initiative will involve the development of small-scale projects in sectors like agriculture, healthcare, education and infrastructure in areas near the refugee camp. "In this context, Zambia has indicated that a greater freedom of movement would be allowed for refugees outside the refugee camps or settlements," Shimo said. The initial project will take place in western Zambia near the Myukwayukwa and Nangweshi refugee camp, which shelter Angolan refugees.
Positive feedback on refugee initiative (Irin, 13/05) - Donor envoys have reacted "positively" to a new initiative aimed at developing the impoverished local communities that host refugees in western Zambia, a UNHCR spokesman told IRIN on Monday. A consultative forum of representatives of donor embassies, the Zambian government and the UN refugee agency UNHCR, met in Lusaka on Monday to discuss funding for projects under the "Zambia Initiative" - an ambitious programme to help integrate refugees through the development of the local economy. The rationale for the project is based on the acknowledgment that living conditions of some of the host communities in western Zambia are poorer than those they are sheltering. That is despite the potential wealth of the remote region, bordering Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which for decades has shouldered the burden of refugee inflows. The Zambian government-proposed initiative is a "kind of thank you" to the neglected local communities who are hosting an estimated 150,000 refugees, UNHCR spokesman Kelvin Shimo told IRIN. The initiative aims to stem budding resentment towards the refugees by linking relief and development. The Zambia Initiative aims to attract US $5 million in seed money for a range of poverty alleviation projects in agriculture, health, education and infrastructure in the districts neighbouring the refugee camps of Nangweshi and Mayukwayukwa. It is hoped that with donor assistance some of the small-scale schemes could be up and running by the end of this year.
Zambia, EU mend ties (Zambia Daily Mail, 10/05) - The European Union (EU) says its relationship with Zambia has returned to normal following the two parties successful negotiations to resolve contentious issues regard budgetary support programmes to the country. EU delegation leader, Jochen Krebs, said this in a statement in Lusaka yesterday during reception to mark the European Day at his residence. Last year, the EU suspended US$75 million aid in Balance of Payments(BOP) support ci poor governance record by the Zambian government. Zambias relations with the EU were also severely strained following misgivings on the outcome of last years December 27 general elections. I would like to thank the government team for its commitment to find lasting solutions. These steps taken, the first signature under the first five-year programme of the Cotonou Agreement is ahead, He said. Dr Krebs also said he was happy with the recent Zambian cabinet decision to ratify the Cotonou Agreement, a step he noted formed the legal basis for a 20-year partnership with EU. As a friend and long term partner of Zambia, he said, the EU would encourage the government to fulfill its part to fight against corruption, improve and maintain a good macroeconomic policy and improve public services and infrastructure. We, as a commission, promise on our part to stay with a long term vision for Zambia, to and to avoid imposing top-down technocratic solutions and to assist in building lasting ca in the government and private sector. We are also keen to help Zambia in finding its place in regional integration, he said. Dr Krebs also promised increased assistance to Africa, especially with the new hope pro under the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD). He noted the significance Zambias contributions to COMESA and SADC. Europe needs Zambia, not only as a trading partner, but we also want to count Zambia the protagonists for democracy, human rights and good governance in Africa, he said. Chief guest at the reception, Energy Minister, Kaunda Lembalemba, said relations between Zambia and the EU were governed by the Cotonou Agreement that was negotiated as th successor agreement to the Lome Convention. Mr Lembalemba said Zambia remained committed to the eradication of poverty through sustainable economic development and the entrenchment of democracy. He said without democracy, rule of law, respect for human rights, strong institutions and governance, there would be no economic growth. Among the guests were former president Frederick Chiluba, several government minister and United Party for National Development president Anderson Mazoka.
Zambia government defrauded of $6 million (Financial Gazette, 09/05) - International wheeler-dealer Ari Ben-Menashe, paid millions by the Zimbabwe government to spruce up its tattered image, conned the administration of former Zambian president Frederick Chiluba of more than US$6 million (about $330 million at the official exchange rate) three years ago, it was established this week. The London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA), in a determination just made public, has ordered Ben-Menashe and his Carlington Sales Company to pay back US$6 108 822 plus interest for failing to supply impoverished Zambia with 50 000 tonnes of maize it paid for in 1998. The judgment was made by arbitrator Axel H Baum after leading South African bank Nedcor Bank Limited, acting on behalf of the Zambian government, appealed to the international court because Ben-Menashe had refused to pay back the money after failing to deliver the maize. But the money trail might prove elusive and just as hazy as the underworld of international wheeling and dealing, as Nedcor has found out. Willem Kruger, the bank's head for legal affairs, told the Financial Gazette that Carlington has "liquidated itself" to avoid repaying the money it conned out of the Zambian authorities. "We are unable to effect our rights in terms of the arbitration because Carlington has liquidated itself," Kruger said by telephone from Johannesburg yesterday. According to court documents, Zambia's Food Reserve Agency was introduced to Ben-Menashe in 1997. The agency then entered into an agreement with the former spy in Israel's Mossad agency to buy 50 000 tonnes of maize from Carlington, one of the businessman's firms. Ben-Menashe, at the centre of a court case in Zimbabwe after allegedly trapping opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai into a plot to assassinate President Robert Mugabe, was initially paid US$2.4 million by the Zambian government in 1997 as a deposit for the maize.
He was further paid other amounts to total US$7 746 108 by April 1999 after a new contract was negotiated and the US$2.4 million was carried over into the new 1998 corn contract. But the controversial businessman began to prevaricate when asked to supply the maize saying part of the payment for the maize deal was for the "lobbying" work he did on behalf of Chiluba and the Zambian government and that the US$2.4 million was never meant to be carried forward into the 1998 corn account. He alleged that some of the money meant for him for both the maize deal and the lobby work had disappeared because of rampant corruption involving senior Zambian government officials under Chiluba, including the president's close advisers. Ben-Menashe said he was forced to bribe many influential Zambians and claimed that a former leading opposition politician, Paul Tembo, was brutally murdered in Lusaka around that time because he was going to testify on his behalf. Baum, the sole arbitrator, dismissed Ben-Menashe's defence and ruled that the former spy's offer to provide evidence of rampant corruption in Chiluba's government was "clouded with references to the need for prior approval from some nebulous authorities" and was only meant to delay judgment. The maize deal has attracted immense media scrutiny in Zambia and internationally because it allegedly involves former senior members of the Chiluba cabinet such as finance minister Edith Nawakwi, now in opposition, and Chiluba's special adviser Donald Chanda. The LCIA, whose investigations give a glimpse into the murky underworld of so-called international lobbyists such as Ben-Menashe, was instituted after the former Israeli spy tried to wriggle out of his obligations to deliver the maize by inferring that the money for the deal was diverted to "special projects" demanded by Chiluba.
In the complex arrangement, Ben-Menashe - a self-proclaimed admirer of Mugabe - was also paid various sums by the Zambian government for "international lobbying" while at the same time collecting millions in hard currency to supply maize to the drought-stricken country. Ben-Menashe's Canadian-based Dickens and Madson public relations company has since been employed by the Zimbabwean government and the ruling ZANU PF party to lobby internationally to improve Zimbabwe's battered image. Dickens and Madson, which is supposed to have secretly recorded senior Zimbabwean opposition leaders plotting to kill Mugabe last year, is involved in the treason court case against Tsvangirai where its video tapes form the key evidence that might be presented by the prosecution. The Canada-based businessman, who has been in and out of Harare since the video tapes were broadcast leading to the charge against Tsvangirai and two senior members of his party, says he has now distanced himself from the case because he is preoccupied with lobbying for Zimbabwe. The LCIA has ordered Ben-Menashe to pay Nedcor US$4 988 508 for breach of contract and interest of US$1 120 313. The businessman will also pay the costs of the arbitration court amounting to 255 213 British pounds. Kruger said Nedcor was participating in Carlington's liquidation process to try to recover some of its money and did not rule out pursuing Ben-Menashe himself. "We are certainly investigating whatever we can do . . . we are looking for alternative means to recover the money," Kruger said.
New initiative to integrate refugees (Irin, 08/05) - An ambitious project is underway in Zambia to integrate refugees into their host community while helping the local region to develop, UNHCR said in a statement on Wednesday. The Zambia Initiative, proposed by the Zambian government with the support of the refugee agency UNHCR and several donors, is a "holistic approach aimed at linking development to relief assistance and addressing both the needs of refugees and the host population," the statement said. Among its many aims, the initiative seeks to change the perception that refugees are a burden to their host communities. "We never thought that refugees could be agents of development," a local chief was quoted by UNHCR as saying. "We thought they were just here to cut our trees and use our water." The initial pilot project is focused on the Western Province of Zambia, an area with a long history of hosting refugees. The region is home to the Nangweshi refugee camp and the Myukwayukwa settlement, and still faces continued refugee inflows from Angola. The number of refugees in the Western Province is estimated at 150,000, including a number of spontaneously-settled refugees. The region faces challenging conditions, including the annual flooding of the Zambezi river plains and poor rural infrastructure. But it also presents great potential, with immense alluvial plains providing resources for cattle grazing, irrigated crop production or fishing, the statement noted. Refugees are expected to be "agents of development" by contributing to the local economy. For instance, many refugees in Zambia have been allocated enough land to enable them to produce export-quantities of sweet potatoes, thus bringing much-needed foreign currency into the country, UNHCR said. In January last year, the then Assistant High Commissioner for refugees, Soren Jessen-Petersen, visited Zambia and discussed the possibility of UNHCR playing a catalytic role in encouraging donors and development agencies to contribute to the development of infrastructure in refugee-hosting communities. Concrete proposals for initially small-scale projects were put forward in four major sectors - agriculture, healthcare, education and infrastructure. The first proposed projects will represent an investment of US $5 million. Donors are now expected to provide small grants quickly to jump-start the initiative, allowing some of the projects to start as early as this year. "The Zambia Initiative has the advantage of addressing both issues of durable solutions for refugees and burden-sharing with their host communities. It will facilitate the local integration of refugees and accord high priority to the development of refugee-hosting areas. It will also safeguard and improve the quality of the asylum system, since Zambia is considered a model in this regard," UNHCR said.
Government makes u-turn on Todd's citizenship (Financial Gazette, 30/05) - The government on Tuesday this week filed papers of appeal at the Supreme Court seeking the setting aside of a High Court judgment made earlier this month in a citizenship case involving human rights activist Judith Todd. This effectively means that the Supreme Court will set aside the High Court judgment and Todd will lose her Zimbabwean citizenship until the matter is heard. However Todds lawyers Gill Godlonton and Gerrans yesterday said they were surprised by the governments about-turn in the case but said they were making an urgent counter-application to invalidate the governments appeal. A spokesman for the law firm said the government had earlier this month conceded that it could not strip Todd of her Zimbabwean citizenship, even if she could qualify for a passport from another country. "What this means is that it effectively reverses the High Court judgment," the spokesman said. "The government is arguing that the judge erred in his determination of the case. "We are surprised that the government is making the appeal after conceding that they could not strip my client of her citizenship." The spokesman said the law firm would make a counter application to the Supreme Court because by setting aside the High Courts judgment, Todd would be prejudiced of her citizenship until the matter is heard. "We do not mind really about the appeal but it should not prejudice my clients right as a Zimbabwean citizen," the spokesman said. "This is why we are making the appeal today (yesterday) because the appeal effectively sets aside the High Court judgment." High Court judge Justice Sandra Munyira, in a judgment handed down earlier this month, ruled in Todds favour who had challenged Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede for refusing to renew her expired passport. She argued that she was a New Zealand citizen because her parents were born in that country. The judge then said Mudede should stop administering the Citizenship Amendment Act because he was misinterpreting the law, which gave dual citizens until January 6 2002 to renounce their foreign citizenship. Mudede had added another dimension to the law by saying people like Todd, who had a claim to foreign citizenship, had to renounce that citizenship even if they had no dual citizenship. There was no immediate comment from Mudedes lawyer, Nelson Munyira of the Attorney-Generals office. Mudede himself was reported to be out of his Harare office until Monday.
Half of Zimbabwe needs food aid (Financial Gazette, 30/05) - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) yesterday said about six million Zimbabweans, almost half the population of the country, need emergency food aid and some of the hunger victims could die. WFP spokeswoman Makena Walker said the estimates followed joint WFP-FAO missions from mid-April to the middle of May to assess the humanitarian crisis unfolding in drought-sapped southern Africa. In a statement highlighting the results of the missions, the two organisations said: "The longest dry spell experienced in Zimbabwe in 20 years has made the food situation especially dire. "This has been compounded by the sharp fall in maize produced by commercial farmers, who normally produce one-third of the total cereals, but whose farming operations were disrupted by the ongoing land reform activities and widespread illegal invasions. "The overall cereal deficit is a staggering 1.5 million tonnes, even taking into account anticipated commercial imports and pledged food aid. Some six million people in rural and urban areas are estimated to need emergency food aid." The government has persistently denied that its controversial land reforms under which it seizes farms without compensation has caused the looming starvation. Walker told the Financial Gazette: "These (the six million) are the people who are in need and it is going to get worse as the months go past and people finish their harvests. We are looking at feeding six million people within the next one year." The Zimbabwe government, which has just declared the drought a national disaster after months of denying that serious food shortages were in the offing, says it plans to import 170 000 tonnes of grain before the end of this month and between 800 000 and 1.2 million tonnes between June 2002 and May 2003 to avert starvation. The projected food imports are seen costing the government, reeling from an unprecedented foreign currency crisis triggered by skewed policies and poor exports, more than US$165 million ($9 billion), money it does not have. Meanwhile, the WFP is already running a food aid programme in Zimbabwe targeting more than 500 000 people in six provinces, but there has been a sluggish response from the international community to the agencys appeals for aid. Yesterdays WFP-FAO statement said: "Zimbabwe is facing a serious food crisis, even at harvest time, and unless international food assistance is provided urgently and adequately, there will be a serious famine and loss of life in the coming months." Over the next year, nearly four million tonnes of food will have to be imported to meet minimum food requirements for southern Africa, where also Malawi, Zambia and several other countries have been hit by the drought. Almost 10 million people already need emergency food assistance in the region, the WFP and FAO said. "Given the gravity of the findings, the two Rome-based agencies today (Wednesday) called on donor governments worldwide to respond quickly and generously with food aid donations to avoid widespread hunger from developing into a humanitarian disaster," they said. Western donors have told Zimbabwes government, accused of stealing a presidential election in March, it has to change its governance before they can offload huge amounts of aid to help the starving.
New mining incentives under threat (Financial Gazette, 30/05) - The Zimbabwe government, which itself says it is eyeing a major stake in the countrys mining industry, has announced measures to breathe life into the sector which include the granting of offshore foreign accounts to major mining houses. Analysts however said the incentives would be clouded by President Robert Mugabes publicly announced intention to seek a stake in major mines and Minister of Mines Edward Chindori-Chiningas statement that he will enact legislation to force the "indigenisation" of the mining industry. The package of incentives announced during the weekend Chamber of Mines general meeting in Nyanga includes the fixing of income tax for mines at 15 percent and the deduction of all capital expenditure "at the rate of 100 percent" of costs of equipment for exploration, development and operating. The ministry has also granted mining firms the right to market their minerals directly to customers, "subject to an adequate monitoring arrangement and reporting obligations" by the miners. Consultant economist John Robertson said while the incentives were welcome and might attract investors, statements by Mugabe and Chindori-Chininga gave "mixed signals" internationally. "It gives a mixed picture. The impression it creates is that the government is giving with one hand and threatening to take away with the other. The threats, even if they are mere threats, could stop new investment," Robertson told the Financial Gazette. The government, which over the years has complained of capital flight because of inadequate controls in mining, has introduced "ring fences" and royalty taxes varying from one percent to 10 percent for all minerals produced in the country. Royalties will be paid ranging from one percent for coal, two percent for base metals and up to 10 percent for precious stones such as diamonds and emeralds, at the "gross fair market value" of the minerals. To deal with tax evasion, the government announced that each separate mine would now be "ring fenced" for the purpose of accounting and taxation. This means that a profitable mine belonging to a bigger group can now no longer escape paying tax because the whole group has recorded a loss. Each mine is expected to provide its own books of accounts. But the "ring fence" measure could be relaxed and separate mines allowed to combine their accounts "in exceptional situations where a combination of mining operations of a similar nature, for a limited period of time, will avert a mine closure", says the governments "Fiscal Incentives for Mining" document. Zimbabwes diverse mining industry, which varies from base metals to highly precious stones such as diamonds and emeralds, employs about 55 000 workers and accounts for four percent of the countrys gross domestic product. The industry has been hard hit by a foreign currency crisis, high interest rates of the past and depressed international prices for many base metals at present. It has also been hit by the loss of skilled manpower through migration and surging deaths from the killer AIDS disease. At least 45 gold mines have closed down during the last three years because of the high cost to extract the ore that is matched by depressed international prices for bullion. Zimbabwe has the second largest platinum resources in the world. It is also the worlds largest producer of high-grade chrome and the second largest producer of ferro-chrome, graphite and coal in Africa.
Border jumpers robbed by armed robbers (The Herald, 29/05) - Two Mutare border jumpers lost more than $2 million to five armed robbers near Forbes Border post on Monday this week while on their way to Mozambique. The two women had taken a secluded footpath as they tried to avoid immigration officials. But they were allegedly followed by five men armed with a pistol who had overhead their travel arrangements with a taxi driver at city hotel in Mutare. Police spokesman Inspector Andrew Phiri said as the two women approached the border on foot they were confronted by the robbers who pretended to be immigration officials. He said the women were ordered to hand over all their money before the robbers fled into the bush. Insp Phiri said although the women had illegally tried to enter Mozambique, they later sought the help of the police at the border post. Subsequent investigations led to the arrests of two suspects at a local hotel where they had booked to stay for a week. "The women were able to identify the two as having been part of the gang that had robbed them," Insp Phiri said. He said police in Mutare were still pursuing the other three robbers believed to be staying in Dangamvura. Traders who illegally enter neighbouring countries such as South Africa risk drowning at the border or being raped.
Zimbabwe to stop all payments to white farmers for land (Harare, Sapa-AFP, 24/05) - Zimbabwe will stop paying white farmers for improvements to land seized under the government's controversial land reform scheme, agriculture minister Joseph Made said Friday, according to the official ZIANA news agency. "We will be making a full statement that we are suspending compensation for improvements on farms," Made told a workshop for newly resettled farmers. "We want to put the resources into investment that can see us support new farmers to ensure that we have food at our table," he said. Until now, the government had agreed to pay for improvements to the land - investments like buildings, irrigation systems and dams - in installments over a period of years, but not for the land itself. An official from the Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU), which represents 4,500 mostly white farmers, said some landowners had begun receiving payments from government. But the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said if true the statement "removes the last glimmer of hope that farmers will be treated by Minister Made in a fair and lawful manner with regard to land acquisition." Politial violence, targetting mainly opposition supporters, has marred the latest round of land reforms since they began two years ago. Made told the workshp that government had so far taken 7.4 million hectares of land and divided it among 210,520 black families for small-scale farming. Another 54,000 people have applied for land under a scheme aimed at taking entire commercial farms and giving them to black owners, but only 13,000 had so far been allocated farms, he said. Although numbering less than one percent of the population, white Zimbabweans had owned about 30 percent of all the country's land. The land reforms have targetted as much as 95 percent of white-owned lands. Since the March 9-11 presidential elections, the CFU says at least 250 white Zimbabwean farmers have been forced off their properties by pro-government militants and new settlers. Some of those white farm families were given only hours to leave their homes, without being allowed to take their possessions with them, CFU says.
WFP seeks to extend food aid in Harare (Johannesburg, Business Day, 24/05) - As famine stalks the once selfsufficient Zimbabwe, the World Food Programme (WFP) is making moves to extend its food relief programme to the country's impoverished urban areas. The WFP is currently assessing the starvation levels in cities and towns with a view to providing humanitarian assistance to urban dwellers who are not already part of its feeding programme. More than 1-million people in Zimbabwe's urban areas are facing hunger. WFP programmes officer Willem Thuring said his organisation was worried about food shortages in urban areas. "While the current emergency operation of the WFP in Zimbabwe targets the most vulnerable population in rural areas, we have also been concerned at the increasing level of food insecurity in some of the urban centres," he said. "The WFP has, together with other partners, carried out some preliminary assessments of the nature and extent of these food insecurity problems. A possible response is still at a preparatory stage and therefore the WFP is not in a position to provide details now until assessments are complete." The Rome-based food relief agency is currently feeding more than 600000 people in Zimbabwe's sprawling and povertystricken rural areas. The organisation has warned the number of people in need of food aid could double soon. It is estimated that more than 3-million people are facing starvation. However, the government has announced that about 7,8-million people of which over 5million of them are children will need humanitarian assistance over the next 18 months. Of the 7,8-million people affected by the drought and policy-induced food scarcity, 5,9million are in rural areas while 1,9-million are in urban areas.
Tutu forms welfare trust to assist Zimbabwe farmers (Zimbabwe Independent, 24/05) - Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu and donors have formed a welfare organisation to assist Zimbabwe's embattled commercial farmers and their workers. The Zimbabwe Agricultural Welfare Trust (ZAWT) was established recently in Britain to provide a focal point for international support for the beleaguered farming community. It was registered with the UK Charities Commission and is accountable to the Charities Commission of England and Wales. The organisation has two Zimbabwean and seven British trustees. Tutu - who of late has expressed concern at the Zimbabwe situation including President Robert Mugabe's disputed re-election - is the patron of the trust, while humanitarian activist James Maberly is the chair. The veteran anti-apartheid campaigner and 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner recently said Mugabe had "gone bonkers in a big way" and criticised the South African government for endorsing the Zimbabwean leader's controversial election victory. Maberly was born in Kenya and was brought up in Zimbabwe. He now works from his studio in Suffolk holding regular exhibitions across the UK and travels periodically to Zimbabwe. "Our mission is to undertake the task of alleviating the hardship and suffering amongst members of the farming community of Zimbabwe, namely farmers, farm workers, others connected with agriculture and the families of all such persons who have been directly affected by civil unrest," said ZAWT administrator, Laoe Watson-Smith. "We undertake to provide assistance with and promotion of physical and mental health, education, financial needs and general welfare of the agricultural community," he said. Watson-Smith said Zimbabweans and the international community could ill-afford to ignore the plight of local farmers and their workers. "Agriculture is the bedrock of the ailing Zimbabwean economy, yet the agricultural community at all levels has borne the brunt of these events," he said "Gangs of self-styled 'war veterans' have invaded farms, intimidated and assaulted farmers and their workforce, appropriated or destroyed livestock and property." He said Zimbabwe's violent and haphazard land reforms have created a humanitarian crisis of horrific proportions. "Apart from the documented cases of torture and killings on Zimbabwean farms, numerous labourers have been rendered homeless, jobless and without access to education and healthcare as farms have had to be abandoned and businesses closed," Watson-Smith pointed out. However, the ZAWT said it recognised the need for fundamental land reform in Zimbabwe and the right of all Zimbabweans to democratically determine their futures. "ZAWT has no political allegiance or agenda," said Watson-Smith. "Its aims are purely humanitarian in that by supporting the individual people, families and communities who make up the human side of Zimbabwean agriculture, we may contribute to keeping a key part of Zimbabwean society, as well as its economy, alive."
At least 75,000 tonnes of imported maize set to ease current mealie-meal shortage (The Herald, 23/05) - AT least 75 000 tonnes of maize imported from Kenya, China and Brazil arrived at Beira Port in Mozambique and began rolling into the country last week. In addition, several tonnes of the commodity procured from South Africa at a cost of R144 million (about US$13 million) would continue coming into the country through the Beitbridge or Plumtree Borders to Aspindale, Bulawayo and Chegutu depots. The Government has so far paid more than US$75,4 million since the maize imports began a few months ago, of which R144 million (about US$13 million) were paid for the South African maize imports. On average the landing price for all the maize consignments coming into the country was between US$225 to US$250 a tonne. It costs US$225 a tonne to buy maize from Kenya up to Harare and Brazil and China (US$130 and US$136 a tonne) up to Maputo and Beira respectively. The maize from South Africa cost the country US$175 a tonne ex-silo but the GMB would incur extra US$65 a tonne as transport cost. Grain Marketing Board acting chief executive Ms Joan Mtukwa recently said that large consignments of maize would be ferried into the country through Chicualacuala and Forbes borders beginning. Ms Mtukwa said a ship with 20 000 tonnes of yellow maize from China arrived at Beira Port two weeks ago while another consignment of 25 000 tonnes from Brazil arrived in Maputo a week ago. "By the end of this month all the maize from Brazil and China will have been ferried to our depots at Aspindale, Chegutu and Bulawayo. "A ship from China has already docked at Beira and we have a team to oversee the off loading and transportation of the consignment into the country. "The ship arrived (two weeks) and another consignment from Brazil (arrived last week) in Maputo. "Another 30 000 tonnes of white maize are on their way from Kenya. It should be in the country by the end of this month," she said. Sources said new multi-million dollar maize contracts have been signed between the GMB and some suppliers for the supply of a further 50 000 tonnes from South Africa and an additional 30 000 tonnes from Kenya of white maize by the end of this month. The deliveries will bring to 400 000 tonnes of maize bought since Zimbabwe began importing maize a few months ago. Ms Mtukwa said the maize consignments were sufficient to feed the country up to the end of July and thereafter, the country's stocks would need to be replenished. The country this year anticipates a lower 2001/02 maize harvest of about 594 500 tonnes, a 60 percent reduction from last year's 1,5 million tonnes owing to the severe drought which hit the country. Although the country is expected to produce 594 500 tonnes of both white and yellow maize, only 59 900 tonnes were expected to be delivered to the Grain Marketing Board, some firms and other buyers. The country has faced logistical problems importing maize from South Africa since it was the sole provider of all maize imported and by opening new horizons, it was a sure way of ensuring that the country does not starve. The Government would import 2,5 million tonnes of maize after Zimbabwe experienced a massive deficit for the 2000/2001 season.The country's neighbours Zambia and Malawi were also facing severe food shortages as a result of the prolonged dry spell this year.
Famine stalks Harare (Daily News, 23/05) - May is normally a month of plenty in Zimbabwe, as farmers harvest their crops ahead of the austral winter. But this year, rural granaries are as empty as the dusty urban store shelves, and the government has declared a state of disaster because of the desperate shortage of food in most of the southern African country. Nowhere is the crisis as severe as the already dry provinces of southern Zimbabwe. "We didn't really get anything - only a few melons," said grey-haired Francis Sibanda. "The rain was not fair, so we couldn't harvest anything. Now we go for sometimes a week without food," he said. His wife spends the days scavenging for berries and wild fruit in the nearby mountains. He sometimes sells a chicken alongside the highway that passes 100 meters outside his village, but that money only buys enough maize meal to last a few days, and he is running out of chickens. "If we can find (maize meal), we don't make the thick sadza, we just make a thin porridge so the mealie meal can last another day," one neighbour said. Most people in the villages in Lukosi district, about 130 kilometres east of Victoria Falls, said they were relying on relatives, friends and neighbours to survive - hoping that some distant cousin working in a city or overseas will send home money or food to share with the village. "Now we are waiting for the neighbours, to see if they find some food. We are living communally, to make sure no one is dying," said Ruth Ndlovu, who was using her cooking pots for stools as she had nothing to put in them. Even in these rural areas, people have heard of government plans to import maize. But everyone in this cluster of villages thinks they know why no food is coming to them - politics. "Those areas where the imported maize is going, is where the people voted for the government. That is why we are not getting food," Ndlovu said. "Last time when the maize was brought, it was said it was only for the ruling party supporters - the war vets, the army. Sometimes if shops manage to get mealie meal, it's only 10 bags. When the maize is disbursed, they say it is only for Zanu PF, not for MDC supporters, and they make sure it does not come." Voters in southern Zimbabwe turned out strongly in favour of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change in the March presidential election and the 2000 parliamentary elections. Most of the people in these provinces are from the Ndebele minority, and none of them have forgotten the ruling Zanu PF's bloody 1980s campaign to wipe out "dissidents," which left thousands dead or missing. During that campaign, church groups accused the government of using the army to block food deliveries and to destroy food supplies during the 1984 drought. The memories have left a suspicion of President Mugabe that's hard to erase in this region, especially after the violence-wracked presidential campaign that saw thousands of people - mainly opposition supporters - beaten, abducted or otherwise intimidated, according to rights groups. At least 55 people have died so far this year in political violence, rights groups say. Aid agencies, however, are trying to respond to the crisis without getting entangled in the political drama. The UN's World Food Program suspended its emergency food deliveries for the two weeks around the March 9-11 election. - Mail and Guardian, South Africa $55m mission hospital to be opened in Chiweshe.
Zimbabwe students turn to South Africa after exam ban (The Daily News, 23/05) - South African private schools are being inundated with requests for help from parents of Zimbabwean schoolchildren who have been banned from writing foreign exams. The Ministry of Education, Sport and Culture told schools at the end of March that they would no longer be allowed to enter for foreign exams such as GCSE and that all schools would have to enter their candidates for examinations offered by the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council. About 2 500 pupils have been affected by the change in regulations, which has come into effect more than halfway through their course. Since April, private schools in South Africa have received daily calls from parents hoping their children will be able to complete their exams here. The southern African representative for Cambridge Examinations, Ray Howarth, confirmed the last Cambridge A level examinations would be delivered to Zimbabwe in June due to the changed laws. Howarth said the restriction meant pupils would not be able to write the November exams. Parents who could afford it were approaching schools in neighbouring countries as they had been caught off-guard. Although only a few South African private schools offered the British O and A level exams, others had offered to help. Kearsney College marketing director Colleen Ross said her school had told the British Council it was willing to set up the school as an exam centre and pupils could register and write exams through the council.
Tourism promotion launched (The Herald, 22/05) - Rainbow Tourism Group (RTG) will launch an aggressive domestic tourism promotion on its 10th anniversary to inculcate a tourism culture among Zimbabweans. RTG chief executive Mr Herbert Nkala, said the anniversary promotion will run for 90 days and will make exclusive offers never seen before in the tourism industry. "To celebrate its anniversary, RTG is launching a very aggressive domestic tourism promotion aimed exclusively at the local market and the promotion will be a way of thanking the company's 14 000 shareholders and other customers for continuously supporting us over the past 10 years," Mr Nkala said. He said RTG hotels and lodges would participate in the promotion, adding that details of their participation would soon be made public. RTG owns majority shares in the Sheraton Harare Hotel and Towers, New Ambassador Hotel, Kadoma Hotel and Conference Centre. The group also owns Matobo Hills Lodge in Bulawayo, Rainbow Hotel in Victoria Falls, Sikumi Tree Lodge, Sable lodge, Konondo Tree Lodge, Khatshana Tree Lodge all in Hwange and a lodge at Great Zimbabwe. In addition to holiday promotions, RTG will also stage numerous and exciting activities. The company, wholly owned by Government at its formation was once described as being in corporate intensive care and in urgent remedy for a turnaround. The company then implemented an aggressive turnaround strategy, which addressed financial viability, a lack of business culture and growth of the company among other issues. Following the aggressive implementation of the recovery plan, RTG surpassed expectations and recorded profit in its first year of operation. The government approved recommendations to list RTG on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) in 1999, a company which had already earned itself the reputation of being one of the fastest growing in the tourism industry. RTG managed to attract a global hospitality giant, Group Accor of France, which owns 35 percent of shares in RTG as its strategic partner. The government is the second largest shareholder in RTG with 30 percent shares and employees and private investors take up the remaining 35 percent. Accor, which recently launched the world-renowned Mercure Brand in Victoria Falls, was awarded a management contract for Rainbow Hotels, a division of RTG. Starwood Hotels and Resorts worldwide, another hospitality giant currently has the management contract for Sheraton Hotel and Towers. "RTG has therefore been cushioned and leveraged by its strategic partners during these difficult times in the tourism industry and the group's performance reflects the benefits of these alliances," Mr Nkala said. Like the rest of the tourism industry, RTG has been caught up in the recession but has performed comparatively better than other players.
UK immigration authorities manhandle Zimbabwean (The Herald, 21/05) - Zimbabwe's sports consultant and chief executive of World Mark Sports International Mr Temba Mliswa was yesterday questioned and detained at Britain's Gatwick International Airport. Mr Mliswa voluntarily refused to enter Britain after being subjected to what he described as inhuman political interrogation by British immigration officials for his pro-Zanu-PF sentiments. He is scheduled to arrive today after paying for his own ticket back home. Mr Mliswa, who on Sunday returned to his United Kingdom base after accompanying British soccer star Andy Cole on his three-day visit, was surprised that immigration officials quizzed him on why he makes several visits to Zimbabwe and also about his political affiliation. The humiliating ordeal even involved hours of detention for the sports trainer who flatly refused to divulge his political affiliation and queried why he was being subjected to such harassment when he had a student visa which expires in 2005. Mr Mliswa was, in the process, manhandled by the British immigration officers who summoned colleagues to throw him into the detention camp and in the process sustained a cut on the head. "As soon as I showed my passport the immigration officer asked me why I make frequent visits to Zimbabwe. I was then led into a detention room where I was searched. I tried to reason with the officer that I had a lesson at 11 am but he said they were investigating me. "I was then led out for further questioning where I was required to answer 63 questions. I only answered five and when I noticed that it was becoming political I refused. That is when they asked me to go back to the detention room and I refused. "Four guys then manhandled me and I sustained a cut on the head," said Mr Mliswa in a telephone interview last night from Gatwick Airport. Police were summoned but told the immigration officers that they should let him go. An ambulance was then called and took Mr Mliswa to hospital where he was attended to. The doctor who attended him refused to give him his medical report but he got one from the paramedics. The chief immigration officer who was called to intervene asked Mr Mliswa if there was any political violence in Zimba-bwe, which could lead to him being in political asylum. Mr Mliswa is a student at Luton University where he is studying for a BA degree in Sports Science and Fitness. The head of department at Luton University, Mr Ian Johns, yesterday confirmed that Mr Mliswa is a fully paid up student in his final year at the university. "He is a full time student and was supposed to come to class today (yesterday). I do not know why he is being denied entry into UK. But he is scheduled to complete his degree this year," said Mr Johns from Luton. British High Commissioner Mr Brian Donnelly said his country does not deport people on political grounds. "People have to satisfy the requirements of the immigration officers for them to be allowed into Britain. I have not heard the case so I cannot make further comments on the issue," said Mr Donnelly. He, however, failed to answer why someone with a student's permit would be subjected to political questioning and such inhuman treatment which British nationals have never experienced in Zimbabwe. Mr Mliswa was in the news when he exposed two MDC legislators Mr Tafadzwa Musekiwa and Mr Job Sikhala for their involvement in a plot to assassinate Cde Mugabe. The two legislators were guests of Mr Mliswa in London last year where they were planning to form a new political party. The two also approached Airforce commander Air Marshall Perence Shiri inviting him to stabilise an MDC government in the event of a coup. The plot was exposed and audio tapes of the meeting with Cde Shiri were played on ZBC.
Government rounds up refugees (The Daily News, 20/05) - The government, reportedly uneasy with the free movement of refugees in the country's urban centres, has decided to round up all refugees not employed or attending school and confine them to Tongogara camp in Chipinge. The move is largely seen as a security precaution by the government because some of the refugees are from countries perceived to be hostile to Zimbabwe. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Zimbabwe is expanding Tongogara camp to accommodate the refugees, should the government go ahead with its plans. Zimbabwe is home to 9 472 refugees from war-ravaged countries such as Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Congo Republic, Angola, Liberia, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Sudan and far-flung Yugoslavia and Afghanistan. About 800 are staying at Tongogara camp, while others live in the country's urban centres. A few of those staying in the urban centres are either employed or are undergoing studies. Tapiwa Huye, the UNHCR assistant programme officer in Zimbabwe, said 20 houses had already been completed at Tongogara camp. Huye said the dwellings would accommodate about 40 families. Another 30 houses are expected to be completed soon to cater for about 60 families, Huye said. The water system at the camp has also been upgraded to serve a larger population. "In the urban centres the cost of living is high," Huye said. "Some of the refugees could end up being destitute or getting involved in illegal activities and prostitution for survival. "Besides, it is government policy that only those refugees who are attending school or in employment will remain in the urban centres." Huye said there were also security concerns in allowing refugees who were not doing anything to stay in urban centres because some could have hidden agendas. "At the moment, we do not know of any such cases, but it can happen," he said. "It is also good for the UNHCR and the government to know where the refugees are at any given time." Isaac Mukaro, the commissioner for refugees in Zimbabwe, declined to comment. In 1999 there were fears that countries perceived to be hostile to Zimbabwe, such as Rwanda and Burundi or the rebel groups they back in the DRC, could send their agents to masquerade as refugees so as to gather security and military information about the country. Relations between Zimbabwe and Rwanda and Burundi have hit rock-bottom because of the war in the DRC, which finds them fighting on opposite sides. Zimbabwe has deployed combat troops, heavy artillery and jet fighters into the DRC to defend the Kinshasa regime from a rebel onslaught sponsored mainly by Rwanda. A peace initiative being brokered by South Africa appears to be crumbling amid reports that Rwanda is amassing troops on the eastern frontier of the DRC. Three years ago Burundi accused Zimbabwe of training and arming anti-government Hutu rebels called Forces for the Defence of Democracy. The government denied this.
Government moves to reassure asian citizens in Zimbabwe (Harare, Sapa-AP, 17/05) - The Zimbabwe government reassured citizens of Asian origin Friday that their businesses and properties would not be seized by ruling party militants. Home Affairs Minister John Nkomo, who is in charge of the police, said threats by militants against the 12,000-strong Asian community were under investigation, the state Herald newspaper reported. It said Andrew Ndlovu, a militant leader of veterans of the guerrilla war that led to independence in 1980, and 12 other "rogue war veterans" were being questioned by police over threats made last month. Ndlovu, quoted in the official Herald on April 24, warned that militants planned a "door to door" campaign to force Asians to hand over business assets to blacks. Nkomo said such threats were spurred by "personal agendas" and took advantage of the government's land reform program that has targeted most white-owned farms for seizure. "Certain statements have been made against some communities, including the Indian community. These statements are just hallucinations," he said. Nkomo asked Asian businessmen to "come out into the open and be counted" in contributing to the country. Ndlovu last month accused Asian businessmen of smuggling hard currency out of the country and charging exorbitant rents for their properties while holding down their employees' wages. Earlier, other government officials had accused Asian shop owners of hoarding and profiteering as the country faced acute shortages of corn meal, sugar, cooking oil and other essential commodities. Asian businessmen, the descendants of immigrants mainly from India and Pakistan, have traditionally controlled many wholesale businesses, retail shops and trading stores in most small towns. Nkomo's remarks came at the end of a week in which the state media has reported police being ordered to evict settlers and squatters from some seized farms, nature conservancies and land owned by churches and other institutions. White farmers, however, have reported little change in the program for them to forfeit their land. Some settlers have moved from black-owned farms to other properties undergoing confiscation. Nearly all the nation's 4,000 white farmers have been served with forfeiture notices. The Commercial Farmers Union has reported at least 250 farmers being driven from their land after receiving threats and ultimatums since disputed presidential elections in March. On Wednesday, the state media said police vowed to stop "disorder" on farms to allow the land redistribution program to proceed without violent disruptions to farm production. With a famine looming, food shortages in a country that was once considered a breadbasket for the region have been blamed on violence accompanying President Robert Mugabe's land program as well as erratic rains. With harvests of corn, the staple food, diminished by about half this year, the United Nations Relief and Recovery Unit has forecast the cash-strapped government will likely need to raise dlrs 345 million to buy food for the 13 million population and avert starvation in the coming year. Annual auctions of tobacco, the biggest hard currency earner, resumed after the government on Thursday backed down in a dispute over prices. It announced it would subsidize tobacco sales and allow growers to keep one fifth of their earnings in foreign currency. The central bank said last month it would only allow tobacco to be sold at an exchange rate of 55 Zimbabwe dollars to one U.S. dollar, even though banks sell U.S. dollars for 220 Zimbabwe dollars. Because tobacco is sold in U.S. dollar prices, the government's fixed exchange rate would not have given growers enough local currency to cover production costs.
Three million face starvation in Zimbabwe (The Mercury, 16/05) - A relief agency on Thursday warned that as many as three million Zimbabweans might face starvation in two weeks' time as the European Union prepared to dispatch a high-level delegation to lobby southern Africa regional leaders to do more to rein in President Robert Mugabe. Previous relief agency estimates have identified about 550 000 people in need of food aid in Zimbabwe. However, the Famine Early Warnings Systems Network said in Harare on Thursday that as many as three million people would need food aid on a daily basis from June. Analysts have previously dismissed the 550 000 figure as an underestimation. Harare economic consultant Eddie Cross said the latest figure - an estimate by the Washington-based famine network which monitors the global food situation - might also be too low. Cross said most of the previous estimates had been based on rural analysis of the food situation without taking into account the many people living in the urban areas who could hardly afford any food items. Zimbabwe's unemployment rate stands at 60 percent. In its Zimbabwe Humanitarian Situation report, the famine network said Zimbabwe needed to mobilise $345-million (R3,5 billion) to import 1,3 to 1,4 million tons of maize to meet the country's consumption requirements this year. The slow international response to a call by the World Food Programme for humanitarian aid to Zimbabwe would exacerbate the food situation. Zimbabwe's food import programme has been hampered by an acute shortage of foreign currency leaving the burden of providing food aid on relief agencies. Reports said a high powered delegation of the European Union would meet SADC regional leaders from Monday to pressure them to act on lawlessness and bad governance in Zimbabwe to put the country back on the road to economic recovery. The EU delegation arrives in Maputo on Monday to meet President Joacquim Chissano. It was also expected to meet Malawi's President Bakili Muluzi, the current SADC chairman, and President Thabo Mbeki. It was not clear whether the team would meet Mugabe. The 15-nation EU has imposed smart sanctions on President Mugabe and his close advisors after accusing the Zimbabwe leader of stealing the March presidential election. The EU has also withdrawn all aid to Zimbabwe citing corruption, skewed economic policies and a haphazard land reform programme. Meanwhile, Denmark has closed its embassy in Zimbabwe in protest at Mugabe's rights abuses. Zimbabweans at the Danish embassy in Harare are demanding hefty severance packages from the Danes. They argue that the embassy closure was unexpected and they had no prospects of getting other jobs. In Harare, three more independent journalists were arrested and charged on Thursday over reports in the last issue of The Sunday Standard that criticised the police, the newspaper said. Editor Bornwell Chakaodza and reporters Farai Mutsaka and Fungayi Kanyuchi were questioned at the main Harare police station before being charged under strict new media laws, said assistant editor Brian Latham. The charges related to two articles carried on Sunday on the importation by police of sophisticated Israeli-built riot control vehicles and alleged police corruption, he said. The three are accused of "abuse of journalist privilege by publishing falsehoods", an offense punishable by up to two years in jail. Chakaodza, the editor, faced two charges for allowing the reports to be published. The three were jailed overnight and are due to appear in court on Saturday, Latham said. Police had no comment.
Three more journalists arrested, charged in Zimbabwe (Harare, Sapa-AP, 16/05) - Updates with journalists jailed overnight in graf 5. Picks up graf 5 pvs: Police had no ... Three more independent journalists were arrested and charged Thursday over reports in the last issue of The Sunday Standard that criticized the police, the newspaper said. Editor Bornwell Chakaodza and reporters Farai Mutsaka and Fungayi Kanyuchi were questioned at the main Harare police station before being charged under strict new media laws, said assistant editor Brian Latham. The charges related to two articles carried Sunday on the importation by police of sophisticated Israeli-built riot control vehicles and alleged police corruption, he said. The three are accused of "abuse of journalist privilege by publishing falsehoods," an offense punishable by up to two years in jail. Chakaodza, the editor, faced two charges for allowing the reports to be published. The three were jailed overnight and were due to appear in court Friday, Latham said. Police had no immediate comment. The newspaper said police had bought the anti-riot tankers, equipped with state-of-the-art surveillance cameras and laser facilities, water cannon and chemical additives, in anticipation of civil unrest in the crumbling economy. Israel's state-run radio Kol Yisrael on Wednesday confirmed the Beit Alfa Trailer Co. had sold the riot equipment to Zimbabwe. Eight other journalists have been arrested under media laws enforced since March on charges of publishing false information. Andrew Meldrum, 50, an American citizen who is the Zimbabwe correspondent of the British newspaper The Guardian, and Lloyd Mudiwa, a reporter with Zimbabwe's only independent daily newspaper are scheduled to appear in court May 22. They were charged over a report in the Daily News about the killing last month - allegedly by ruling party supporters - of a woman near the town of Karoi, 200 kilometers (120 miles) northwest of Harare. Police said the killing never happened, and the Daily News retracted the story. Other journalists who have been charged since March, including a correspondent of the British Daily Telegraph newspaper, are expected to be summoned to court later. New media and security laws were passed by the ruling party in the Harare parliament before the re-election of longtime President Robert Mugabe in disputed presidential polls March 9-11. Human rights groups and opposition activists say the laws are intended to muzzle the media and suppress dissent in Zimbabwe. Chakaodza, a former government spokesman and editor of the state Herald joined The Standard as chief editor on May 1. He was fired from the state media in 1999 for criticizing the government. Information Minister Jonathan Moyo castigated Chakaodza on Monday for alleged incompetence when he edited The Herald and declared "editorial matters at The Standard have fallen into the hands of fools."
South African pubisher granted bail (The Daily News, 14/05) - South African publisher Taco Esgu Kuiper, who was arrested in Harare recently and is now facing 20 counts of fraud and an assault charge, was granted $500 000 bail when he appeared at the Harare Magistrates' Court last Friday. State counsel Ndabezinhle Moyo alleged that Kuiper, 60, the publisher of the business magazine The Investor's Guide, lied to the duty manager at Holiday Inn in Harare on 20 separate occasions that he was a permanent resident in Zimbabwe in a ploy to avoid paying his hotel bills in foreign currency. He had been lying from 31 March, 1999 until it was detected on Saturday last week, the State said. Kuiper gave his home address as Mooy Farm in Karoi whenever he checked in at the hotel. The hotel lost at least US$1 960 (Z$107 8000) in potential foreign currency earnings as a result. Zimbabwean law requires that foreign visitors pay for certain goods and services in acceptable foreign currency. Magistrate Nicodemus Chivhunga set Kuiper's trial for 10 June. In the assault case, it is alleged that while on a visit to his ex-wife, Julie Ribick Kuiper's house in Borrowdale Brooke, Harare, the maid noticed him changing his baby's clothes and offered to help. Kuiper allegedly assaulted the woman and pushed her out of the house. The woman hurt her shoulder. Advocate Charles Selemani, representing Kuiper, complained to the court that his client's detention was in excess of the 48 hours' limit before a court appearance. "The charge he is facing is not unique or serious in nature," the lawyer said. "The quantities of prejudice amount to $110 000 and with inflation pegged at 110 percent, that figure is but nothing in real terms. It's merely a figure." On 8 April this year, Kuiper was arrested at the Harare International Airport for swearing at President Mugabe and charged with breaching the Miscellaneous Offences Act. He was released after paying a $200 admission of guilt fine.
President assents to land Bill (The Herald, 14/05) - The Land Acquisition Amendment Bill is now law after President Mugabe gave his assent last Friday, the ZBC reported last night. According to the ZBC, the Bill was gazetted into law last week and compels a farmer served with an acquisition order to vacate the property or face eviction. The acquisition orders under subsection (1) of section 8 of the amended, Land Acquisition Act effectively means that the farm owner would with immediate effect be confined to his house. Being the new landowner, the Government could start demarcating, pegging and allocating land to the settlers. Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Ex-Political Prisoners, Detainees and Restrictees Association yesterday added its voice in praising Parliament for passing the Land Acquisition Amendment Bill, saying the move will give the Government "a free role," in implementing the land reform programme. ZEPPDRA secretary-general, Cde Billie Tshuma, said Government should move with speed in addressing the land imbalances in the country. "The Parliament of Zimbabwe should be applauded for passing the Bill, which has now removed all obstacles so that we can complete the land revolution without any hindrance," he said. The Bill gives the State effective use and occupation of land to be acquired for resettlement, including the rights to survey, demarcate and allocate land. Any farmers who refuse to vacate the land would be fined $20 000 or jailed for two years. Cde Tshuma urged Government to start working "without delay," on the gratuities and pensions of the ex-detainees. "The Government should recognise the work we did in the liberation of this country and it should also consider our plight. It should give us small plots with title deeds and pensions," he said. Cde Tshuma did not say how much the ex-detainees were asking for. ZEPPDRA congratulated President Mugabe on his re-election for another six-year term, saying that was a sign of the faith the people of Zimbabwe had in his leadership.-Herald Reporter/Bulawayo Bureau.
US tells Zimbabwe visa ban does not apply to UN (Washington, Sapa-AFP, 13/05) - The United States said Monday that a travel ban on Zimbabwe leaders does not cover UN meetings as the country's foreign minister noted that President Robert Mugabe had attended a special UN children's summit last week. "As host to the United Nations headquarters, the United States permits official travel for participation in UN meetings," said Nancy Beck, a State Department spokeswoman. She noted that Washington had not publicly identified those covered by President George W. Bush's imposition of the sanctions but stressed it did not apply to officials traveling to the United Nations on official business. "The president's February 22 proclamation on travel restrictions does not list specific individuals, it describes categories of people," Beck said. "The proclamation does not extend to travel permitted by US obligations under certain international agreements such as the UN headquarters agreement," she added. Though Mugabe has not been publicly named, US officials have said privately that the president and 25 of his top associates, at least four of whom have children studying in the United States, are covered by the sanctions. The travel bans were imposed just ahead of and just after Zimbabwe's March 8-11 elections that the United States and others decried as fundamentally flawed. Earlier Monday, Zimbabwe's Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge was quoted in the state-run Herald newspaper as saying Mugabe and his entourage had no trouble traveling to the United States for a UN meeting. Mugabe had "25 green lights ahead of him to travel anywhere he wishes in the United States," Mudenge said. "Everything was properly planned. Nobody wanted any incident and things went on smoothly," he said. "The Americans were up to scratch with their commitment to the host country agreement." "We wanted to demonstrate that the sanctions will not stop us from carrying out our diplomatic functions," Mudenge said.
South African man charged for allegedly defrauding hotel (The Herald, 13/05) - A 60-year-old South African has been charged with fraud after he allegedly paid his hotel bills in local currency. Taco Esgo Kupier, the publisher of the Investors Guide, allegedly misrepresented to staff at a Harare hotel that he was a Zimbabwean resident. Zimbabwe has a law demanding that all foreigners visiting the country pay their hotel accommodation bills in acceptable foreign currency. Prosecutor Mr Ndabezinhle Moyo said between April 1999 and May 4 this year Kupier visited the country on 20 different occasions. During those visits he checked in a hotel along Samora Machel Avenue giving his address as Mooy Farm in Karoi. He then paid his bills in local currency prejudicing the State of a total of US$1 960. Kupier faces 20 counts of fraud. He is not new to the courts and was last month fined $200 for shouting abusive language and swearing at President Mugabe. He also faces another charge of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm after he beat up his ex-wife's domestic worker following a misunderstanding over his child's clothes. Kupier, represented by Advocate Charles Selemai, was ordered to pay $500 000 bail by provincial magistrate, Mr Nicodimus Chivhunga. His trial is set for June 10 this year.
Police commissioner in France despite sanctions (Zimbabwe Standard, 13/05) - Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri flew off to Lyon, France, on Friday, casting doubt on the effectiveness of travel restrictions imposed on senior government and Zanu PF officials by the European Union and the United States. Reliable sources within the force confirmed to The Standard on Friday that Chihuri went to Paris, via Johannesburg, on Interpol business. When this paper phoned Chihuri's office, an officer who answered the phone said: "The Compol is out of the country. He left for France this afternoon. As I speak to you he is flying, so you can only reach him after 10 days." Checks with Air Zimbabwe reservations revealed that the only flight of the afternoon was a South African Airways jet bound for Jo'burg. Efforts to get comment from the French embassy were fruitless as a woman who said she was the ambassador's secretary told The Standard she was not at liberty to release such details. "The embassy does not divulge details of people who we have granted visas to travel to France, so I can't help you much on that issue," said the secretary who identified herself as Jean. Chihuri joins the growing list of government and Zanu PF officials who have managed to elude travel bans imposed on them by flying to countries which have blacklisted them. The US and the 14-member EU imposed targeted sanctions against Mugabe, his cabinet ministers, service chiefs, businessmen, church leaders and their immediate family members for their role in facilitating crimes against humanity in Zimbabwe. The sanctions are also supposed to see the freezing of any assets held by the officials in the EU or US. In March, environment and tourism minister, Francis Nhema, was granted a visa to attend a wildlife conference in Las Vegas, USA. Justice, legal and parliamentary affairs minister, Patrick Chinamasa, also visited Switzerland while his foreign affairs counterpart, Stan Mudenge, visited Geneva after the European country, which is not a member of the EU, had slapped travel restrictions on Zimbabwean officials.
Zimbabwe ruling party to sue foreign and local media organisations (Harare, Sapa-AFP, 12/05) - The ruling party in Zimbabwe will sue media organisations, including those outside the country, and the main opposition party for reporting a false story, the state-run Sunday Mail reported. The story concerned a false claim by the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) two weeks ago that a woman was beheaded by supporters of President Robert Mugabe's party. The story was reported by the country's only private daily paper, the Daily News, and received extensive international coverage. Already four journalists - three from the Daily News and the Zimbabwe correspondent for Britain's Guardian newspaper, Andrew Meldrum - have been arrested over the story. The Sunday Mail quoted Professor Jonathan Moyo, the deputy secretary for information in the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), who told the paper his party was "sick and tired" of being demonised. He said the party would also sue the MDC, as the source of the story. Moyo, who is also the country's minister of information, said his party would no longer tolerate "lies" told about ZANU-PF. "We are sick and tired that the MDC, some journalists, The Daily News and certain media houses in the white Commonwealth, South Africa, America, Kenya and Nigeria had made it their daily business to demonise our party and we are not going to take it anymore." Under tough new media laws in Zimbabwe, journalists who report falsehoods can face up to two years in prison.
Government threatens clampdown on NGOs, Oppostion (Harare, Sapa-AFP, 12/05) - The Zimbabwe government has warned it will crack down on non-governmental organisations, churches and opposition officials involved in "subversive" activities, the Sunday News reported. Home Affairs Minister John Nkomo told the state-run newspaper that the government was aware of "churches, NGOs and human rights groups that are actively involved in undermining the nation's internal security." Foreigners "masterminding such acts" will be deported, Nkomo told the paper, which is based in the second city of Bulawayo. Several rights groups in Zimbabwe have angered the government with allegations of abuses in the run-up to bitterly-fought presidential polls in March. Some church leaders have also criticised the government. Also in the Sunday News, Nkomo warned that opposition members "who make statements agitating for war" would be arrested, in an apparent reference to recent statements by Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) officials. MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who has refused to accept President Robert Mugabe's re-election, last weekend told a rally in Masvingo city that his party would organise a national strike if Mugabe did not agree to a re-run.
Government ordered to renew Judith Todd's passport (The Herald, 11/05) - Zimbabwean-born Judith Todd was yesterday granted the right to renew her Zimbabwean passport by the High Court because she never claimed her entitlement to a foreign citizenship. The case is a test case. Justice Adam had ruled earlier this year that Zimbabwean citizens by birth or descent only had to renounce foreign citizenships they actually held to remain Zimbabwean citizens. There had been doubt over whether Zimbabwean citizens had to renounce entitlements to a foreign citizenship. Most citizens with a foreign born father, and sometimes mother, have such an entitlement. Ms Todd's case was the first brought up by an individual. The citizenship office has been advising Zimbabwean citizens that they must renounce entitlements to foreign citizenship, as well as actual citizenships held, should they desire to retain Zimbabwean nationality. The application was brought to court following the refusal by the Registrar General, Mr Tobaiwa Mudede to renew Ms Todd's passport because she had not renounced her entitlement to New Zealand citizenship. Ms Todd has asserted that, although both her parents are New Zealand born, she has never exercised any right that might give her New Zealand citizenship. Ruling on the application, Justice Mungwira said that Ms Todd is a citizen of this country and she cannot be stripped of her citizenship. She ordered the Registrar General to renew her passport. "I order the Registrar General to renew the applicant's passport within 14 days of her asking for a new one," ordered Justice Mungwira. She described Mr Mudede's attitude of granting citizenship under the Citizenship Act as arrogant and unashamed. By doing so, Justice Mungwira said he carried out duties belonging to the police and the Attorney General. Justice Mungwira said the Act, provides that a person born in Zimbabwe becomes a citizen by birth. Mr Nelson Mutsonziwa of the Attorney General's civil-division had submitted that Ms Todd holds dual citizenship and so had lost her Zimbabwean citizenship by her failure to renounce her New Zealand citizenship. He said in terms of the law of the country she was not entitled to a Zimbabwean passport. Todd's lawyer, Mr Bryant Elliot of Gill, Godlonton and Gerrans had submitted that his client was born in Zimbabwe at a time her parents were residents of the country. As a constitutional right, Mr Elliot said Todd was entitled to the right to be issued with a passport so long as she remained a citizen of Zimbabwe. Mr Elliot had submitted that since the Registrar-General's office had failed to provide the necessary proof of his assertion that Todd had lost her citizenship of Zimbabwe by virtue of being a citizen of New Zealand, she was entitled to the relief she sought. The Minister of Home Affairs Cde John Nkomo was cited as the second respondent.
Judge rules people born in Zimbabwe cannot lose citizenship (Harare, Sapa-AFP, 10/05) - A High Court judge ruled Friday that the government cannot strip citizenship from people born in Zimbabwe, and ordered the state to renew the passport of rights activist Judith Todd. "According to the papers before me, I find that Judith Todd is a citizen of Zimbabwe. I order the registrar general to renew the applicant's passport within 14 days" of her asking for a new one, Justice Sandra Mungwira said. The judge castigated registrar general Tobaiwa Mudede as having "arrogantly and unashamedly" carried out duties that belong to the police and attorney general. "The attitude of the registrar general is that he has taken it upon himself to grant citizenship under the Citizenship of Zimbabwe Act, which is the attorney general's and police's job," Mungwira said. Under the citizenship act, a person born in Zimbabwe becomes a citizen by birth and "that right cannot be renounced," Mungwira said. In March 2001, government passed a law that required anyone wishing to retain Zimbabwean citizenship to renounce any right to foreign citizenship - even if they had never held a foreign passport. The law mainly targetted an estimated 30,000 white Zimbabweans who were entitled to a foreign passport, and also tens of thousands of black workers whose parents or grandparents had immigrated from neighboring nations. Government critics had feared the law would bar people with foreign-sounding surnames as well as the small white minority from voting because they had not renounced their entitlement to foreign citizenship. The legislation was viewed as part of a wide-ranging strategy to ensure President Robert Mugabe's re-election in March. Todd is a rights activist who supported Zimbabwe's liberation struggle but who now opposes Mugabe, accusing his government of widespread human rights abuses. Both Todd's parents were born in New Zealand, but she was born in Zimbabwe, when it was the British colony of Rhodesia. Her father, Garfield Todd, is a former prime minister of Rhodesia. She has never sought a New Zealand passport.
Mugabe faces travel curbs in US (Financial Gazette, 09/05) - Mugabe faces travel curbs in US (Financial Gazette, 09/05) - The movement of President Robert Mugabe, who left Harare earlier this week to attend a United Nations (UN) conference in New York, will be restricted in distance to the confines of the UN, American government sources said this week.The restrictions on Mugabes travel in the United States are in line with sanctions slapped on him and members of his inner circle by the US government under the Zimbabwe Democracy Act. US administration sources said the movement of Mugabe, in the US to attend a UN Childrens Conference, would be curtailed to the geographical limitations of the UN headquarters. "His movement is restricted under geographical limitation of the United Nations headquarters and he enjoys freedom within that limitation," an authoritative source said. Another said: "If for example he wants to go to San Francisco, even for shopping or sightseeing, that visa will not allow him that latitude." It could not be ascertained yesterday whether Mugabe intended to meet any US government official while at the UN. Bruce Wharton, the US embassy spokesman in Harare, declined any comment. "I am not at liberty to discuss specific visa cases," he said. The sources said the terms and conditions of Mugabes visit to the UN headquarters were similar to those imposed on Cuban leader Fidel Castro, under US sanctions for decades over his policies on the Caribbean island nation. Mugabes visit to the US is his first one there since January 2000. It is also his first since the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Bill was signed into law by the Bush administration earlier this year. Sources said Mugabe is likely to use the opportunity of the UN conference to brief UN secretary-general Kofi Annan on Zimbabwes political and economic situation in the aftermath of the Presidents disputed re-election in March. The international community, minus a few African states, has refused to recognise Mugabes win, which has been branded by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) as daylight robbery. The MDC is challenging the poll result in court. As a consequence of the disputed ballot, Zimbabwe has been suspended from the 54-nation Commonwealth while the 15-nation European Union, the US, New Zealand and Switzerland have slapped travel sanctions on Mugabe and his inner circle. The blacklist has included top bankers, civil servants and army generals who are accused of benefiting from Mugabes policies. Washington says it is in consultation with western Europe and other countries to impose further measures against the targeted individuals. The EU has also cut contact with the Zimbabwe government at ministerial level, frozen the overseas assets of the targeted officials and, like the US, banned the sale of arms to Harare. The sources said they believed Mugabe would use his trip to lobby individual nations against imposing sanctions on his administration at a time when Zimbabwes economy is reeling from its worst ever crisis, shown out by crippling food and foreign currency shortages, runaway jobless and inflation (stagflation) and mass poverty.
Zimbabwe parliament tightens land seizure law (Financial Gazette, 09/05) - Zimbabwe's parliament passed changes to a controversial land law yesterday giving the state almost immediate control of white-owned farms targeted for seizure. President Robert Mugabe's government, which says it is seeking to correct imbalances in land ownership created by British colonialism, has listed thousands of white-owned farms for seizure. Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party used its comfortable parliamentary majority to suspend procedural rules and approve in a day's sitting changes he had made last November using presidential powers. Parliament was recalled for an emergency session to ratify the amendments which would have become invalid this month without parliamentary approval. Mugabe, who is accused by the opposition and many Western powers of cheating in presidential polls two months ago, says he wants to finish his "fast-track" land redistribution by August. Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said the changes to the law were designed to help advance Zimbabwe's "land revolution". He said objections by the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) were meant to serve a white minority at the expense of the black majority. "There must be no doubt about our commitment to the land redistribution programme, and there must be no doubt at all that the train is moving and those who do not get into the train will be left behind," Chinamasa said. The MDC, which is opposed to the redistribution scheme, slammed the changes. "This a seriously bungled programme," said MDC MP David Coltart. The amendments to the Land Acquisition Act give the state full rights over land designated for seizure. Any farmer or anyone else found guilty of interfering with the resettlement exercise faces a fine or jail for up to two years. Parliament also passed a clause saying new settlers had no automatic right to white farmers' movable equipment, such as tractors and harvesters, but could buy it with the agreement of the owners. Mugabe used his sweeping powers to allow the government to authorise land occupation once the initial "acquisition notice" to farmers had been served. Affected farmers have three months to vacate their farm houses. The Act said those who refused would be evicted by court order. The southern African country has been in crisis since February 2000, when pro-government militants, led by veterans of the 1970s liberation war, began invading white-owned farms. Zimbabwe is facing a food crisis caused by the invasions and drought and its once prosperous economy is in tatters. More than 5 000 farms out of estimated 8 000 properties owned by 4 500 white farmers have been targeted for seizure under the programme. Farmers say they support land redistribution but are opposed to the methods employed by Mugabe, Zimbabwe's ruler since the former Rhodesia gained independence in 1980.
Todd wins citizenship case (Zimbabwe Mirror, 09/05) - Judith Todd, 57, the daughter of former Rhodesian prime minister Sir Garfield Todd, has won a major test case in the High Court, blocking attempts by the Registrar General, Tobaiwa Mudede, to strip her of Zimbabwean nationality. Mudede had argued that his action was due to the fact that Todd had not renounced a possible claim to New Zealand citizenship. Sir Garfield, 92, came to former Southern Rhodesia more than 60 years ago and was recently struck off the voters roll by Mudede because he was born in Invercargill, South Island, in New Zealand. The judgment could have major implications for thousands of other Zimbabweans facing citizenship problems as a result of recent legislation, including many in rural areas, who are of Malawian or Mozambican descent. Parliament last year empowered Home Affairs Minister John Nkomo to revoke the citizenship of any Zimbabwean who had not by January 6, 2002, renounced dual nationality in terms of the laws of the foreign country to whose citizenship they might be entitled. I am delighted not only for myself but for all those hundreds of thousands of farm workers, Todd said. The landmark judgment applies, for the time being, only to Zimbabwean citizens born in the country. Costs of her case were sponsored by the Zimbabwes Legal Resources Foundation and five other human rights groups. Justice Sandra Mungwira said she would sign orders on Wednesday, requiring Mudede to issue Todd with a new Zimbabwean passport within 14 days of making application, and to continue to recognise her in all other respects as a citizen of Zimbabwe. Arguing the case on Tuesday, Todds lawyer, Bryant Elliot, said Mudede had simply made up requirements that attempted to force Zimbabweans who had never claimed a second citizenship to obtain proof from the foreign country involved that they had renounced it. Mudede contested Todds challenge, but as the Home Affairs Minister made no response, the state case collapsed. Todds lawyer argued that last years legislation did not apply to her as she had never attempted to acquire a foreign citizenship. He added that the Registrar General was not entitled to deprive Zimbabwe-born nationals of citizenship because he suspected they might have some claim through their parents to dual nationality - even though they had never asserted the claim. He said the renunciation form that Mudede had printed forced a Zimbabwean suspected of having a claim to a foreign citizenship to assert that he or she did in practice hold the foreign citizenship. Todd had been unable to sign such a declaration renouncing a New Zealand citizenship she had never possessed. Todd did not know whether New Zealand would refuse her citizenship if she applied. However, said legal sources, if she had applied even as a mere exploratory exercise - this would be taken in terms of the Zimbabwe legislation as automatic renunciation of her Zimbabwean citizenship.
Three foreign correspondents challenge new Zimbabwe media law (Harare, Sapa-AFP, 08/05) - Three reporters for the British press in Zimbabwe have made an urgent application to the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of a tough new media law, the state-run Herald said Wednesday. The three correspondents are Jan Raath of the Times of London, Peta Thornycroft of London's Daily Telegraph and Andrew Meldrum of Britain's Guardian newspaper. Each has filed separate papers with the court challenging various sections of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), signed into law in March amid an international outcry. Thornycroft and Meldrum have both been arrested under the strict new law. Thornycroft was released without charge after being detained for five days in March, while Meldrum was remanded out of custody Tuesday following a day in police cells last week. The new law makes it a crime to publish "false information" or to work unlicensed as a reporter.
Zimbabwe court rejects by journalists to drop charges under harsh media laws (Harare, Sapa-AP, 07/05) - A Zimbabwean court denied a request Tuesday by two journalists to drop charges filed against them under harsh new media laws on grounds that the laws violate constitutional rights to free expression. But lawyers said they would take their case to the Supreme Court, the highest court in the country. Rejecting their request, Harare Magistrate Lilian Kudya ordered Andrew Meldrum, 50, a U.S. citizen who is the Zimbabwe correspondent of the British newspaper The Guardian, and Lloyd Mudiwa, a reporter with Zimbabwe's only independent daily newspaper, to reappear for the beginning of their trial May 22. Kudya ruled there was a case to be pursued under the new media laws. Kudya, however, dropped charges against Collin Chiwanza, another reporter from The Daily News, who had also been charged with "abuse of journalistic privilege by publishing falsehoods," a crime punishable by up to two years in jail under media laws in effect since March. Critics ay the media laws are aimed at stifling free speech and dissent against the government. Chiwanza testified Tuesday he was assigned to assist Mudiwa but had not written any part of a report in the Daily News about the killing last month - allegedly by ruling party supporters - of a woman near the town of Karoi, 200 kilometers (120 miles) northwest of Harare. Police said the killing never happened, and the Daily News retracted the story. The Guardian was among international media organizations which referred to the report. The Daily News later said it may have been deliberately misled in a "sting" to discredit it. Though its reporters and Meldrum were arrested and detained, the original informant had not been questioned by police. On Monday, police arrested and charged a Daily News columnist, bringing to eight the number of journalists arrested under the new laws. Pius Wakatama, 62, who writes a weekly political column, was also accused of publishing false information in two of his Saturday columns. In one he referred to the alleged Karoi killing and in another he was critical of the tacit government support of land seizures by ruling party militants that had displaced black farm workers and forced white land owners to flee, including the family of a veteran white supporter of the country's liberation movement from white minority rule. Wakatama is expected to be summoned to court soon. The media laws were passed shortly before the re-election of longtime President Robert Mugabe. Human rights groups and opposition activists said the laws are intended to muzzle the media as part of wider effort to suppress dissent in Zimbabwe. Four other journalists, including a correspondent of the British Daily Telegraph, have been arrested since the media laws went into effect. They have been released but may be summoned to court in the future. The judiciary has been under growing pressure by the government to issue rulings in its favor and government officials and since political unrest began in Zimbabwe two years ago, there have been several resignations by independent-minded members of the judiciary.
Government concedes in test case on citizenship (Harare, Sapa-AP, 07/05) - Zimbabwe's government conceded Tuesday in a High Court that it cannot strip rights activist Judith Todd of her Zimbabwean citizenship, even if she could qualify for a passport from another country. "I concede the heads of argument presented by the applicant, so I have no further submissions to make," Nelson Mutsonziwa from the attorney general's office told the court. Zimbabwe's government had refused to renew Todd's passport, saying that she was a citizen of New Zealand because her parents were born there. Government argued that a 1943 New Zealand law gave citizenship to anyone whose parents were born in that country. Todd's lawyer, Bryant Elliot, said Zimbabwean law required an expert from New Zealand be present in court, if that nation's laws were to be considered. He also argued that Zimbabwean law automatically gives citizenship to anyone born here. Judge Sandra Mungwira is expected to hand down her judgment Wednesday. Both Todd's parents were born in New Zealand, but she was born in Zimbabwe, when it was the British colony of Rhodesia. Her father, Garfield Todd, is a former prime minister of Rhodesia. She has never sought a New Zealand passport. Judith Todd is a rights activist, who supported Zimbabwe's liberation struggle but who now opposes President Robert Mugabe, accusing his government of widespread human rights abuses. Todd's case could have wide-ranging implications for all Zimbabweans of foreign descent. In March 2001, government passed a law that required anyone wishing to retain Zimbabwean citizenship to renounce any right to foreign citizenship - even if they had never held a foreign passport. A High Court judge had ruled in February that people cannot give up a right, but only a citizenship they actually hold. The law mainly targetted an estimated 30,000 white Zimbabweans who were entitled to a foreign passport, and also tens of thousands of black workers whose parents or grandparents had immigrated from neighboring nations. Government critics had feared the law would bar people with foreign-sounding surnames as well as the small white minority from voting because they had not renounced their entitlement to foreign citizenship. The legislation was viewed as part of a wide-ranging strategy to ensure Mugabe's re-election in the March 9-10 poll.
Foriegn media attacked on World Press Freedom Day (Harare, Sapa-AP, 03/05) - A top Zimbabwean official slammed the international media as imperialist Friday as Zimbabwe was named one of the worst places to be a journalist on World Press Freedom Day. Also Friday, a Zimbabwe court postponed a case against three reporters accused of breaching harsh new media laws after defense lawyers asked that the charges be dropped. Since the media laws took effect March 22, seven journalists have been arrested. Dozens of other independent journalists have been arrested by police or assaulted by ruling party militants over the past two years. The U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists on Friday named Zimbabwe one of the 10 worst places to be a journalist, alongside Afghanistan, Colombia and Iran. In a statement marking World Press Freedom Day, Information Minister Jonathan Moyo said the nation had in recent months come under an "unprecedented media-led assault" at a time when the press should be "deployed in the service and defense of the national agenda." "Our experience ... has clearly shown the so-called borderless global media, in fact, carries an imperial flag and is an integral part of Western imperial expansionism and assault on Third World sovereignties," he said. However, the government was committed to "constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression, of which press freedom was only a small and subsidiary part," he said. Meanwhile, Harare Magistrate Lilian Kudya adjourned the case against Andrew Meldrum, 50, a U.S. citizen who is the Harare correspondent of the British newspaper The Guardian, and Lloyd Mudiwa and Collin Chiwanza, two Zimbabwean reporters with the independent Daily News. The three face charges of "abuse of journalistic privilege by publishing falsehoods," a crime punishable by up to two years in jail. They charges stem from a story in the Daily News last week about the killing - allegedly by ruling party supporters - of a woman near the town of Karoi, 200 kilometers (120 miles) northwest of Harare. Several international media outlets, including The Guardian, also reported on the story. Police said the killing never happened, and the Daily News retracted the story. Chiwanza said he did not even write "a single word" of the report, though he did travel to Karoi to try to help verify it, his lawyer Lawrence Chibwe said. The case represents the first legal challenge to Zimbabwe's new media laws that critics say are aimed at stifling criticism of President Robert Mugabe's government. Four other journalists, including a correspondent of the British Daily Telegraph, have been arrested since the laws went into effect March 22. They have been released but may be summoned to court later. On Thursday, Beatrice Mtetwa, Meldrum's lawyer, said the laws breached constitutional free speech rights and were being enforced selectively, with the state media freely allowed to publish false information. Meldrum has been repeatedly named by the government in its attacks on British media coverage of the nation's two-year political and economic crisis. Mugabe was declared the winner in disputed presidential elections March 9-11 that the opposition has refused to recognize. Several independent observer groups have said the elections were deeply flawed. Independent human rights groups say at least 56 people, most of them opposition supporters, have died in political violence this year.
Asian kombi owners flee Zimbabwe (Financial Gazette, 03/05) - Commuter transport problems in Harare could worsen after reports yesterday suggested that the Asian community, key players in the capital city's commuter business, is moving its businesses to neighbouring countries. Sources in the industry this week said the Asians, some of whom operate fleets of more than 200 minibuses, were feeling increasingly insecure amid threats from the government and rogue elements of war veterans and were therefore moving their businesses to Zimbabwe's neigh-bours, mainly to Mozambique. "Some of them have already started doing so quietly and many more might start doing so soon especially if the government insists that they should charge fares they feel are not viable," one of the operators said this week. Several commuter transport operators withdrew their buses from Harare's roads this week in protest against the government's directive declaring illegal a 30 percent fare hike the operators introduced on Monday. The operators cited rising spare parts costs and those of labour as the reason for the fare increase. Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo, whose ministry controls urban commuter transport operations, has accused the operators of profiteering and threatened to fine and de-register those defying his directive. In a move analysts described as populist, the government last October imposed blanket price controls on most consumer products and services, triggering crippling shortages. Last year it also introduced uneconomic "Freedom Trains" in Harare and Bulawayo to ferry workers to work ahead of a crucial presidential election controversially won by President Robert Mugabe. "These Asian transport operators are increasingly feeling that their businesses are no longer safe here, especially because the war veterans are regularly intervening in their labour disputes," another operator said. "They are moving to other markets where they can do business freely compared to the environment here." In the part few months, commuters in Harare have had to queue for long hours due to increasing shortage of mini-buses in the city. Since last year, the veterans have been dragging the Asian transport operators before kangaroo labour courts to try to resolve industrial problems between them and their workers. Two weeks ago war veterans' leader Andrew Ndlovu threatened the Asian community with tough action after he accused it of underpaying workers, charging exorbitant rentals and owning what he said was too much land. By yesterday evening-the third day in a row - most of mini-buses belonging to the Asian community had not resumed operations in Harare.
Journalists formally charged, released (Financial Gazette, 03/05) - A Harare magistrate yesterday released from police custody two reporters from the Daily News and a correspondent for the British Guardian newspaper after they were formally charged under a section of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Daily News reporters Collin Chiwanza and Lloyd Mudiwa and the Guardian's Harare correspondent Andrew Meldrum will appear in court again today. The magistrate, Lilian Kudya, only heard an application from Meldrum's attorney, Beatrice Mtetwa of Kantor and Immerman, who appealed for the Guardian correspondent's release. Lawrence Chibwe of Stumbles and Rowe, who is representing the Daily News journalists, said his application was not heard yesterday because the magistrate had arrived at the court late. He however said the Daily News reporters had been released because he had made an application similar to Mtetwa's. His submission will now be heard this morning, when the magistrate will make a ruling on whether to the three journalists should pay bail. "We have argued that they are remanded out of custody and the state is not opposed to that," Chibwe told the Financial Gazette. "The magistrate came late and there was no time to hear our application which is the same as that of my colleague. "Our submissions will now be heard tomorrow (today) where she (magistrate) will make a ruling whether they will be put on bail." Mudiwa, Chiwanza and Meldrum were arrested earlier this week over a story, which has since turned out to be false, alleging that ruling ZANU PF members had beheaded a woman supporter of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change in front of her daughters. The Zimbabwe chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) yesterday condemned the detention of the three journalists, saying the suffering, humiliation and intimidation they had experienced far outweighed the offence they were alleged to have committed. "MISA Zimbabwe equally condemns the utterances by Jonathan Moyo that the arrested journalists are criminals and that his department has got nothing to do with the arrests," the organisation said.
Construction sector loses 140,000 jobs in decade (Zimbabwe Independent, 03/05) - The construction industry has become the biggest victim of President Robert Mugabe's skewed macro-economic policies, losing more than 136 000 jobs over the past 10 years as Zimbabwe plunges into its worst economic crisis, it has emerged. Construction Industry Federation of Zimbabwe (Cifoz) chief executive Joseph Mafanuke said that the paucity of projects had made it difficult for the industry to expand. "The construction industry employed 150 000 workers in the mid-80's but now employs a figure that flactuates between 10 000 and 14 000," Mafanuke said in written responses to the Zimbabwe Independent. "Simple arithmetic shows that the industry has been in a serious decline and will unfortunately remain in this state unless the economy improves." The downsizing of jobs in the industry has resulted in serious difficulties for the sector, which is set to drop by minus 2% in the event that there are no new projects by the end of the year. Problems besetting the sector range from shortage of foreign currency to purchase inputs as well as the high costs of cement and other capital inputs to sustain production. The problems are likely to result in the country's unemployment rate - which currently stands at 60% - continuing to increase as firms in the industry downsize operations to stay afloat. Mafanuke said the drop in new projects had resulted in the sector suffering a 93% decline. "The construction industry in Zimbabwe is currently operating at about 7% of its full potential," he said. Economic consultant John Robertson said various companies in the industry had relocated to neighbouring countries, mainly Mozambique, in search of viable new projects. "The drop in production levels for the industry has forced some companies to shift their focus to regional countries, mainly Mozambique, to tap into the wide range of projects available," he said. Robertson said it was evident that most of construction projects in the country had not been completed as a result of foreign currency shortages. He said the future of the industry was uncertain owing to the further worsening of the economic climate. Construction projects under way in the capital are the Joina Centre, which has been lying idle for the past three years owing to shortages of foreign currency for finishes, the Trust Towers along Samora Machel Avenue, and an office park in Eastlea being developed by Old Mutual. A lot of the building work is under way in the residential housing sector, which is experiencing a boom as investors channel funds from low performing sub-sectors like the money market and the stock exchange. The housing sector has benefited from the low interest rate regime introduced by government last year which has seen interest rates coming down from highs of 70% to 15%.
Downturn in domestic tourism figures (Zimbabwe Independent, 03/05) - The emergence of the domestic tourism market that had given a temporary reprieve to the troubled hotel sector has begun to show signs of waning. The local market had temporarily filled the slot left vacant by the decline in foreign tourist arrivals over the past year but this has now been affected by the increases in the prices of basic commodities and escalating transport costs. The Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) is not anticipating any upsurge in business from the domestic market due to the economic decline. HAZ vice-president Shingi Munyeza, this week said that the coming months will not bring any hope to the hotel sector. "The next six months do not seem to be bright and the biggest casualty is the employee, most of whom now work on contract basis," said Munyeza. "We cannot retrench further. The cost of commodities has gone up by 60% and we are faced with a shrinking business and the casualties are both the employer and the employee." Munyeza said while they were hoping to see an upturn in business, the opposite has happened. "The local market has begun to show signs of shrinking. Some of us have been depending on business from the non-governmental organisa tions (NGOs), but due to the problems some of the NGO's are facing, the opposite has happened," Munyeza said. This month, HAZ would be holding its annual general meeting where the minister of Environment and Tourism, Francis Nhema would be the guest speaker. Although there have been serious concerns within the industry that the government has given concessionary status to other sectors at the expense of tourism, Mu nyeza said they would also present their concerns to government. "We are working on a paper to present to government, to our minister as well as the President. By the end of May we expect to have presented the document on tourism recovery," he said. Due to the country's risk and warnings by several European Union countries against coming to the southern African country, other countries in the region including South Africa and Botswana have started marketing some of Zimbabwe's tourist destinations as part of their packages. "Due to the travel warnings against travelling to Zimbabwe, we intend to market our products in the southern region without specifying the name of the country the product is located in because whenever Zimbabwe's name is mentioned, we lose," he said. Of major concern to players in the industry has been the "hijacking" of hotel land in the fast-track land reform programme which has since impacted negatively on the sector. This has again been exacerbated by lack of government commitment to try and resuscitate the sector, while in countries like Botswana 60% of revenue generated in the tourism sector is driven by the government. The country's premiere marketer, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, has said it expects the once-vibrant industry to be fully resuscitated next year.
Hundreds of white farmers forced to quit (Johannesburg, Business Day, 03/05) - About 250 white Zimbabwean farmers have been forced off their properties by selfproclaimed war veterans since the disputed presidential election last month, the Commercial Farmers' Union said yesterday. Union president Colin Cloete reportedly said his group, which represented about 4500 mainly white commercial farmers, "noted with alarm that the evictions were continuing unabated". "The current spate of evictions of farmers from their homesteads and farms by war veterans and settlers, many leaving with little more than the clothes they were wearing, is clearly unlawful, and is destabilising the entire industry." Cloete appealed to the authorities to stop evictions. The veterans' official Andrew Ndlovu said last month he had issued more than 800 ultimatums to white farmers to quit their properties. He said the veterans wanted white farmers to leave the country as they advocated sanctions, a reference to a UK drive for global action against Harare for poll violence and intimidation.
But Patrick Nyaruwata, acting chairman of the veterans of Zimbabwe's 1970s liberation war who in early 2000 spearheaded often violent invasions of whiteowned farms told commercial farmers last week to ignore Ndlovu's ultimatums. The United Nations food body warned yesterday that the looming food crisis may affect more than 1-million people. "The situation is precarious and continues to deteriorate," said Judith Lewis, head of southern and east African operations of the World Food Programme. This week President Robert Mugabe declared a disaster over the food shortages, blaming drought. Meanwhile, a Zimbabwean judge released yesterday three journalists charged with violating the country's Draconian new media laws by reporting false information. Harare Magistrate Lilian Kudya ordered police to release Andrew Meldrum, a US citizen who is the Harare correspondent of the British newspaper The Guardian. Kudya also freed Lloyd Mudiwa and Collin Chiwanza, two reporters with the independent Daily News. The three were accused of breaching the laws by reporting last week on the killing allegedly by ruling party supporters of a woman near the town of Karoi, 200km northwest of Harare. The woman's husband said she had been hacked to death and decapitated in front of her two children. The Daily News later retracted the story, saying it may have been misled in a politically motivated "sting" to discredit it. Police said the killing never happened. The state media accused the Daily News and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change of "cooking up" the murder report to smear the ruling party at home and internationally through foreign reporters based in Harare. The reporters were the latest of seven journalists arrested since new media laws came into effect on March 22. Sapa-AFP, Reutersto cover the food deficit. Maize rationing has been instituted in communal areas, with some households being limited to sharing a monthly 50 kg (110,2 lb) bag of maize meal enough to feed a family of five for one month, according to the WFP.
Journalists' arrest condemned (Zimbabwe Independent, 03/05) - The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and the Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) have condemned the arrest and detention of three journalists this week. The three, Lloyd Mudiwa and Collin Chiwanza of the Daily News, and Andrew Meldrum of the UK Guardian, were yesterday released on bail after being held for two days. CPJ executive director Ann Cooper yesterday wrote to President Robert Mugabe expressing outrage at the systematic harassment of journalists by the government. "The Committee to Protect Journalists is writing to condemn the arrests this week of three Harare-based independent journalists, Lloyd Mudiwa, Collin Chiwanza, and Andrew Meldrum," Cooper said. "CPJ respectfully requests their immediate release and urges government to refrain from its frequent use of criminal charges to detain journalists." Mudiwa and Chiwanza were arrested on Tuesday and detained for two days. They were charged with "abusing journalistic privilege" and "publishing false information" under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act in connection with an April 23 story - later found to be inaccurate - stating Zanu PF youths had beheaded an opposition MDC party supporter. Meldrum, an American citizen, was picked up on Wednesday after filing the same story and held until his court appearance yesterday. He was charged with the same offence which carries a maximum sentence of two years imprisonment or a fine of $100 000. The Daily News has carried a retraction of the story, which it said appeared to be a plant. The three journalists appeared in court yesterday after High Court judges Yunis Omerjee and Sandra Mungwira on Wednesday refused to hear an urgent application for their release without a notice served on state legal advisers. Daily News lawyer Lawrence Chibwe, who together with Meldrum's lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, spent about five hours on Wednesday trying to ensure the application was heard, said it could not be dealt with after he failed to find deputy Attorney-General, Bharat Patel. However, the journalists were finally released yesterday on free bail. Their lawyers said the case would continue today when they will formally oppose the placing of the pressmen on remand. Misa said it was dismayed by the persistent harassment of journalists by government on the basis of flimsy accusations. "Misa-Zimbabwe condemns in the strongest words the detention of journalists on allegations of having written falsehoods," it said, describing the arrests as "reminiscent of the Rhodesian era".
This page last updated 11 June 2002.