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Zimbabwe's Marange diamond fields 'plundered'
13 November 2012
At least $2bn (£1.25bn) worth of diamonds has been stolen from Zimbabwe, campaign group Partnership Africa Canada (PAC) has alleged.
It was "the biggest plunder of diamonds since Cecil Rhodes", it said, referring to a British colonial mining magnate.
Groups of miners in the diamond fields in Marange (Archive photo)

The Marange diamond fields are among the most lucrative in the world
Groups of miners in the diamond fields in Marange (Archive photo)
The Marange diamond fields are among the most lucrative in the world
The 'theft; at the Marange fields had enriched Zimbabwean officials, international gem dealers and criminals, the PAC report said.
A Zimbabwean mining official dismissed the allegation as "totally false".
The report,
Reap What You Sow: Greed and Corruption in Zimbabwe's Marange Diamond Fields, was released by the Ottawa-based group to coincide with the Zimbabwean government's conference on diamond trade at the resort town of Victoria Falls.
'Mind-blowing illegality'
President Robert Mugabe, in his address to delegates, said the government was committed to observing "international laws on diamond mining, storage and trading", AP news agency reports.
The industry's global watchdog body, the Kimberley Process, lifted a ban on Zimbabwean diamond sales in 2011, with the backing of the US and European Union.
The ban was imposed in 2009 following reports that Zimbabwean military officials were benefiting from the diamond trade and there had been killings and human rights abuses at the Marange fields.
The PAC said the scale of "illegality" at the fields was "mind-blowing".
It added:
"Conservative estimates place the theft of Marange goods at almost $2bn since 2008."
In July, Zimbabwean Finance Minister Tendai Biti said that $600m in diamond revenues was expected this year, but only $46m had materialised.
No diamonds have ever gone missing”
Goodwills Masimirembwa
Zimbabwean mining official
Mr Biti is a member of the Movement of Democratic Change (MDC), which is in a fractious coalition with Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.
The two parties formed a power-sharing government in 2009, following elections marred by violence.
The mining industry and security portfolios are controlled by Zanu-PF.
The head of of the state-run Zimbabwe Mining Development Company, Goodwills Masimirembwa, told AP that the PAC's allegations were "totally false".
Mr Masimirembwa is quoted as saying.
"No diamonds have ever gone missing,"
"When we are selling our diamonds, all stakeholders — the police, revenue board and the country's mineral marketing body — come together.
BBC © 2013
Zimbabwe regime accused of stealing $2bn in diamonds
Report claims that revenue from Marange fields has been channelled into 'parallel government' loyal to Robert Mugabe.
David Smith, Africa correspondent
Monday 12 November 2012
Diamonds worth at least $2bn (£1.26bn) have been stolen by the Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe's ruling elite, international dealers and criminals, in "perhaps the biggest single plunder of diamonds the world has seen since Cecil Rhodes", a watchdog has claimed.
Revenue that could have revived the country's ailing economy has been channelled into a "parallel government" of police and military officers and government officials loyal to Mugabe, according to
Partnership Africa Canada (PAC) , a group campaigning against "blood diamonds".
The Marange fields in eastern Zimbabwe were discovered in 2006 and are one of the world's biggest diamond deposits.
But funds from diamond sales have not reached the state treasury, says a PAC report, published on Monday to coincide with a Zimbabwe government conference on the diamond trade in Victoria Falls.
Instead there is evidence that millions have gone to Mugabe's inner circle.
Says PAC:
"Marange's potential has been overshadowed by violence, smuggling, corruption and most of all, lost opportunity.
The scale of illegality is mind-blowing" and has spread to "compromise most of the diamond markets of the world."
The report,
Reap What You Sow: Greed and Corruption in Zimbabwe's Marange Diamond Fields, describes the $2bn lost to the Zimbabwean treasury since 2008 as a "conservative estimate".
Tendai Biti, the finance minister, said in his latest budget he had been promised $600m in diamond revenue for the national treasury to help rebuild neglected hospitals, schools and other public services. Only a quarter of that pledge has been received, he claims.
The PAC names Obert Mpofu, mines minister since 2009 and a key Mugabe ally, as perhaps the biggest winner.
He has amassed an unexplained personal fortune and is linked to a "small and tight group of political and military elites who have been in charge of Marange from the very beginning" and who are personally benefiting from the diamond sales, the report alleges.
Mpofu spent more than $20m‚ "mostly in cash"‚ over the past three years, the report says, and owns vast swaths of land.
"While Mpofu is not the only Zanu official benefiting from Marange's riches, his role as the chief guardian of Marange raises the most concern."
Mpofu insists that western economic sanctions have prevented the government from getting fair prices for the diamonds on the international market.
He has repeatedly refused to give exact figures on diamond revenues, the PAC claims.
In 2010 leading industry insiders, including Filip van Laere, a Belgian diamond expert working for the Mugabe government, forecast the country could produce as much as 30m to 40m carats a year, worth about $2bn annually, the PAC report says.
The diamonds are being mined and sold but the funds are not reaching the Zimbabwean treasury, according to the report.
Instead they are going to Mugabe's allies, a group of Zimbabwean military generals and foreigners in South
Africa, China, Dubai, India and Israel.
Most of the revenue is lost through a lack of
transparency in accounting for how many diamonds are mined, how much is earned from their sales, the underpricing of gems on world markets, smuggling and a "high level of collusion" by government officials.
Records show that 10m carats of Marange diamonds were exported to Dubai in late 2012 for $600m, which the report says is half the value it should have been.
The report says this:
"Underscores a price manipulation scheme perpetrated by Indian buyers and their Zimbabwe allies, with whom they are believed to share the spoils."
PAC's researchers were also unable to trace a 2.5m carat stockpile, valued at around $200m, which mysteriously disappeared in November 2011.
It charges that $300m in diamond sales never made it to the Zimbabwe treasury in 2011.
The report also criticises the Kimberley Process for allowing the misuse of funds to happen.   It says:
"Calls for greater transparency have been dismissed within the Kimberley Process,"
"The lack of transparency surrounding Zimbabwe's diamond revenue is a matter of critical public interest and amplifies concerns for some time that these revenues are funding a parallel government."
Mugabe loyalists, many known to be building private mansions and buying luxury cars costing far in excess of their income from tax-funded salaries, the report adds.
Analysts have warned that the diamond wealth could boost Mugabe's war chest for elections expected next year, giving it a huge advantage over prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change.
Mugabe's Zanu-PF dismissed the report as politically motivated.
Rugare Gumbo, a party spokesman, said:
"Our view is that PAC is just there to destabilise the situation in southern Africa.
The Kimberley Process monitor and other monitors have been here and say it's being done properly.
What people don't understand is that we had to bring order to a process that was chaotic."
He added:
"PAC don't believe we should benefit from the resources of our country.
The scapegoat always is President Mugabe because of the regime change agenda."
Mpofu told
Voice of America:
"I will not dignify those baseless accusations with a response.
This is pure madness, rank madness really from a group that is sponsored by countries that do not want to see us benefiting from our diamonds.
They can continue to talk but we will not look back.
Zimbabwe's diamonds are the best and they are hurting that they are not mining in Marange, that's all.
We are used to this.
They release reports ahead of major conferences and Kimberley plenary sessions but we are not fazed at all."
© 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies.   All rights reserved.
Marange — Zimbabwe
Digging for diamonds in Marange, Zimbabwe.

A report by Partnership Africa Canada (PAC) alleges that at least $2bn has gone to a 'parallel government' in Zimbabwe.

Report claims that revenue from Marange fields has been channelled into 'parallel government' loyal to Robert Mugabe.

Photo: Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP
Digging for diamonds in Marange, Zimbabwe.
The report,
Reap What You Sow: Greed and Corruption in Zimbabwe's Marange Diamond Fields
can be downloaded right click here
Illuminati jokes
Diamonds pay for torture
Diamonds pay for torture.

Diamond rings pay for torture.

Photo: internet
Diamond torture camp discovered
"It is the place of torture where sometimes miners are unable to walk on account of the beatings."
He said that dogs were ordered by a handler to maul prisoners
— click here
Note:   Below deals with the situation in Zimbabwe as of 2008 and prior.
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"The situation is very serious in Zimbabwe when life expectancy goes from more than 60 years to just over 30 years in a 15-year span — it's a meltdown, it's not just a crisis, it's a meltdown."

Wednesday, 10 December 2008
Failing Zimbabwe
A cholera epidemic is sweeping across Zimbabwe, causing further suffering to millions of people already struggling to survive in a country close to systemic collapse as food shortages and hyperinflation continue to take their toll.
Spread of cholera in Zimbabwe - August to November 2008.

A cholera epidemic is sweeping across Zimbabwe, causing further suffering to millions of people already struggling to survive in a country close to systemic collapse as food shortages and hyperinflation continue to take their toll.
The BBC does not have permission to report from Zimbabwe, so the names of some contributors have been changed to protect identities.
A strong odour pounces up your nose, choking it stone dry, as you drive into Harare's Mbare township past hostels and its popular market, Mbare Musika.
The stomach-churning stench is enough to kill your appetite for a week.
Raw sewage flows through Mbare Musika — Harare's rendezvous for farmers selling their produce.
A burst sewage pipe in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Apostolic worshippers walk near a burst sewage pipe in a suburb of Harare.

A cholera epidemic is sweeping across Zimbabwe, causing further suffering to millions of people already struggling to survive in a country close to systemic collapse as food shortages and hyperinflation continue to take their toll.
Apostolic worshippers walk near a burst sewage pipe in a suburb of Harare
East of the township, more sewage flows effortlessly into the Mukuvisi River, one of the city's main suppliers of water.
Communal toilets in the surrounding hostels hosting hundreds of families have broken down.
As pumps are not working, sewage waste from burst pipes flows from the hostels' third floor down, leaving waste traces on the windows.
There are many sick
people inside, they can't
walk and relatives don't
have money to send them
to hospital
Mbare resident Majorie
And on the walls below, a thick dark layer of waste, hanging loose on windows has been accumulating over the past months.
It is a recipe for disaster, and a health scandal, according to a local priest.
"Even now, there are many sick people inside, they are frail, they can't walk and relatives don't have money to send them to hospital, so they are left to suffer," said Majorie, a middle-aged woman carrying a child on her back.
In the streets, piles of uncollected refuse are commonplace with flies feasting on the rubbish.
In this chaos, vendors selling tomatoes, mangoes and vegetables rove around.
Customers are still available. Some buy the produce and walk leisurely, eating mangoes, alongside streams of raw sewage to their hostels.
There is nothing they can do about it.
Goods in a Zimbabwean supermarket are priced in foreign currency.

Most imported goods have to be bought with foreign currency.
Most imported goods have to be bought with foreign currency
In this crisis, statistics of people dying of cholera rise each day.
But it is not just killing people, it is devouring Africa's traditional norms and values.
When Ruth Huni, a woman living in Glen Norah township died last week there were just six relatives seated outside when I visited her home.
Zimbabwean funerals used to be huge affairs with hundreds of friends, family and well-wishers.   But no more.
It was common knowledge she had died of cholera.
"Where are our values as Africans?" asked John Mkwananzi, her brother and a famous musician with the popular Runn Family group.
"They know she died of cholera.
"There are many friends, even relatives, around yet they are not visiting.
"Out of fear.   I suppose," he said.
"What are we doing to our culture, if we can't pay condolences?   Cholera is there, but we should rise above the problem and respect our cultural values that bind us together," he said.
There is a feeling here
that people are being
punished for supporting
the opposition
Budiriro resident Claudios Mkwati
Christians are not taking chances either.
At St Peter's Catholic Church in Mbare, there is something special missing during and after fellowship.
"Our usual shaking of hands which is a sign of peace and reconciliation — our custom to do during mass, during the holy service — we had to abandon it because people are afraid it might lead to more transmission of the virus," says Father Oskar Wermter, of the Catholic Church.
"People refrain from it so we just nod at each other in a friendly manner or just clap our hands to ourselves [the] traditional [way]," he says.
After the Sunday service this week, there were hardly any hugs, handshakes, or kisses.
Raw sewage running behind the church, a few yards away, left an unsettling odour.
A woman and her children walk past a heap of uncollected refuse in Harare.

Rubbish has not been collected from the streets of Harare.
Rubbish has not been collected from the streets of Harare
Budiriro is Harare's worst hit township, recording close to 200 cholera-related deaths.
It is an opposition MDC stronghold.
"There is a feeling here that people are being punished for supporting the opposition," says resident Claudios Mkwati.
"Our local councillors and legislators can't do much, because the buck stops at the ministry of local government which provides the money," he explained.
The township has over 300,000 families.
Schools here in Harare are now officially closed for the Christmas holidays but most have been closed for months now.
The past schooling year has basically been one long break for the majority of pupils who have not attended a class in months because of the lack of teachers and unaffordable fees.
Most shop shelves remain empty of foodstuffs except for the few supermarkets in a position to sell imported goods, mostly available to those with foreign currency.
Their shelves are full but the items are so expensive that they are beyond the reach of most city dwellers.
Over 20 people starved to
death in my constituency
alone last month
MP Tachiona Mharadze
Health officials have said that at least 51 people here in Masvingo have died from cholera over the past two weeks and more than 1,500 cases have been reported.
There are strong fears that even more lives could be lost as the government has run out of the required medication to treat the affected.
Provincial medical director Julius Chirengwa said: "Although the situation appears to be under control the shortage of drugs and experienced staff still remain a challenge."
The critical food shortages which are forcing thousands of starving people to rely on wild fruits for survival is also worsening the situation because the fruits are not cleaned according to proper hygienic standards.
Children collecting wild fruits in Zimbabwe.

Many people are relying on wild fruits because of food shortages.
Many people are relying on wild fruits because of food shortages
Thousands of patients have been left stranded because almost all the government-run health institutions here have been closed indefinitely, owing to a lack of finance.
Masvingo general hospital — the province's sole referral centre — has also been closed.
Hospital superintendant Amadiof Shamu said:  "We have closed all the wards and we are urging people with relatives at the institutions to come and collect them."
"I do not know where to go and what to do," said David Muyaka, a seriously ill patient who was ordered to leave hospital.
Striking doctors and nurses have refused to return to work until they are paid $2,500 (£1,690) per month.
Schools closed before the term had ended because teachers refused to work without being paid.
Policemen and soldiers were bankrolled by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to oversee the end-of-year examinations.
However examination papers arrived late in the day at some centres, forcing students to write by candlelight.
A student in Zimbabwe studying by candlelight.

Students wrote some exams in Masvingo by candlelight.
Students wrote some exams in Masvingo by candlelight
Government officials are denying claims that at least 20 people in the past fortnight have died from starvation in Masvingo province, saying the figures are exaggerated.
Yet a legislator in Masvingo West constituency, Tachiona Mharadze, said:  "People are dying every day because of hunger.   Over 20 people starved to death in my constituency alone last month."
A villager from neighbouring Gutu, Edson Marima explained:  "We are now living like wild animals because we search for food every day.
"We rely on edible wild fruits and sometimes eat vegetables only because we have nothing else.
"Some people are starving to death due to these food shortages."
Spread of hunger in Zimbabwe - Food insecurity June 2008.

A cholera epidemic is sweeping across Zimbabwe, causing further suffering to millions of people already struggling to survive in a country close to systemic collapse as food shortages and hyperinflation continue to take their toll.
Thirty people have died here in Manicaland province from the cholera epidemic sweeping across Zimbabwe.
About 450 cases have been reported.
Government officials conceded they were losing the battle.
While people are battling with the cholera threat, members of the Zimbabwe National Army are going from door-to-door in poor townships arresting residents found possessing foreign currency.
It's a serious
violation of rights
Trust Manda
Zimbabwe Lawyers
for Human Rights
Those suspected to have given accommodation to foreigners who flocked to the eastern border city to buy diamonds also fell prey to the marauding soldiers.
Those found with hard currency are taken to the police station and then driven to the Chiadzwa diamond fields to fill up the illegal mine gullies.
Once there, they are beaten up and ordered to sing songs in praise of the ruling Zanu-PF party and its leader President Robert Mugabe.
"It's a serious violation of rights," said Trust Manda, the regional co-ordinator of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.
Children eating maize meal in Zimbabwe.

NGOs are distributing food to some rural areas.
Children eating maize meal in Zimbabwe
NGOs are distributing food to some rural areas
Teachers are still on strike, demanding decent salaries and better working conditions.
Non-governmental organisations are distributing food aid in rural areas after a failed agricultural season.
But the food aid is finding its way into the poor townships where it is being sold at hugely inhibitive prices.
Children are dropping out of school mainly because of hunger; and those that were at boarding schools are now at home because the fees are too high and there is no food any more.
Bulawayo's city health department says only eight deaths have been recorded in the city and those, they say, came from elsewhere.
But this figure is disputed by doctors and residents.
A Zimbabwean family bury a relative who died of cholera.

There are disputes about the number of people dying of cholera.
Zimbabwean family bury a relative who died of cholera
There are disputes about the number of people dying of cholera
Bulawayo's ceremonial Mayor Thaba Moyo has said those who died of cholera came from Beitbridge, the town on the border with South Africa, 380km (236 miles) south.
Health officials in Beitbridge put the latest death toll at 56 but nurses have apparently told friends that as many as 80 people have died of the disease and the small mortuary is congested with decomposed bodies.
Villagers who live on the border with prosperous South Africa are crossing every day to seek medical attention at the hospitals in Musina town, about 10km (six miles) from the border.
The scale of the disease in Matabeleland is less serious than in Harare.
The cholera epidemic is one of the symptoms of a collapsed economy and health sector.
The crisis has also forced many schools to close. A situation made worse as thousands of Matabeleland's teachers have left the country for paying jobs in South Africa and Botswana.
Villagers in southern Matabeleland have appealed for more food aid as starvation worsens in the region.
Someone selling containers in Zimbabwe.

The price of containers to carry water has escalated in recent weeks.
Someone selling containers in Zimbabwe.
The price of containers to carry water has escalated in recent weeks
Aid agencies put the figure of the population needing food aid at three million but the government says only one million are in need.
Cholera and hunger are not the only headaches for President Robert Mugabe and his ruling elite in the region.
Their party, Zanu-PF, is struggling to prevent mass resignations of senior and junior officials in this region which supported Joshua Nkomo, not Robert Mugabe, during the 1970s liberation war and has never fully supported Mr Mugabe.
The health system here in Mashonaland West province, where President Robert Mugabe hails from, is collapsing with the provincial hospital being the last of six district hospitals to close.
For the past month, trained senior nurses and doctors have not reported for duty.
We have had seven
casualties in prison
and 16 more are under
quarantine in one cell
Guard at Chinhoyi prison
"The provincial referral hospital is being manned by student nurses and no operations are being conducted here," said a senior doctor, who refused to be named.
He added that they had to down tools after they failed to get their salaries from banks, where there are daily cash withdrawal limits.   The daily limit cannot even buy a loaf of bread.
The cholera outbreak has hit Chinhoyi prison.
Seven inmates have reportedly died.
Zimbabwe children collect stagnant water despite cholera risk.

School enrolment has dropped significantly in the past year.
Zimbabwean children collect stagnant water despite cholera risk
School enrolment has dropped significantly in the past year
"We have had seven casualties in prison and 16 more are under quarantine in one cell," said a prison guard, who cannot be named for fear of victimisation.
Provincial medical director Doctor Wenclilus Nyamayaro refused to comment, saying: "It's a security issue as it involves uniformed forces and I am not at liberty to comment."
In Karoi town, 204km (126 miles) north-west of Harare, immunisation programmes for children under five years old have been suspended.
Health workers at the hospital confirmed that immunisations for polio, measles, tetanus and other normally preventable and treatable diseases have had to be suspended as they have run out of the medication.
Last week district medical officer Dr Kudzai Zimbudzi was forced to carry out pauper burials for 10 bodies after mortuary attendants went on strike.
The corpses had been in the mortuary for three months — no-one had come to claim them.
Power cuts have badly affected mortuaries.
Schools officially close on Thursday for the Christmas holiday but for many, going to school has not been a reality for months.
Pupils, especially in rural areas, instead spend their days gathering wild fruits to eat.
Vending is the only
paying job in Zimbabwe
A former teacher
Teachers have joined the ranks of the country's starving professionals and many have turned to selling vegetables to put food on their tables.
In rural Hurungwe, teachers are not eligible for food aid.
"We are being sidelined by non-government organisations."
"We have to fetch wild fruits and edible roots for our survival," explained Sinikiwe, a teacher in remote Siakobvu, about 300km (186 miles) west of the capital, Harare.
A demonstrating nurse in Zimbabwe.

Many nurses and doctors in Zimbabwe are on strike.
Many nurses and doctors in Zimbabwe are on strike
Many in those towns have resorted to becoming street vendors in Chirundu — the border post town before crossing into Zambia — as a means of survival.
"Vending is the only paying job in Zimbabwe where you will not get frustrated by any employer.
"Government has neglected us and this year was the worst in the education sector.
"The army invigilated the grade seven [primary school leaving] exams.
"It is disastrous for the country's future," said a former teacher.
In Karoi, only a handful of pupils were going to school. School enrolment has dropped significantly.
In rural Zvimba, Mr Mugabe's home, the villagers are fighting with donkeys for wild fruit to eat.
Meanwhile, lawyers for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change are still battling to get access to 15 of their supporters who were abducted in Banket, a farming town in Mashonaland West, four weeks ago.
If the government can defy
court orders with such immunity,
then they will never respect
rule of law and political
affiliation in Zimbabwe politics
MDC lawyer Alec Muchadehama
Among those abducted by suspected state security agencies is a two-year-old boy called Nigel who was with his mother, Violet Mupfuranhwewe.
MDC lawyer Alec Muchadehama said: "Our frantic efforts have failed to bring even Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi and Police Chief Augustine Chihuri to comply with High Court ruling to bring the suspects to any police station or court.
"If the government can defy court orders with such immunity, then they will never respect rule of law and political affiliation in Zimbabwe politics."
The municipality of Victoria Falls has banned the sale of mangoes and fish in the resort town in a bid to control the spread of cholera.
A school child sells wild fruits alongside a roadside in Zimbabwe

Selling wild fruit is also a valuable source of income.
Selling wild fruit is also a valuable source of income
Mayor Nkosinathi Jiyane warned that anyone found selling fish, fresh or dry, and mangoes would be arrested and fined.
An anti-cholera campaign team has been formed and police are using loud speakers to announce precautions to be followed to prevent the spread of the disease.
Cholera has killed one person in Dete township and four in the urban area of Hwange despite government reports that the disease is under control.
Some residents in the province fear the disease might spread unabated with the onset of the rainy season because broken pipes have meant that a lot of business, health and education premises are now polluted with filthy and stagnant sewage.
In Hwange town, police and wildlife park rangers invaded the houses of owners suspected of selling uninspected meat.
Ladies carrying buckets of water are followed by a dog.

It is feared the onset of the rainy season will worsen the cholera crisis.
Ladies carrying buckets of water are followed by a dog
It is feared the onset of the rainy season will worsen the cholera crisis
Their blitz has also affected the informal traders selling vegetables and tomatoes in the streets and at out-door markets.
Traditional chiefs as well as political and religious leaders are saying that people are dying of hunger because of the food shortages.
The MP for Binga South area, Joel Ghabuza, told a story of a grandmother and her two grandchildren who died after eating wild fruits they had not known were in fact poisonous.
And from reports going round, there are many other similar tales of needless deaths.
There is no food in the province and if donors fail to assist this coming year the situation will deteriorate even further.
Most families have failed to prepare for farming because there are no seeds to plant.
Monday, 12 November 2007
Zimbabwean dies queuing for visa
Loaf of bread in empty trolley

Many Zimbabweans head to South Africa to escape economic misery
Many Zimbabweans head to South Africa to escape economic misery
A Zimbabwean job-seeker who collapsed and died in Cape Town last week, is said to have succumbed to starvation.
Adonis Musati, 23, was a police officer in Chimanimani in eastern Zimbabwe, but the economic crisis led him to South Africa to try to support his family.
He had spent a month at the Home Affairs Refugee Centre, trying to get a work permit, reportedly with nothing to eat, sleeping in a cardboard box.
His family said they had learned of Adonis's death on the internet.
The BBC's Southern Africa correspondent Adam Mynott says Adonis Musati left Zimbabwe and crossed into South Africa more than a month ago.
Like tens of thousands of his countrymen he had hoped to find work, but was unable to get a permit.
On Friday 2 November, he collapsed on a traffic island near the offices of South Africa's home affairs refugee centre in Cape Town and was found dead.
Braam Hanekom of Passop, a refugee rights organisation, told our reporter that Adonis appeared to have died of hunger, having not eaten for four days.
It is a disgrace that someone should die of hunger in one of South Africa's richest cities
Refugee rights spokesman Braam Hanekom
But fellow Zimbabweans who met him outside the refugee centre told the South African news website IOL that he had not eaten for two weeks.
"It is a disgrace that someone should die of hunger in one of South Africa's richest cities," said Mr Hanekom.
He said there are 25,000 Zimbabweans like Adonis Musati in Cape Town looking for work and food.
Up to 3m Zimbabweans have arrived in South Africa to escape the economic crisis in their own country.
Family members living in Sasolburg in the Free State, are now in Cape Town to identify his body and to make funeral arrangements.
His cousin Ivy Dhliwayo said the family had not heard of Mr Musati's death from the Zimbabwean consulate, nor from the South African government.
"(His twin brother) Adbell read a story on the internet, and that is how the whole family found out," she said.
Passop says it is funding the relatives' expenses and will try to get Musati's body back home for burial.
14 April 2007 | issue 2046
Zimbabwe: from liberation to dictatorship
Tens of thousands of people attend a rally to celebrate the end of minority rule in 1980

Tens of thousands of people attend a rally to celebrate the end of minority rule in 1980
Leo Zeilig
The struggle against white rule in Zimbabwe in the 1970s galvanised a generation in the hope of a new Africa.
Now the country has become a byword for repression.
Tracing the death of a dream
On 18 April 1980 the Union Jack was pulled down, the Zimbabwean flag raised and Bob Marley and the Wailers played live to thousands.
Zimbabwe was independent.
The victory over the Rhodesian regime of Ian Smith was celebrated around the world.
Prime minister Robert Mugabe was the incarnation of the struggle that had bought Zimbabwe’s freedom.
Zimbabwe emerged out of the authoritarian and racist state established by the British a century previously.
In 1890 the territory was marked out and handed to the imperialist adventurer Cecil Rhodes, who controlled the area for his British South Africa Company.
The following 40 years witnessed the mass expropriation of land from peasant farmers, the repression of any resistance, and forced labour in mines and factories.
Thousands of Africans were forced off their land and herded into “communal lands”, or reservations.
In 1962 the Rhodesian Front, a right wing party headed by the racist
Ian Smith, won power. Smith declared independence from Britain in 1965, in what was called a Unilateral Declaration of Independence.
Dictator Robert Mugabe has kept the trappings of liberation.
Dictator Robert Mugabe has kept the trappings of liberation
The decision to declare independence was made in the context of the growth of resistance in Rhodesia and rising politicisation.
Smith ruled with an iron fist.
His government killed thousands of so-called terrorists and herded rural Zimbabweans into concentration camps to cut them off from the nationalist freedom fighters.
Robert Gabriel Mugabe was among a group of radical nationalists that formed the Zimbabwe African National Union (Zanu) in 1963.
He showed his personal commitment to the struggle — he spent the decade from 1964 in a variety of prison camps and jails.
By the end of 1978 the united nationalist armed forces were somewhere between 35,000 and 40,000 strong.
The government’s forces were engaged on approximately six fronts, with martial law imposed throughout the whole country.
In 1980 liberation had been won.
Mugabe was the radical voice of Zimbabwean freedom, promising before independence that “none of the white exploiters will be allowed to keep an acre of their land”.
He vowed to end the massive inequalities in Zimbabwean society where more than 80 percent of industrial production was controlled by foreign capital and only 4,000 mostly white farmers controlled 70 percent of the most fertile land.
In the early 1980s the new government increased spending on health and education. Enrolment increased in primary education from 1.2 million in 1980 to more than 2.2 million by 1989, and in secondary schools from only 74,000 to 671,000 in the same period.
Arthur Mutambara, now a leader of the MDC opposition, remembers how he worshipped Mugabe:
“He was my hero, I used to idolise him.
I was sold to the socialist agenda and Zanu was our party of revolution.”
But independence in Zimbabwe had been won on strict conditions.
The 1979 Lancaster House agreement that led directly to independence guaranteed that the property rights of the white majority would be safeguarded.
Mugabe left the farmers untouched.
They were now not the “colonialists” and “imperialists” but rather useful allies to the regime.
The compromises, delays and ultimately the failure to confront the issue of redistribution were representative of Mugabe’s general approach.
He preached reconciliation with his old enemies:
“If yesterday I fought you as an enemy, today you have become a friend.
If yesterday you hated me, today you cannot avoid the love that binds you to me and me to you.”
As one person observed, “Despite its Marxist-Leninist rhetoric the Zanu-PF government tried to preserve the largely white-owned productive structures.”
The old structures of state repression remained intact.
Mugabe's police mete out repression to striking workers.
Mugabe's police mete out repression to striking workers
Zanu massacred black opponents in Matabeleland, in the south of the country.
It has been estimated that between 1981 and 1988 between 10,000 and 20,000 “dissidents”’ were killed.
The main trade union federation, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), was packed with Mugabe’s friends.
However, by the mid-1980s the economy had begun to stagnate.
From 1986 per capita GDP declined rapidly.
Loans from the World Bank were accepted by the government, causing foreign debt to rise from £400 million in 1980 to £1.5 billion in 1990.
The government introduced the first full Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP) in 1991.
Following similar — and similarly disastrous — programmes in most of Africa, the World Bank and the IMF insisted on the removal of import controls, changes to what was regarded as “restrictive” labour legislation and widespread public sector reforms.
The effects of these reforms were devastating.
The year after the implementation of the ESAP saw an 11 percent fall in GDP.
In 1993 unemployment reached a record 1.3 million from a total population of about 10 million.
New militancy was born out of the attacks.
The old leadership of the ZCTU was replaced by a new one. In 1988 Morgan Tsvangirai — a mine worker and activist — became general secretary of the ZCTU.
In 1996 Zimbabwean society exploded.
In August there was the first national government workers’ strike.
Tens of thousands came out on strike against job losses, bad working conditions and government corruption.
As the strike continued it developed clearly political aims.
An elected committee of rank and file trade unionists directed the strike.
Flying pickets moved from workplace to workplace arguing with workers to join the movement.
The following year saw more demonstrations and strikes than at any time since independence.
As Tendai Beti, a leading activist at the time, remembers, “You could smell working class power in the air.”
University students, informal traders and workers recently made redundant joined the struggle.
Brian Kagoro, a student leader in 1997, recalls:
“You now had students supporting their parents on their grants, because their parents had been laid off work.
As poverty increased you had a convergence of these forces.”
Former fighters from the guerrilla war against the Rhodesian state became galvanised by the mass upheavals.
These war veterans denounced Mugabe.
The ZCTU repeatedly sought to lead and direct the mass movement.
Rank and file activists, often organising in labour forums — where large groups of workers met to discuss politics — rushed ahead of union bureaucrats in organising strikes and demonstrations.
From 1998 a recurrent theme of the labour forums was the demand for the ZCTU to form a workers’ party.
Finally in September 1999 the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was born, and Morgan Tsvangirai became the movement’s first leader.
The MDC was formed directly out of the ZCTU, promising redistribution of wealth to the poor.
The mood in the country was jubilant.
The party almost won the parliamentary election in 2000, winning 57 of 120 elected seats.
The fact that it came close to toppling such a violent regime after having only existed for 16 months is an indication of the extent of the changes that were sweeping Zimbabwean society.
The MDC retained a working class base, but various NGOs, academics, businessmen and lawyers had added their voices to the calls for a new opposition.
So the demands for a new party carried a contradiction.
On the one hand they came from the labour forums and the streets, who wanted an end to privatisation, anti-union laws and the power of big business.
But on the other hand pressure was mounted by the middle class and some sections of business who were threatened by the movement they now sought to co-opt.
Mugabe was attacked by the masses, but he had also angered the global powers.
The IMF and World Bank shunned the regime, arguing it had caved in too easily to “sectional interests”.
Mugabe realised that the regime had to move quickly, and government rhetoric began to lambast “Western racism”.
Land was key to this reorientation.
The government sanctioned the occupation by war veterans of white-owned farms.
Before long Mugabe had outmanoeuvred the opposition in his party and won most of the regime behind his new “left wing” stance.
He remarketed himself as a leader of the fight against imperialism and globalisation.
But his partial withdrawal from structural adjustment was a cynical move forced on him by popular resistance and working class struggles.
The reality for most Zimbabweans has been a continuation of the same ­policies while the regime mouths ­platitudes about “foreign powers”.
Privatisation continues and the cost of fuel and food rises, while land is redistributed mainly to a coterie of Mugabe’s cronies.
Over the past three years Gideon Gono, the Reserve Bank governor, has rolled out an unforgiving programme of neoliberal reforms that have slashed subsidies to the poor, while resuming debt repayments to the International Monetary Fund.
Mugabe has given the governor his full support.
Millions face a daily struggle to survive, as unemployment has reached 80 percent.
Morgan Tsvangirai has repeatedly threatened to remove Mugabe by extra-parliamentary activity if he refuses to go legally.
But the path to this action has been blocked by a combination of repression and economic crisis.
The regime has unleashed a wave of terror, which has helped to paralyse the MDC.
Madzewo Chimuka, general secretary of Zimbabwe’s Graphical Workers Union (ZGWU), explains:
“Though we organised two national strikes in 2004, the environment was incredibly difficult.
We had about 50 workers who were severely beaten by police.”?
The MDC remains the repository of hope for the majority of Zimbabweans, who see the party as the only way of ridding the country of Mugabe.
Behind the party is the support of a generation of working class militants, who formed the movement in 1999 and stand firmly with it.
Canwell Muchadya, president of the ZGWU, expresses the difficulties for the opposition today.
He said:
“There is no rule of law and no jobs in Zimbabwe, so for the opposition to say to workers, ‘Come, let’s fight’ is very difficult because people will respond, ‘I will be beaten by the police and lose my job’.”?
Real improvements for Zimbabwe’s workers and peasants will not come from the authoritarian neoliberalism of Mugabe.
Nor will they come from the policies of George Bush and Tony Blair, those false friends of freedom who claim to want democracy in Zimbabwe.
Mugabe can be removed by a coup in his own party, by pressure from the West, or by a movement from below.
The fight is to achieve that final option, where workers and peasants mobilise and shape the fall of Mugabe in a way that benefits the majority rather than the imperialist world order.
Books to read
Leo Zeilig is the co-author of The Congo: Plunder and Resistance and Crisis in Zimbabwe, International Socialism Journal issue 94, Spring 2002.
Both are available at Bookmarks, the socialist bookshop.
© Copyright Socialist Worker
Demolition of homes
South Africa weapons maker Armscor responsible for brutality.
A elderly Zimbabwe man sits amidst his possessions in front of his destroyed home at the Porta Farm squatter camp near the town of Norton, 25 km (16 miles) west of Harare June 30, 2005.

Photo: AStringer/Reuters
A elderly Zimbabwe man sits amidst his possessions in front of his destroyed home at the Porta Farm squatter camp near the town of Norton, 25 km (16 miles) west of Harare June 30, 2005.
South African activist Hassan Lorgat hotly responded to one question.
Dreadlocks bounced as Zimbabweans in the audience nodded vigorously when Lorgat accused South African weapons maker Armscor of being part of the war against Zimbabwe's citizens.
Arnold Tsunga, of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, then tactfully took over to put the case more convincingly.
After they had taken part in the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1998, he explained, Zimbabwe's helicopters and jet fighters could not fly any more — the European Union's arms embargo saw to that.
But then Armscor came to the rescue by supplying parts and maintenance, Tsunga added.
Now the repaired helicopters and planes were being used to intimidate the population.
He said Armscor had helped Zimbabwe to circumvent the EU embargo, which in itself helped to persuade Zimbabweans that they had no chance against Mugabe's government.
There was also no resistance because soldiers and police did the burning down while riot-helmeted colleagues, heavily armed with Armscor-maintained weapons, kept cover.
"No human being deserves to be treated in this degrading manner, especially by their own government," Tsunga said.
The video footage made several telling points: not all the structures being targeted were illegal — many ruins had electrical pipes sticking out from all angles, and entire markets installed by the government itself were demolished.
Several buildings, like the Hatcliffe Aids orphan shelter, had been well-functioning facilities, supported by the government.
A wide-eyed nun said the demolition of Hatcliffe township had been the most traumatic experience of her life.
An elderly woman was shown sitting among bowls and appliances in her unwalled kitchen, refusing to move.
"They put in a polling station here before the election, so why are they now burning down everything?" asked one puzzled and angry victim.
Jean du Plessis, of an international housing NGO, said Mugabe's campaign could be construed as a crime against humanity and that his organisation would pursue the possibility of charges against Mugabe.
Hans Pienaar     Star     24/6/05
The United Nations is estimating that 700,000 people have been left without homes or their livelihood following the government's effort to destroy slum areas.
The UN estimates another 2.4 million people have been affected by the campaign.
The report called the program a "disastrous venture" that was being carried out "with indifference to human suffering."
Saturday, 8 April 2006
Zimbabweans have 'shortest lives'
Zimbabwean woman with child

Zimbabwean women are more likely than men to be infected by HIV
Zimbabwean woman with child
Zimbabwean women are more likely than men to be infected by HIV
Zimbabweans have the shortest life expectancy in the world, with neither men nor women likely to live until the age of 40, according to a UN report.
Zimbabwe's women have an average life expectancy of 34 years and men on average do not live past 37, it said.
The World Health Organisation report said women's life expectancy had fallen by two years in the last 12 months.
Correspondents say poverty because of the crumbling economy and deaths from Aids are responsible for the decline.
Zimbabwean women have the lowest life expectancy of women anywhere in the world, according to the report.
Women in the country are also more likely than men to be infected by the HIV virus.
'Economic meltdown'
According to the report, all 10 countries with the world's lowest life expectancy were in Africa.
People in Swaziland and Sierra Leone are also expected to die before they reach the age of 40, the report said.
Japan was said to have the highest life expectancy in the world, with people there living on average until 82.
According to the BBC's Africa editor, David Bamford, the latest figures are extraordinary for a country like Zimbabwe, which until 20 years ago, had a relatively high standard of living for Africa.
The HIV/Aids epidemic sweeping across southern Africa cannot alone be blamed for this - especially as recent figures show a slight drop in HIV infection rates in Zimbabwe.
Our correspondent says the key reason behind the drop in Zimbabwe's average life expectancy is the fall in the standard of living, triggered by an economic crisis.
Zimbabwe's economy has shrunk by an estimated 40% in the last seven years under President Robert Mugabe.
(Names of the girls have been changed to protect their identity.)




MDC supporterDivided opposition
MDC split plays into Robert Mugabe's hands


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
Thursday, 8 December 2005
Zimbabwe in meltdown — UN envoy
Jan Egeland visits people in Hatcliff camp near Harare
Zimbabwe is in "meltdown" says United Nations humanitarian chief Jan Egeland following a visit to the country.
He also said President Robert Mugabe's rejection of tents for hundreds of thousands of people evicted and made homeless this year is "puzzling".
Some 700,000 people lost their jobs or homes in a government demolition programme, an earlier UN report says.
"This disastrous eviction campaign was the worst possible thing, at the worst possible time," Mr Egeland said.
The government disputes the 700,000 UN figure and says it carried out slum clearances to reduce crime and overcrowding.
"The situation is very serious in Zimbabwe when life expectancy goes from more than 60 years to just over 30 years in a 15-year span — it's a meltdown, it's not just a crisis, it's a meltdown," Mr Egeland told the BBC in Johannesburg, immediately after his four-day trip to Zimbabwe.
He pointed to "the Aids pandemic, the food insecurity, the total collapse in social services".
Mr Egeland, the UN under secretary for humanitarian affairs, said donors had an obligation to help despite disagreements with the government — of which the offer of tents was the most notable.
"If they [tents] are good enough for people in Europe and the United States who have lost their houses, why are they not good enough for Zimbabwe?" he said.
Life expectancy 30 years
3m expecting food aid
20% adult HIV prevalence
3,000 Aids deaths each week
500,000 left homeless this year
200,000 lost livelihoods
Inflation has reached 400%
Crisis compounded by drought
Mr Mugabe's spokesman said Zimbabweans were "not tent people" and they wanted the UN to build permanent homes.
Mr Egeland said the government's rationale for the eviction campaign was deeply flawed.
"The eviction campaign seems to me wholly irrational in all of its aspects — you lowered the standard of living rather than increasing it."
'Extremely serious'
Mr Mugabe last week agreed to let the UN provide food aid to some three million people over the next year.
"The humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe is extremely serious and it is deteriorating," Mr Egeland said.
After "frank" talks with Mr Mugabe on Tuesday, Mr Egeland said they had agreed that the international community should do more to meet humanitarian needs in Zimbabwe.
"Our message to the government was to help us, to help you, to help your people."
And when asked why donors should fund the $276m being requested to save lives in Zimbabwe, Mr Egeland said "it is in no way punishing the government, to not help women and children in great need".
Mr Egeland spent Monday meeting people living in camps and said some of them were living in inadequate conditions — much worse than before.
When questioned on whether UN staff on the ground were negligent by failing to help Zimbabweans by seeking to avoid confrontation, he said he had raised the issue of criminal behaviour with Mr Mugabe.
"It's a criminal act to bulldoze someone's home who owned their land — there should be prosecutions."
Thursday, 9 June, 2005
Zimbabwe's new homeless
Man watches police demolish his house
Some were made to knock down their own homes
A Catholic priest, who did not want to be identified, described the scenes of devastation in the capital, Harare, to the BBC News website:
 Open areas are full of people living rough.
Whole families are huddled together around a pile of possessions, surrounded by the wreckage of their homes.
They are just waiting.   Many have nowhere to go.
They are being encouraged to go to their rural homes.   Some are going back — you can see a lot of trucks leaving Harare loaded up with what people have managed to save.
But many have not been there for a long time.   They don't have houses there anymore and are squatting with relatives for the moment.
June is one of the coldest months of the year — it can get down to 0C — and I know of four people who have died after spending two weeks sleeping in the open.
Some are burning their possessions to keep warm and because they cannot afford to pay to transport them to rural areas.
Some people are starting to show signs of malnutrition, as they cannot cook, or they have no money to buy food.
Churches invaded
There is also nowhere to wash and I am worried about an outbreak of disease.
Some children have had to be pulled out of school.
In some parts of Harare, people have gone to spend the nights in their local churches.
But in my area, there are too many people to fit in our church.
We are assisting people by giving them food and blankets and bus fares to those who have somewhere to go.
Just this morning, I have paid out 10m Zimbabwe dollars (US$500) in bus fares.
Those living rough are afraid that the police might come back and "discipline" them.
In many parts of Harare, such as where I grew up, the houses were initially "matchbox" houses, with four rooms, surrounded by gardens.
But as the population grew, people built extensions without planning permission.   With all the extensions, you could have as many as 14 rooms, housing up to 30 people, in what was originally a four-room house.
So now, all these extensions have been demolished.   In some cases, this means three-quarters of the living space.
Some families were ordered to knock down their own homes.
People are trying to cram into the four, original rooms but it is impossible.
Still going on
Those areas of Harare which have not been directly affected by the demolitions are now becoming overcrowded, as people go to stay with their friends and relatives.
The demolitions and evictions started in Mbare in the city centre, then they moved to the western townships such as Kambazuma, and then Tafara in the east.
And they are still going on.   Houses are being knocked down as we speak.
The whole city has been hit, as well as cities across the country.
But outside Harare, only illegal market stalls have been affected, not houses.
There is a holding camp on the outskirts of Harare, with maybe 200 people.
The police are guarding them but no-one knows what to do with the people.
They have nowhere to wash, except for local streams.
Friday, 22 July, 2005
UN condemns Zimbabwe slum blitz
A boy looks after his family home after the property was destroyed west of Harare, Zimbabwe (30 June)
Thousands of 'illegal' homes have been destroyed
A major UN report has called for an immediate end to Zimbabwe's slum clearance programme, declaring it to be in violation of international law.
Hundreds of thousands of homes in the country's shanty towns have been torched and bulldozed in recent months.
Zimbabwe says the demolitions aim to clean up urban areas and ensure building regulations are followed.
But the UN report, to be released in full later on Friday, says the policy is disastrous and inhumane.
The BBC's Susannah Price at UN headquarters in New York says the UK and US are likely to use the hard-hitting document to renew their calls for the UN to take immediate action.
To date, the Security Council has refused to call a meeting on the clearances.
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe usually rejects any criticism, as coming from racists, or their stooges, opposed to his nationalist stance but correspondents say this will be more difficult with this report.
It was compiled by Kofi Annan's special envoy Anna Tibaijuka, a respected international diplomat from Tanzania, a country with close political links to Zimbabwe.
The report calls for an immediate halt to the slum clearances which it says have affected a total of two million people.
"While purporting to target illegal dwellings and structures [the operation] was carried out in an indiscriminate and unjustified manner, with indifference to human suffering," it says, according to an excerpt cited by the Associated Press news agency.
Before and after demolition
Zimbabwe says the policy — known as Operation Murambatsvina [Drive Out Rubbish] — is intended to crack down on black-market trading and other criminal activity in the slum areas.
But the report says, whatever the motive, the result is ill-conceived and inhumane.
Hundreds of thousands have been forced to seek shelter elsewhere as their homes are destroyed.
The opposition says the evictions are meant to punish urban residents, who have rejected President Robert Mugabe in favour of the opposition in recent elections.
The report has already been presented to Zimbabwe's government and will be presented to all UN members on Friday.
Zimbabwe poor suffer under Mugabe clampdown
Wednesday 08 June 2005
By Mark Olden and Michelle de Mello in Harare
Operation Murambatsvina has rendered 200,000 homeless
A campaign which the Zimbabwe government says restores order and reduces crime, is threatening to further deepen the country's economic and political crisis.
Already plagued by rampant mass unemployment, power cuts, and fuel and food shortages, many of Zimbabwe's poor are finding themselves evicted from their homes because of the security clampdown and roadblocks, which the government says is part of Operation Murambatsvina.
In the native Shona language, murambatsvina means "drive out trash".
Since 19 May, the operation has led to 30,000 arrests and according to Miloon Kothari, a UN housing expert, rendered as many as 200,000 people homeless.
Riot police have bulldozed illegal shacks where swathes of the population lived, and smashed the flea markets where they sold fruit, vegetables, sweets and second-hand clothes in one of the world's most shattered economies.
Turning point?
Many in Zimbabwe believe Operation Murambatsvina — adding to fuel shortages, intermittent power cuts, and shops empty of milk, bread, sugar and maize meal (the staple food for the 11.6 million population) — could signal Zimbabwe's turning point.
Mugabe's government says the clean-up is to reduce crime
Officially, the government says that Murambatsvina is about cleaning up the country and ridding it of criminal elements. "Our towns and cities had become havens for illicit and criminal practices which could not be allowed to go on," said President Robert Mugabe in a recent speech.
Elliot Manyika, Zanu-PF's national commissar, told the local press that the economy needed to account for informal businesses and order needed to be restored to urban areas.
But the opposition maintains that the operation is directed at the urban poor in retribution for the 31 March parliamentary elections, when they voted overwhelmingly for the MDC, which lost the election in a disputed result.
"This is going to be an ungovernable country very soon," says prominent opposition activist Tonderai Ndira, 28. "People are now desperate and ready to meet fire with fire."
The roadblocks indiscriminately clustered across Zimbabwe are not designed to ensnare opposition activists or foreign reporters, but errant drivers.
Support for the MDC is strong in the Mabvuku township
Just east of Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, a group of journalists approach the first police roadblock, close to the barbed-wire perimeter of the notorious Chikurubi maximum security prison
Heading to Mabvuku, one of the country's most restive townships, we are far from inconspicuous: Two foreign journalists in a dilapidated old banger accompanied by prominent activists from Zimbabwe's main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
Ndira says he has been arrested 27 times and severely tortured by the police. Muzuva, also 28 and a security officer for the MDC, has knotted welts on one arm and both legs which he claims came from a politically motivated shooting 18 months ago.
His assailant walked free, he says.
A baby-faced police officer languidly approaches our car and demands to see the driver's papers. After a brief exchange of words, 100,000 Zimbabwe dollars — about $5 at the black market exchange rate — is handed over. We are on our way.
At least until the next roadblock that awaits us half a mile away.
We arrive in Mabvuku, 19km east of the capital. Granite boulders called kopjes form an exquisite backdrop to this once relatively prosperous township of around 50,000.
Zanu-PF, which has ruled Zimbabwe since the country's independence from Britain in 1980, may retain support in the countryside, but in Mabvuku, like most other townships, hatred may be brewing against the country's leaders.
Robert Mugabe is looking to China for assistance, locals say
For most of the past two months, residents have been without water or electricity. Yet their rates have continued to rise. Children play in a nearby sewer and people have resorted to fetching water from boreholes and using the bush for the toilet.
Ndira ushers us into a dark, sparsely furnished three-room house, home to 16 people. The only light filters through cracks in the door. A small crowd soon shuffles in. They are unwilling to give their names, but eager to talk.
A middle-aged woman charges the government with sabotage. "The only people being punished are in MDC strongholds. People are being chased away from their houses and replaced by soldiers. They don't care where we go, whether we go and live in the bush."
Look East policy
The group then repeat a rumour that's sweeping Harare — the government has cleared the flea markets in town as part of a business deal with the Chinese, who will soon take over the vacated areas. "Mugabe has no friends in the West, so now he's turned to China," says the woman.

“People are being chased away from their houses and replaced by soldiers. They don't care where we go, whether we go and live in the bush”
Mabvuku resident

In recent months the Zimbabwean government has implemented a Look East policy, spending $500 million on Chinese arms and aircraft.
Their claims cannot be independently verified.
Meanwhile, among the poor ever more desperate survival strategies are being adopted. "It [the situation] is forcing our daughters to be prostitutes," says the woman. Schoolgirls as young as 14 are changing out of their uniforms after class and heading to the local beer halls to sell themselves for about $1 or simply a packet of crisps.
A middle-aged man in a smart suit — but like most residents, no job to wear it to — says people are increasingly turning to Kachasu, a noxious homemade brandy that "burns the lungs" and "makes you deadly drunk".
"People can forget about life and everything," he says.
The only hope, the group unanimously agree, is when there is a change of government: "Only when Mugabe is removed can there be change."
Search for fuel
We leave Mabvuku with Muzuva and Ndira and attempt to get fuel on the black market — the only place it is available — in order to leave Harare.
Petrol is in great shortage in many areas of Zimbabwe
The electricity is out, night has fallen and half the city is shrouded in darkness. Fires glow by the roadsides. Stalls lie overturned in broken heaps where markets bustled just a few hours before.
Thousands, including schoolchildren, are on the streets, stranded without means of getting home as there is no fuel for the public transport. Eventually, the army arrives and transports people back to the townships free of charge.
After hunting for hours, our search for fuel proves fruitless. It will be another day before we can leave Harare.
Wednesday, 13 July, 2005
Church outrage at Zimbabwe raids
Zimbabweans in a temporary camp
People are living in the open in Zimbabwe's winter
South African church leaders have accused Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe of "trampling on humanity" with the recent destruction of houses.
A South African church delegation has just completed a visit to Zimbabwe to see the consequences of raids on shack dwellers and informal traders.
Shack demolitions over the past two months have left more than 200,000 people homeless, according to the UN.
The government says the crackdown is aimed at ridding cities of criminals.
The police have this week started demolitions in more affluent parts of the capital, Harare.
Eddie Make, deputy secretary general of the South African Council of Churches (SACC) said a visit to the Caledonia transit camp near Harare, to which people have been relocated, had caused the delegation "a lot of pain".
"People had literally been removed from their places of abode and dumped in a remote area with no cover other than plastic sheets and pieces of wood they had cut from surrounding trees in order to protect them from the winter cold," he told the BBC's Network Africa programme.
Mr Make said the delegation appreciated that governments have a responsibility for law and order.
"But we are of the opinion that this is not creating order," he said. "Rather, it is disrupting the lives of people."
Political solution
"We would like to say to President Mugabe that he is trampling on the humanity of people and as we believe all people, regardless of whether they are poor or engaged in illegal activities, are created in the image of God it is therefore incumbent upon the political authorities to respect their human dignity."
Mr Make said that as a church organisation, SACC would pray for those responsible for the actions.
"Secondly we would like to encourage churches in South Africa and around the world to write letters of support to the people of Zimbabwe," he said.
A seven-year-old boy crying after his home was demolished
This seven-year-old boy cried after his home was knocked down
He added his organisation would campaign for aid and relief to Zimbabwe, because "it is quite apparent that this kind of assistance is not being offered by the Zimbabwean government, and it is an open secret that when aid is made available to the country it is being used for political purposes".
Mr Make also said SACC would "be facilitating a political solution for the people of Zimbabwe through talking to the president of South Africa".
Anglican Archbishop Njonkulu Ndungane and Catholic Cardinal Wilfred Napier were also part of the interdenominational church delegation.
New South African Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka has also visited Zimbabwe.
After meeting Mr Mugabe, she said her country was working to understand the challenges facing Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile, a motion condemning the demolitions has been rejected by Zimbabwe's parliament.
It was proposed by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change but lost the vote 54-33.
Friday, 1 July, 2005
More deaths in Zimbabwe's blitz
Vendors salvage goods from fire started by police
Vendors salvage goods from fire started by police
So far 275,000 people are thought to have been made homeless
Three more people have died in Zimbabwe's controversial urban slum demolition scheme, says rights group Amnesty International.
UN envoy Anna Tibaijuka visited the site where two women — one pregnant — and a boy were reportedly killed.
She told homeless residents they should keep calm, reports Reuters news agency.
In a separate move, the World Food Programme (WFP) said Zimbabwe's current food shortages made it one of the most worrying countries in the world.
The month-long demolition programme is so far thought to have left 275,000 people homeless. At least three other children have been crushed to death during the operation.
Thousands of the displaced people are now living on the streets, while others have gone back to rural areas, and some have moved into unaffected parts of the cities.
Homes in Harare shanty town being destroyed
Over the last 48 hours... a shanty town of at least 10,000 people, has been obliterated
Kolawole Olaniyan
Amnesty International
UN move
United Nations chief Kofi Annan sent his envoy to Zimbabwe amid the continuing demolitions, which have been strongly criticised by the US and Britain.
The demolition site witnessed by Ms Tibaijuka was at Porta Farm, in the suburbs of the capital, Harare.
Residents told her how bulldozers destroyed their homes on Wednesday and Thursday.
"[A young boy] panicked when he saw police destroying houses and tried to run away. He didn't see the oncoming police truck which killed him," Jane Petter told her, AFP reports.
Amnesty International's Kolawole Olaniyan said: "Over the last 48 hours, Porta Farm, a shanty town of at least 10,000 people, has been obliterated."
President Robert Mugabe has defended the demolitions, arguing that they are rooting out criminals involved in black market trading, and are part of a programme to regenerate cities.
Humanitarian crisis
The UN Security Council, in a discussion on Africa's food crisis, criticised the demolitions.
Robert Mugabe
Mr Mugabe says the slums were cleared to root out crime
Britain's ambassador to the UN, Emyr Jones-Parry, said the government was to blame for many of the problems facing Zimbabwe.
"It is man-made and not a natural phenomenon. The economic collapse in Zimbabwe is the result of bad policies and bad governance," he said.
Acting US ambassador Anne Patterson said America was deeply concerned about the demolition scheme and urged the government to begin a dialogue with the opposition to help reverse the economy's continuing decline.
WFP head James Morris told the Security Council that more than four million people needed emergency food aid in Zimbabwe.
On a recent visit there, he had told Mr Mugabe that the WFP would help with food distribution, but only if it was allowed to operate freely without government interference.
He said he was told the government wanted to feed its own people.
South Africa hits back
Before and after demolition
Meanwhile South African has hit back at accusations that it has been silent about Zimbabwe's problems.
"President Thabo Mbeki has been very clear on this — he went to Zimbabwe twice, and in the presence of President Mugabe expressed his displeasure about things that were going on in Zimbabwe," South African presidential spokesman Bheki Khumalo told the BBC.
"The notion that we have not spoken out is not true.
"As Africans we must do as much as possible to encourage dialogue between [Mr Mugabe's] Zanu-PF and the [opposition] MDC," he added.
On the issue of the recent housing evictions, Mr Khumalo said South Africa would wait for the UN special envoy's findings.
Friday, 10 June, 2005
Boy watching house being demolished
Thousands of people are living rough after their homes were demolished
Most businesses are open as normal in the Zimbabwe capital, Harare, on the second day of a strike in protest at the demolition of illegal homes.
Correspondents say the strike was poorly organised and was difficult to publicise in a country where the state controls most media outlets.
On Thursday, President Robert Mugabe defended the crackdown, which the UN says has made 200,000 people homeless.
He said the three-week blitz was needed "to restore sanity" to cities.
As part of the strike, opposition MPs boycotted Mr Mugabe's speech as parliament was officially opened following after elections in March.
Traffic in Harare is somewhat lighter than usual. There has been a heavy police presence in poor neighbourhoods during the strike, which was called by an alliance of opposition parties, trade unions and lobby groups.
The main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, announced its backing for the strike only one day before it was due to state.
Many Zimbabweans thought the strike was only a rumour, as it was not reported by state-controlled radio, TV or daily newspapers.
Some workers who still have formal jobs were either afraid of police retaliation or unwilling to lose two days' pay.
Police have warned they will deal "ruthlessly" with any street protests.
President Robert Mugabe outside parliament
Mr Mugabe said he was 'restoring sanity' to Zimbabwe's cities
During the three-week crackdown against illegal homes and trading, bulldozers have razed shantytowns and markets in Harare and other cities, and armed police have made some residents knock down their own houses.
A Catholic priest told the BBC News website that many people were living rough, surrounded by a few possessions, despite the cold winter nights.
'New apartheid'
The government says the house demolitions are necessary to clean up Zimbabwe's urban areas, and that the crackdown on traders is targeting those involved in illegally trading foreign currency and scarce foodstuffs, such as sugar.
"The current chaotic state of affairs where small- to medium-scale enterprises operated outside the regulatory framework and in undesignated and crime-ridden areas could not be countenanced much longer," Mr Mugabe said.
Some 30,000 people have been arrested.
Church groups and opposition parties, which are critical of the government action, combined to form the "Broad Alliance" and call the strike.
They say the crackdown is aimed at driving opposition supporters back to rural areas, where they have less influence.
The UN has demanded that Mr Mugabe stop the eviction operation, which it describes as a new form of "apartheid".
The UN Human Rights Commission estimates that up to 200,000 people may have been made homeless by the operation.

Thursday, June 30th, 2005
Zimbabwe Amb. vs. Trade Union Leader on Forced Urban Removal in Harare

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In Zimbabwe, a government-sponsored urban clearance campaign is the center of a heated debate within the country and around the world.  Critics see the campaign as a move to drive out political opposition and punish those who supported the opposition group, Movement for Democratic Change, in recent parliamentary elections.  Estimates of the number affected range between 300,000 and 1.5 million of the urban poor.  At least two children have been crushed to death in demolished houses.  A United Nations envoy met with President Mugabe yesterday during a visit to assess the results of the campaign.  We speak with Simbi Veke Mubako, Zimbabwe's ambassador to the United States, Wellington Chibebe, the secretary general of the Zimbabawe Congress of Trade Unions and Bill Fletcher, president of TransAfrica.  [includes rush transcript — partial]
In Zimbabwe, a government-sponsored urban clearance campaign is the center of a heated debate within the country and around the world.  President Robert Mugabe says "Operation Murambatsvina" is a clean-up operation intended to rid the capital, Harare, of illegal structures and crime.  The government said it would step up a new housing program to benefit those left homeless.
Critics see the campaign as a move to drive out political opposition and punish those who supported the opposition group, Movement for Democratic Change, in recent parliamentary elections.
Since the campaign was launched on May 19, police have burned and bulldozed tens of thousands of shacks, street stalls and vegetable gardens.  Estimates of the number affected range between 300,000 and 1.5 million of the urban poor.  At least two children have been crushed to death in demolished houses.
More than 200 international human rights and civic groups last week demanded an end to the campaign.  So have Western governments, including the U.S., Britain and Australia.  Zimbabwe's Roman Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube called for Mugabe's arrest and prosecution on Friday.
On June 9th, President Mugabe defended the campaign in an address to Parliament, citing the regulation of small-medium enterprises, or SMEs, as a major aim.
  • President Robert Mugabe
    "The current chaotic state of affairs, where SME'S (small businesses) operated outside the regulatory framework and undesignated and crime ridden areas, could not be countenanced for much longer.  In tandem with the ongoing cleanup campaign the government is in a process of reorganising the sectors operation — the process which include the provision of essential and dignified infrastructure, vendor-mart, technical and management skills training and clustering the enterprises in designated areas."

President Mugabe speaking earlier this month.  Both the African Union and South African President Thabo Mbeki have refused to condemn what they call Zimbabwe's "internal affairs."  This has provoked sharp criticism from UK Prime Minister Tony Blair as well as international human rights organizations.

Simbi Veke Mubako (top)

Wellington Chibebe

A United Nations envoy met with President Mugabe yesterday during a visit to assess the results of the campaign.  UN envoy Anna Tibaijuka reported having a "constructive discussion" with Mugabe.

Also this week, state doctors went on strike to protest low pay.  And the government announced it would raise medical fees and triple the price of gasoline to bail the country out of economic crisis.

  • Simbi Veke Mubako, Zimbabwe's ambassador to the United States.
  • Wellington Chibebe, secretary general of the Zimbabawe Congress of Trade Unions, speaking from Harare.
  • Bill Fletcher, president of TransAfrica.

AMY GOODMAN:    On June 9, President Mugabe defended the campaign in an address to Parliament, citing the regulation of small-medium enterprises, or SMEs, as a major aim.

    PRESIDENT ROBERT MUGABE: The current chaotic state of affairs, where SMEs operated outside the regulatory framework and in undesignated and crime-ridden areas, could not be countenanced for much longer.  In tandem with the ongoing cleanup campaign the government is in the process of reorganizing the sectors operations, a process which will include the provision of essential and dignified infrastructure, vendor marts, technical and management skills training and clustering the enterprises in designated areas.

AMY GOODMAN:    President Mugabe speak earlier this month.  Both the African Union and South Africa President Thabo Mbeki have refused to condemn what they call Zimbabwe's internal affairs, which has provoked sharp criticism from Tony Blair, Prime Minister of Britain, as well as international human rights groups.  A U.N. envoy met with President Mugabe yesterday during a visit to assess the results of the campaign.  The U.N. envoy, Anna Tibaijuka, reported having a (quote) “constructive discussion” with Mugabe.  Also this week, state doctors went on strike to protest low pay, and the government announced it would raise medical fees and triple the price of gasoline to bail the country out of economic crisis.
We're going to start with the Zimbabwe’s ambassador to the United States, Simbi Veke Mubako.  Also on the line with us from Washington, Bill Fletcher, President of TransAfrica.  And we'll go to Harare, as well.  Ambassador, can you talk about what is happening now in Zimbabwe and what this campaign that has been so criticized by many is about?
SIMBI VEKE MUBAKO:    Well, the campaign is slum clearance, basically.  It's getting rid of slums, which have mushroomed around our big cities, and illegal trading, which had also mushroomed throughout our big cities.  And the result of all of those illegal structures has been an increase in crime, an increase in disease, because this place is unsanitary, and economic dislocation related to those structures.  So, because of that, the government planned to remove them and then replace them with better housing and better trading facilities.
JUAN GONZALEZ:    But, Mr. Ambassador, in a slum clearance program, normally, in most countries, there's at least some kind of effort to build new housing first before you move the people out.  Where would they stay in the meantime while you are building, supposedly, the new housing for the residents of these slums?
SIMBI VEKE MUBAKO:    Well, that's the ideal situation, but it's not possible in every case.  In fact, it has never been done in any slum clearance that I have heard about.  There's been slum clearance in the north of England.  There's been slum clearance in Nigeria.  There's been slum clearance operations in many other African countries.  You can’t hope to have built all of the houses and allow crime and unhygienic conditions to continue in the meantime, to be perpetuating illegality, in any case.
AMY GOODMAN:    We're talking to the ambassador from Zimbabwe to the United States, Ambassador Simbi Veke Mubako.  Also Bill Fletcher of TransAfrica is on the line.  And in Harare, we have just been joined by Wellington Chibebe, the Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions.  Can you share your perspective on this issue right now, Wellington Chibebe?
WELLINGTON CHIBEBE:    Well, thank you for the time.  I'm glad that you also brought in the ambassador to Washington, and he is attempting to justify the cruel exercise taking place here at home.  But he, unfortunately, is speaking from Washington, is speaking on the situation which is happening here in Zimbabwe, and I know Ambassador Mubako very well.  We come from the same area, and I understand he comes from a very humble background, like myself.  And for one to speak eloquently the way he is doing, justifying the cruelties being visited upon our people by the government, is unfortunate.
The fact of the matter is that — or that Zimbabwe is faced with a situation whereby 85% of this population, the active labor market, are unemployed.  And to this end, you can visually or automatically see and translate what that would mean to the population.  And therefore, this is the situation here, and these are the people who are now making a living out of the informal economy, and mind you, we together with the government were at the International Labor Conference in 2002 and approved that the informal economy needs to be assisted, and we will actually be working on a program which would assist in poverty alleviation.  But what has just happened through this government program is actually going to worsen that position.  It's actually going to perpetuate the poverty instead of alleviating poverty.
JUAN GONZALEZ:    Wellington Chibebe, you have visited some of the camps where those who have had their homes bulldozed have been forced into.  Could you talk about conditions there and the latest events in recent days there?
WELLINGTON CHIBEBE:    Yes.  I have had the courage to visit some of the camps, although the camps are heavily guarded by plain-clothed security personnel who do not allow the occupants of these camps to talk to what they term “strangers.”  The situation is pathetic, to say the least.  What is said or what is portrayed on television to give an impression that these people are staying in nice tents or are given adequate medication is not true.  It's unfortunate that the powers that be would want to play around with people's brains and play football with the victims of disaster. 
I was at Caledonia farm, which is holding camp about 20K to the east of Harare.  This camp reminds me of the situation of the liberation struggle when people were shoved into protected villages around Chiweshe and some parts of MashEast.  We are being reminded of that situation by our own government.  And the sanitary conditions there are poor.  The food — the government, initially, they did not allow any government — any non-governmental organizations or humanitarian organization to go with any assistance until or unless one gets approval from government.  And we consider this as being untoward and inhuman.
AMY GOODMAN:    We are listening to Wellington Chibebe, the Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions in Harare.  Ambassador Simbi Veke Mubako is on the line with us, the Zimbabwean ambassador to the United States.  Ambassador, your response to these descriptions.
SIMBI VEKE MUBAKO:    Well, there’s really nothing which Mr. Chibebe has said which contradicts what I have been saying.  The truth of the matter is that the conditions in which these people have been living were intolerable in any case.  Neither Mr. Chibebe or me or any of the people that clamor, the British government and so on, would like to live in those conditions.  So those conditions had to be terminated, and we are trying to build new conditions.  So, you know, that's the long and short of the matter.
JUAN GONZALEZ:    We're also joined on the phone by Bill Fletcher of TransAfrica.  Bill Fletcher, you have been long active in this country in building support for the liberation movements in Africa, and like many of us in the progressive movement, you in the past have supported the efforts of the Zimbabwean African National Union and Robert Mugabe.  Your view of what's going on now, and all of us, obviously, are skeptical when we hear pronouncements from the British government or the United States about what is going on in Zimbabwe, but your perspective on what's going on there?
BILL FLETCHER:    Well, thank you.  Thank you very much, Juan and Amy.  I think we have to be clear that neither Blair nor Bush have the moral authority to criticize what's going on in Zimbabwe.  So, we should just shove that aside and just look at the concrete situation.  I think that the — what the ambassador was saying, unfortunately, just does not pass the straight face test.  You cannot explain how somewhere between 200,000 and 1.5 million people in a four-week period would be removed from their homes without other adequate housing for them in the middle of winter?  I mean, can you imagine in the United States if we bulldozed Harlem in January and said, we're going to — we're eventually going to set up homes?  I mean, there is something problematic in this, and it's for this reason that many people, many deep and intense friends of Zimbabwe, are saying something is fundamentally wrong with the way that this is being approached.  And it raises all sorts of questions about what the motivations are.
AMY GOODMAN:    The numbers again that you just cited, Bill Fletcher.
ALLAN NAIRN:    200,000 to 1.5 million.  The United Nations says that it's somewhere in that range over four weeks.  I mean, it’s — AMY GOODMAN:    Let me ask this, Ambassador Veke Mubako, is this your understanding?  200,000 to 1.5 million?
SIMBI VEKE MUBAKO:    No.  Those figures — those figures are suspect.  They are wild figures.  We don't have 1.5 — I mean, in the whole population of Harare is about 1.5 million.  You would have been emptying the whole population of Harare.  If it were anything like that figure were being removed.  The majority of the people in Harare are still housed in Harare, and they have got good housing.  It's just the camps which were mushrooming around the cities that are affected.
AMY GOODMAN:    Wellington Chibebe.
SIMBI VEKE MUBAKO:    The figures are wild.  You know, why not ask the government to give you the right figures?
AMY GOODMAN:    Wellington Chibebe, your response.  Also, we're talking about removal.  We also have been hearing reports of deaths.  Wellington Chibebe, you're in Harare.  Your response?
WELLINGTON CHIBEBE:    Yes.  It's unfortunate that the ambassador would want to duck out, as it were.  He knows pretty well that Harare’s population is not 1.5.  Assuming that he was in Harare maybe two weeks ago, that’s too conservative a figure.  And also the fact of the matter is that these people were not being removed from camps.  Let me emphasize.  These people were removed from places like Gumbare, places like Makokoba, Glenview, well-established high-density residential areas.  The so-called camps you would want to amplify on are maybe to some extent Redcliff extension and the Whitecliff Farm and maybe in the Bulawayo around Kilani.
But all having been said and done, it must be put on record that these camps were as a result of the green light coming from government, and we have got evidence of government officials, ministers officiating at these camps, legitimizing the camps and giving hope to these people that this will be a new home.  And as I speak I have got the high court judgment, which was handed down last year in respect to Porter Farm, just 40 Ks out of Harare, where the high court ruled that the government was not supposed to evict, demolish these structures until and unless they find alternative accommodations for these people.  But yesterday, but one, bulldozers were sent to Porter Farm, and they razed everything down, despite the fact that the lawyer representing these people was there present waving the high court judgment, and police were saying they don't — they are not run by the courts.  And what law or what rule of law or what criminality is the matter they are talking about when the government is not respecting its own laws, when it's treating its own citizens?  That's hypocrisy. 
JUAN GONZALEZ:    Ambassador Veke Mubako, what about that issue at the high court rule that the government could not raze those homes in Porter Farm without first providing residences?
SIMBI VEKE MUBAKO:    Well, I'm not talking individual cases, because the individual cases have got to be followed up by the lawyers concerned.  And if it's a matter which the high court is faced with, it, you know, it has got to be decided on its facts.  But the general picture —
JUAN GONZALEZ:    But once the homes are demolished, it's moot what happens in the court, isn't it?
SIMBI VEKE MUBAKO:    No, well, if the homes are demolished illegally, there will be compensation paid, but that's — it's not decided yet that the homes have been decided illegally.  In fact, in most cases, the structures were illegal [inaudible] in any case, because the structures which may have grown up in the townships, which Mr. Chibebe has been mentioning, I feel, then and others, would have been those additions which were done without planning — without planning permission.  They have been such structures even in the low density areas, and I know of high government supporters themselves were caught up in this, were keeping goats, chickens and other things, animals behind their houses.
Now, all of this is, in fact, illegal.  And there's no way any government can permit this to go on.  It doesn't matter how it started.  Even if at one time it was — you know, it was — it seemed to be [inaudible] on, it was illegal.  And it's time to put a stop to it.  In fact, it was a mistake to allow these informal structures — it's not just the housing.  It's informal trading structures, [inaudible], for example, which mushroomed and was allowed to go on for a long time.  And when [inaudible] in the middle of town, and all of those things are illegal, and many people have been pointing out, including myself, that this should never be allowed, and now some of us are very pleased that government has at long last decided to put an end to it.
And the way it was done is, of course, important.  One should not say that you should go on in indiscriminately routing out people.  People should not be wrapped up.  And anyone who is injured or affected deserves compensation.  And — but you cannot expect that in a big operation such as this one that there would be no accidents, and to talk of two people who are — who have accidentally been killed in an operation which — which you say involves 300,000 people, is trying to — just to sensationalize misfortune.
AMY GOODMAN:    Wellington Chibebe, your response in Harare to the Zimbabwean ambassador to the United States about the — is your number the same as the ambassador's?  Two deaths?
WELLINGTON CHIBEBE:    My heart bleeds.
SIMBI VEKE MUBAKO:    I have not said there have been two deaths.  [inaudible].
WELLINGTON CHIBEBE:    My heart bleeds when a person of the ambassador, who has got a legal background to that effect, in the high respected legal person in Zimbabwe would do just dismiss what is happening in Zimbabwe for political mileage.  It's unfortunate for any person, a government representative for that matter, where one who have lost a soul or a relative, for the official to say that such people would be compensated.  Because having grown up in the rural areas myself I have never seen where a death has been compensated by bringing up or bringing back a life.  And the figures being stated by the ambassador are not true.  As we speak we have got information that there have been four deaths today at Porter Farms.  In Glenview, they — it is said that there are four deaths again.  Those two deaths he is talking about, about the kids who were reported in the [inaudible] were defaced to death, but the deaths are continuing through the demolition accident, as you say, through exposure to harsh weather conditions, because we are in winter.  If you raze down a home and you put people’s belongings on the tarmac and all that the neighbors not for accommodate the victims simply because by accommodating the victims, you will be actually defying government program.  This is the cruelty at its worst, and I never expected this to come out of a liberation-led government, who liberated us from the jaws of slavery, taking us 20 years after independence, taking us back to the same situation we were, and that the [inaudible], it's shocking to get that from the ambassador.
JUAN GONZALEZ:    Bill Fletcher, yeah, I'd like to bring in Bill Fletcher here.  Obviously, within the progressive movement in the United States, the debate continues on this issue: What should be the position of the progressive movement in this country vis-a-vis what’s going on in Zimbabwe currently; your thoughts?
BILL FLETCHER:    Well, you know, I think that many of us lived through — in the United States, lived through the 1950s, ‘60s urban renewal, which many of us called negro removal, and even in those circumstances when our homes were knocked down, people would get some degree of notice.  But it destroyed entire communities.  We're looking at a situation, and the ambassador and I can go on and on until the cows come home in terms of the actual numbers of people, but something — it just simply doesn't make sense that in a four-week period by his own admission, hundreds of thousands of people would have their homes knocked down.  And yes, yes, there's issues of crime, but the reality, as Mr. Chibebe was pointing out, is that Zimbabwe is locked in a major economic crisis right now where people are attempting to survive using a variety of different means.  To now determine, ‘oops, we got a problem, we are going to knock down the homes of hundreds of thousands of people,’ it simply doesn't make sense.  And it seems to me that it's important for people who are friends of Zimbabwe, as opposed to people like Bush and Blair, to express our deep concern to the government of Zimbabwe that this is something that further isolates Zimbabwe at precisely the moment that there are vultures out there that wish to come down and strike the country.
AMY GOODMAN:    Ambassador Simbi Veke Mubako, you have the last word.
WELLINGTON CHIBEBE:    Yes, well, I appreciate Bill Fletcher's concern, but, you see, the concern of our friends here tend to be just verbal.  If there really — anyone was really concerned about the situation in Zimbabwe would now be asking what can we do to help.  I don't hear that coming from any of our friends, including Bush and Blair.  It is — they sing the same song.  They should be asking what can we do to help.  And already there are organizations which are helping, which are helping with tents, with blankets, with food and so on.  Many organizations are doing that.  They're working together with the government to assist the people in this transitional period.
AMY GOODMAN:    On that note, we're going to have to leave it there, and I want to thank you all very much for being with us.  Ambassador Simbi Veke Mubako, speaking to us from Washington, he is the Zimbabwean ambassador to the United States; Bill Fletcher, President of TransAfrica; and Wellington Chibebe, Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, speaking to us from Harare, for this unprecedented conversation.
Satellite images provide shocking evidence of the obliteration of a community
Press release, 05/31/2006
Amnesty International today released the first-ever satellite images of the wholesale destruction of a large community in Zimbabwe — providing the clearest possible evidence to date of the devastating impact of the Zimbabwean government's policy of house demolitions.
"These satellite images are irrefutable evidence — if further evidence is even needed — that the Zimbabwean government has obliterated entire communities — completely erased them from the map, as if they never existed," said Kolawole Olaniyan, Director of Amnesty International's Africa programme.
The organization commissioned the satellite images to demonstrate the complete destruction of Porta Farm — a large, informal settlement that was established 16 years ago and had schools, a children's centre and a mosque. The organization also released graphic video footage showing the forced evictions taking place prior to the demolitions.
"The images and footage are a graphic indictment of the Zimbabwean government's policies. They show the horrifying transition of an area from a vibrant community to rubble and shrubs — in the space of just ten months," said Kolawole Olaniyan.
On 27 June 2005, approximately one month after the start of Operation Murambatsvina ("Restore Order"), police officers came to Porta Farm and distributed fliers telling residents to pack up their property and leave their homes. The police told the residents they would be back the following morning, giving them less than 24 hours to comply.
Early in the morning of 28 June, a convoy of vehicles and police descended on Porta Farm. The police were heavily armed.
Residents watched helplessly as bulldozers and police officers in riot gear reduced their homes to rubble. Police officers reportedly threatened the residents, saying anyone who resisted eviction would be beaten. The destruction of Porta Farm went on all day — only ending when darkness fell. Thousands of people were forced to sleep outside in the rubble in mid-winter.
The next day, the police returned to continue with the demolitions. They also began to forcibly remove people on the back of trucks.
The Porta Farm evictions took place while the UN Special Envoy, Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, was in Zimbabwe. On 29 June members of the Special Envoy’s team visited Porta Farm and witnessed demolitions and forced removal of people in police and government trucks. The subsequent report of the UN Special Envoy describes how the team was "shocked by the brutality" of what they witnessed. Local human rights monitors reported that during the chaos several deaths occurred, including those of two children.
In May 2005 the government of Zimbabwe embarked on Operation Murambatsvina (Restore Order), a programme of mass forced evictions and the demolition of homes and informal businesses. The operation, which was carried out in winter and against a backdrop of severe food shortages, targeted poor urban and peri-urban areas countrywide.
In a critical report released on 22 July 2005 the United Nations (UN) estimated that in the space of approximately six weeks some 700,000 people lost their homes, their livelihoods, or both.
The communities affected by Operation Murambatsvina were amongst the poorest and most vulnerable in Zimbabwe. In several cases, such as Porta Farm, they had been the victims of previous forced evictions carried out by the authorities. They were given almost no notice before their homes were demolished and no alternative accommodation was provided. The government stated publicly that the evictees should go back to the rural areas.
The satellite images released by Amnesty International were analysed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, with funding from the MacArthur Foundation in the US.
Satellite image of Porta Farm, Zimbabwe, 22 June 2002.

©  Digital Globe, Inc. (2006)

Satellite image of Porta Farm, Zimbabwe, 22 June 2002
Satellite image of Porta Farm, Zimbabwe, 6 April 2006 

©  Digital Globe, Inc. (2006)

Satellite image of Porta Farm, Zimbabwe, 6 April 2006
Watch a segment of the demolition of Porta Farm
To order a copy of this footage please contact Amnesty International +44 207 413 5566.
To see a copy of the report Zimbabwe: Shattered lives - the case of Porta Farm (AI Index: AFR 46/004/2006), please go to:
© Copyright Amnesty International
A Zimbabwean woman, whose renting business in the slums was destroyed
A Zimbabwean woman, whose renting business in the slums was destroyed
Thousands of dwellings were destroyed last year
Wednesday, 30 August 2006
No help for Zimbabwe's homeless
By Peter Biles
Southern Africa correspondent, BBC News
Church leaders say that almost nothing has been done to house 700,000 people in Zimbabwe who lost their homes and livelihoods in demolitions last year.
Operation Murambatsvina, which the government said was a campaign to clean up cities, was condemned by the UN.
The Solidarity Peace Trust, a church- based group, says the whole exercise has further impoverished many Zimbabweans.
A report says the situation remains dire 15 months later.
Out of more than 100,000 displaced people in the west of the country, not one person has been officially housed by the government, according to the Solidarity Peace Trust, which is co-chaired by the Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube.
International donor organisations have fared little better in providing shelter, the report says. Only 800 temporary dwellings have been built nationwide, and all of these are around the capital, Harare.
In some houses, people now co-exist in around one square metre per person of floor space
Solidarity Peace Trust
One victim quoted by the report accuses the authorities of leaving people to live like animals in the open air: "If government had done this and then said 'go stay over there', it would have been better, instead of destroying everything and leaving us like animals."
"It's like when you pull down a cattle kraal (pen), first you build another one. You put the cattle in the new kraal and then you destroy the old one."
Archbishop Ncube told the BBC that the government had failed to live up to its promises:
"They themselves said that they would construct 300,000 houses. They've constructed a few hundred houses and none of them have been occupied."
Traders hit
Man cooking on a fire
The evictions left hundreds of thousands of people homeless
Operation Murambatsvina began with an assault on informal traders.
A year later, the informal sector - which accounts for 80% of the economy - is said to be in disarray.
Vendors and their families are sliding into even greater poverty, and legal trading sites need to be rebuilt urgently.
Although people in Zimbabwe's cities were forcibly moved and often dumped by the police in the countryside last year, 75% of those families are now reported to be back in the urban areas.
"In some houses, people now co-exist in around one square metre per person of floor space," the report says.
"Married couples are forced to sleep apart, unmarried adults are forced to share space, and single people live continually on the move, from one tiny house to another. "Children are exposed to sex-for-money activities, and face schooling difficulties from overcrowding and poverty."
Mopane worms and Mealies

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