Wednesday, August 26, 2009

UN Expert on Human Rights and Extreme Poverty to visit Zambia

GENEVA -- The United Nations Independent Expert on human rights and extreme poverty, Magdalena Sepúlveda, will visit Zambia from 20 to 28 August 2009 at the invitation of the Government.

"I want to collect first-hand information on the situation of people living in extreme poverty," said Ms Sepúlveda. "Zambia has been implementing a variety of social protection programmes which are essential for any State wishing to reduce the incidence of extreme poverty, and I want to analyse them from a human rights perspective"

Ms Sepúlveda is the first UN human rights expert to visit Zambia. "Visits like this one are important because UN experts can raise the attention of the international community on what causes human rights violations", said Ms Sepúlveda. "Everything, from the global economic crisis to droughts and rains, can have an impact on the life of people living in poverty and on how they enjoy their rights."

The Independent Expert will hold meetings with senior Government officials including the Vice President, the Minister of Justice and representatives from the Ministry of Community Development & Social Services. She will also meet UN representatives, the donor community and non governmental organizations.

During her mission, Ms Sepúlveda will visit communities living in extreme poverty in Lusaka, Chipata, Katete and Chirundu.

Based on the information collected during the visit, the Expert will prepare a report and make recommendations on strengthening social protection programmes using a human rights perspective. This report will be presented at the UN Human Rights Council in 2010.

Magdalena Sepúlveda is the Independent Expert on the question of human rights and extreme poverty since May 2008. She is a Chilean lawyer currently working as Research Director at the International Council on Human Rights Policy in Geneva.

A press conference will be held on Friday 28 August 2009 at 11.30 at the U.N. House in Lusaka.


Press Release

UN receives less than half of promised Zimbabwe aid

HARARE — Donors have so far promised less than half of the 718 million dollars (509 million euros) in aid needed to stave off hunger and disease in Zimbabwe, the United Nations said Wednesday.

"Although Zimbabwe is not facing armed conflict, humanitarian threats such as food shortages and the outbreak of diseases such as cholera pose a significant challenge," UN humanitarian coordinator in Zimbabwe, Augustino Zacarias said.

"Sadly, only 44 percent of Zimbabwe's appeal of 718 million had been raised by the end of July."

The United Nations says that six million people have little or no access to safe water and sanitation, which helped spark a devastating cholera epidemic that infected nearly 99,000 people and killed 4,288 over the last year.

An estimated 2.8 million Zimbabweans need food aid, while 1.5 million children require support to access education. The nation's problems are worsened by the high incidence of HIV, which infects 15.6 percent of adults.

Zimbabwe has suffered chronic food shortages since President Robert Mugabe began chaotic land reforms nine years ago, but the crisis worsened dramatically in August last year as a nationwide cholera outbreak erupted.

Zacarias said improved cooperation between Harare and UN agencies has resulted in better access to the neediest people and improved coordination.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai joined his long-time rival Mugabe to form a unity government in February, but has struggled to win donor support to revive an economy shattered by nearly a decade of hyperinflation.

Western countries have so far proved reluctant to give aid directly to the government, demanding that Mugabe undertake more reforms to respect human rights and media freedoms, while curbing politically motivated attacks.

Copyright © 2009 AFP. All rights reserved

Monday, August 24, 2009

Zim diamonds will not be banned despite human rights abuses

By Alex Bell
21 August 2009

Zimbabwe will not face suspension from the international diamond regulatory body, the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), despite the ongoing human rights abuses at the Chiadzwa diamond fields.

The regulatory body’s chairman, Namibian Mines Minister Bernhard Esau, told a press conference in Harare on Wednesday that calls by the group’s members to suspend Zimbabwe over human rights abuses will not be taken seriously. Esau, who is in Zimbabwe until Saturday to conduct yet another review of the country’s complicity with international diamond trade standards, told journalists that there had been recommendations made about ‘voluntary suspension’, but no consensus had been reached on the matter.

“Yes there are members of the Kimberly process trying to convince other members to suspend Zimbabwe but we will not entertain such (calls),” said Esau.

A recent KPCS delegation that was in Zimbabwe to investigate widespread reports of abuse and even killings in Chiadzwa, recommended in an unpublished, but leaked interim report, that the country be suspended. The team that was headed by Liberian deputy mines minister Kpandel Faiya issued the apparently damning report at the end of its visit calling for a temporary ban on trade in diamonds from Zimbabwe, until effective security and internal control measures and resources were in place. The delegation also urged the government to demilitarise the diamond fields, a call that has been wholly ignored.

Zimbabwe Mines Minister Obert Mpofu instead told Wednesday’s press conference that the government is ensuring total compliance with the recommendations made by the Kimberly team in its interim report.

In an apparent effort to convince the KPCS to issue a fresh report, absolving the country of any wrongdoings, the regulatory body’s head was given a tour of the still militarized diamond fields on Thursday. Esau and his team also visited the home of Newman Chiadzwa, whose homestead was reportedly destroyed by soldiers who ransacked his home some few weeks ago. Newman, who was reportedly a key witness to last month’s KPCS team about abuse at the diamond fields, has been in hiding because of increased harassment by police and the military. He has since been arrested on charges of diamond smuggling.

Deputy Mines Minister Murisi Zwizwai, who has previously denied any killings took place in Chiadzwa, told ZimOnline news service on Thursday that the Mines Ministry has showed the KPCS delegation Newman’s home and confiscated property “to clear the air in respect of his harassment.”

MDC petitions AG’s office over murders

By Violet Gonda
August 21 2009

The MDC says hundreds of its supporters were killed in recent years, with at least 500 supporters murdered by Zanu PF and State security agents last year alone. The culprits or perpetrators of violence have never been brought to justice. The party accuses the State of applying the law selectively and only targeting the MDC. Additionally many thousands have been badly tortured, hundreds of thousands have been internally displaced, and there is ongoing harassment and arrest of numerous MDC legislators.

On Thursday the party wrote a letter to the Attorney-General’s office, asking him to urgently deal with the murder cases. They said there is nothing to suggest there have been any investigations, even though most of the cases have been reported to the police. The MDC says under the country’s laws the Attorney General has the power to order the Police Commissioner-General to investigate and report to the AG’s office on any matter which relates to suspected criminal offence.

The MDC Security Director, Chris Dhlamini, is himself a victim of ZANU PF sponsored brutality, and he said: “Reports in some cases were made to the local ZRP stations but the report references were not given to the informants. The police have not gone back to the informants or relatives to inform them of the levels of achievements in their efforts to deal with the said matters in accordance to the law.”

It is reported that many of the deceased were buried without having undergone post mortem examinations to determine the cause of their deaths.
Dhlamini said: “No death certificates are in place in cases where post mortem examinations were not carried out, a matter which has created problems for the relatives of some of the deceased, especially where the deceased left behind children with no birth certificates and in some cases debts.”

The Director of Security copied the letter to SADC, JOMIC, the Public Protector and the Ministers of National Healing and Reconciliation.
Analysts believe a full investigation into these matters is the only way to shape the form and content of the national healing and reconciliation process, which the government and the MDC are supposedly participating in.

Political commentator Glen Mpani said the inclusive government has ‘enabled and legitimised the perpetrators of some of these heinous crimes’. But he added that if a process was to take place to hold those responsible accountable, it may just scuttle the global political agreement. However he pointed out that it is important to record cases of violations, regardless of the fact that there is a lot of scepticism on how justice can be discharged in the current political context.

SW Radio Africa

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Catholic journal warns of possible more draconian Zimbabwe laws

Harare, 18 August (ENI)--A Roman Catholic journal has warned that a new constitution proposed for Zimbabwe could be worse than the current one if politicians lead the process to craft the document and civil society is left out.

"The working premise is that the constitution should be of the people, written by the people and for the people, and without the participation of the people at all levels and with the control of the government, we risk having a more draconian constitution than ever before," the Catholic Church News said in an editorial in its August-September issue.

"The people should not only be involved on the constitution-making process but they should own both the process and the outcome. The government should not waste resources purporting to consult the people on the constitution they want and later manipulate the people's views and opinions," The journal stated

Zimbabwe's new power-sharing government launched a campaign in July to gather contributions for a new constitution that aim to pave the way for new elections in 2011. But some civil society groups which have assembled under the umbrella of the National Constitutional Assembly have refused to be part of the process led by the government.

"Some civil society organizations and churches have objected to a process led by politicians because it will be premised on protecting the interests of those who rule while alienating the interests of those who matter, the constituents," the Catholic publication noted.

The current constitution has been tinkered with several times at the behest of veteran President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party which won elections from 1980 until it lost the parliamentary vote in an election in 2008 and Mugabe lost the first round of the presidential poll. He won the run-off election after his opponent withdrew, citing widespread intimidation.

The Students Christian Movement of Zimbabwe in the meantime has criticised the country's attorney-general over what they view as a biased handling of cases involving members of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change party. "To date more than eight MDC legislators have either been convicted or are facing trial for various unfounded and fabricated allegations being peddled by Zanu-PF machinists," the students' statement said.

"If the so-called attorney-general is so eager to play his duty why then was he silent and is still silent on Zanu-PF perpetrators of violence in the run-up to last year's June 27 presidential run-off," the students group said. "There were a number of cases of people who were hurt, killed, displaced and some raped and yet to date nothing has been done to effect the arrest of the perpetrators who are mostly Zanu-PF."

The statement followed a series of arrests of lawmakers and office bearers from Tsvangirai's MDC party, which is part of a government of national unity with Mugabe's party. Those arrested include the deputy minister for youth Thamsanqa Mahlangu who was detained after being accused of stealing a mobile phone belonging to a leader of a war veterans' association renowned for backing Mugabe's policies. [510 words]

Ecumenical News International

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Thursday, August 13, 2009


12 August 2009
Johannesburg, South Africa

The Zimbabwe Blood Diamonds Campaign (ZBDC) today added its voice to the
call for Zimbabwe's suspension from the Kimberley Process Certification
Scheme (KPCS).

Last month, the KPCS in a report produced after an on-site visit to Zimbabwe
recommended a six-month suspension of Zimbabwe from the sale of rough
diamonds until security, control and accountability systems are put in place
by the Zimbabwean government. On 9 August, Finance Minister Tendai Biti admitted that control processes were not effective when he observed that the looting of diamonds in Chiadzwa
was "an embarrassment and a mess". However, Zimbabwe's Mines Minister Obert Mpofu has opposed a ban, arguing that Zimbabwe's economy, which needs a resuscitation package of about US$8.3 billion, will be adversely affected.

ZBDC co-coordinator and human rights lawyer Gabriel Shumba dismisses this
fear as unfounded, since no evidence has been produced so show how the
"Marange" diamonds have contributed to the national fiscus. The call is not for a permanent embargo, but a limited one that seeks to among other things the demilitarization of the diamond fields, an end to human rights violations and the immediate halting of the illegal trade.

Commenting on the KPCS report, Mr Shumba observed: "ZBDC is relieved that
its lobbying and advocacy efforts with the KPCS have paid off. In particular
we are encouraged by the fact that the KPCS was able to confirm that rampant
human rights violations are taking place in Chiadzwa."

"We can confirm that over 300 people have died and hundreds of others have
been maimed by government security forces that are in the area allegedly to
stem illegal mining, but are in fact illegally extracting the diamonds
themselves," he said.

"Women have been raped, and children maimed. There is very little doubt that
Chiadzwa diamonds are tainted with the blood of Zimbabweans. ZBDC has
incontestable proof of these violations," he confirmed.

Although President Robert Mugabe denied army atrocities in Chiadzwa
yesterday, the allegations by the ZBDC were echoed by Wilfred Mhanda, a
liberation war hero with the Zimbabwe Liberators' Platform.

On Defence Forces Day yesterday, Mr Mhanda* accused the army of spearheading
the campaign of violence in Chiadzwa, Marange.


Submitted by / for further information:

Gabriel Shumba

Co-coordinator Zimbabwe Blood Diamonds Campaign

Human Rights Lawyer

Cell: +27 72 639 3795 or

Tel: +27 12 639 3795. (012) 322 6969

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Alert: Documentary on Prison Conditions in Zimbabwe on Swiss TV

Dear Friends,
Tonight, Wednesday. 12 August, at 20.50hrs Swiss-German TV station, SF1, will be airing a documentary on the plight of prisoners in Zimbabwe since the interventions of local and international humanitarian organisations.
To watch online see the link below

Zimbabwe Advocacy Office

Thursday, August 6, 2009

ZimHealth_Important announcement for your diary

ENGLISH VERSION (version française ci-dessous)

Dear Friends,

As you may know, Zimbabwe is trying to recover from a serious humanitarian crisis. One of the major aspects of this crisis has been the collapse of the public health care delivery system. This continues to have severe health consequences on ordinary Zimbabweans.

The Zimbabwe Network for Health (ZimHealth) seeks to raise funds to procure and distribute medicines, diagnostics, vaccines and other commodities, in an effort to contribute to the rehabilitation of the health facilities in Zimbabwe.

Over the past six months, ZimHealth has already sent out material to Mbare Polyclinic in Harare, which caters primarily for low income urban and rural women and children. A recent generous donation from the City of Geneva will allow us to send a further consignment. But there are many other Hospitals and Clinics that urgently need material help in order to continue providing the medical services that are so desperately needed by the population of Zimbabwe.

ZimHeath intends to hold a fundraising social event and a presentation of its activities on

Saturday 3rd October, in the afternoon and evening, in Geneva.

The venue and details will be communicated at the beginning of September. Please book this date for this very important event, and feel free to transmit it too all persons who might feel concerned.

Further details at:

If you are unable to attend, any contributions would be very welcome. Our bank details:

Account Name: ZimHealth ( Zimbabwe Network for Health )
Account No 295834.40E (Please note full stop between 4 and 4)
Bank: UBS SA, Geneva-O.M.S 0279/86
IBAN: CH900027927929583440E



Chers amis,

Comme vous le savez peut-être déjà, le Zimbabwe tente de se remettre d'une crise humanitaire grave. Un des aspects majeurs de cette crise a été l'effondrement du système de santé publique. L'impact sur la santé des zimbabwéens ordinaires a été et continue d'être très grave.

ZimHealth (réseau zimbabwéen pour l'accès à la santé) cherche à récolter des fonds servant à procurer des médicaments, vaccins et autres matériels afin de contribuer à la reconstruction des infrastructures médicales du Zimbabwe.

Ces six derniers mois, ZimHealth a pu envoyer un premier lot de matériel à la Polyclinique de Mbare à Harare, qui dessert surtout des femmes et enfants aux revenus modestes de la zone urbaine. Un récent don généreux de la Ville de Genève permettra un envoi supplémentaire. Mais il y existe bien d'autres Hôpitaux et Cliniques qui nécessitent un soutien matériel urgent afin de continuer à fournir les services médicaux dont la population zimbabwéenne a tant besoin.

ZimHealth compte tenir une collecte de fonds ainsi qu'une présentation de ses activités le

samedi 3 octobre, durant l'après-midi et la soirée, à Genève

Le lieu et les détails suivront au début du mois de Septembre. Entre-temps, nous vous encourageons de bien vouloir réserver cette date importante et de transmettre ce message à toute personne qui pourrait se sentir concerné.

D'autres détails sur nos activités sont disponibles sur note site Internet:

Si vous ne pouvez pas venir, toute contribution serait la bienvenue! Les détails de notre compte sont:

Titulaire du comte: ZimHealth ( Zimbabwe Network for Health )
Numéro de compte: 295834.40E (Notez le point entre le 4 et le 4)
Banque: UBS SA, Genève-O.M.S 0279/86
IBAN: CH900027927929583440E

Zimbabwe's glimmer of hope for press freedom

Some Zimbabwean journalists say 2003 was the most repressive year for independent journalists. Others claim it was 2008. But no one is yet claiming it was 2009 after a recent series of positive developments for the country's media.

Last week, the government lifted a ban on the BBC and CNN, a big improvement over last year--when BBC reporters were forced to sneak into Zimbabwe to report on the runoff elections, and two media workers contracted by CNN were thrown in jail for more than a week.

"Journalists continue to be followed, detained and abducted; phones and e-mail messages are intercepted; the output of news from government reminds one of Radio Moscow during the Soviet era," Geoff Hill, exiled Zimbabwean journalist and author of What Happens after Mugabe?, told CPJ. "Nevertheless, compared with a year ago, things are better."

On August 1, Finance Minister Tendai Biti scrapped the punitive "luxury import tax" that had severely crippled The Zimbabwean and The Zimbabwean on Sunday, which were being shipped into Zimbabwe via South Africa. Exiled Editor Wilf Mbanga wrote that the 70 percent luxury import tax forced them to pay over R3 million rand (US$379,747) for the "luxury" of giving Zimbabwe access to information outside state propaganda. Mbanga told CPJ that the recent press freedom developments are "glimmers of hope at the end of very long, dark tunnel."

In 2003, the government's accreditation law, the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, helped shutter the popular independent Daily News. On September 11 of that year, Zimbabwe's Supreme Court declared the Daily News was violating the act's provisions and was required to register with the former Media and Information Commission (MIC). The paper's publishing license was revoked and the paper's prominent editor and former CPJ award winner, Geoffrey Nyarota, was forced to flee the country.

Nyarota continued his trade with the online Zimbabwe Times in exile; hoping to return one day. Although far from certain, there is a chance that day may come. On Friday, the government notified lawyers for The Daily News that their application for a license to publish had been approved after years of legal wrangling.

But the champagne should remain corked for now. "We have now gained eligibility of the license but not the license itself," Nyarota told CPJ. The paper's license will only be reinstated once a new media monitoring body is set up. The MIC was abolished in January 2008. Interviews to create the new monitoring body, the Zimbabwe Media Commission, took place this week but hit a snag amid reports that they were biased toward ruling-party supporters.

Zimbabwean journalists, encouraged by small improvements in the media environment, are taking this moment to fight back against past injustices.

Police snatched up freelance journalist Andrison Manyere and former journalist Jestina Mukoko last December on spurious banditry charges. Both were detained and beaten in custody for more than 90 days, they said. "I think if people commit crimes, which I did not, they should not be treated the way I was treated," said Mukoko during one of her court sessions. Mukoko launched a Supreme Court challenge in June claiming an infringement of her constitutional rights to liberty, full protection of the law, and freedom from torture. Manyere filed a lawsuit against the state for damages in July.

They are not the only ones. Four independent journalists won a landmark legal case against the government over the legality of the MIC in June. The commission had previously banned the journalists from attending a regional economic summit for not being accredited by the commission. The journalists, through their lawyer, Selby Hwacha, successfully argued that the MIC was abolished in January and had no power to block them. The journalists, however, were still barred entry by security at the summit.

Cautious optimism captures the mood for most journalists reporting on Zimbabwe, both local and in exile. Freelance journalist Columbus Mavhunga put it this way: "When you see a leopard kneeling down you have to remain cautious. It must be just resting to come with vengeance. It must be feeling cornered and is planning new tactics."

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Zimbabwe Inclusive Government Watch : Issue 7

The waves of democratic turmoil washed over from June to July with scores of breaches of the GPA being recorded, the majority of which fell into the following categories:
  • wanton politically motivated violence, or violence driven by politicians,
  • harassment, and deprivation of freedom, of individuals through contrived arrests on spurious charges,
  • widespread corruption involving senior public and uniformed figures,
  • the deprivation of the right to Freedom of Expression, and the abuse thereof,
  • violent, unconstitutional, invasions and seizures of property and farms, and
  • deliberate attempts to derail the Constitution-making process.

The month began with a group of journalists returning to court in an effort to make former High Court rulings ‘legally binding’ – calling attention to ZANU PF breaches of GPA articles covering both the rule of law and freedom of expression. The journalists had been barred from covering the COMESA summit on the grounds that they were not accredited by the Media and Information Commission (MIC). This was despite a High Court ruling in June that made it clear that the MIC was defunct, and that journalists were not required to register with it.