|(HARARE, Zimbabwe) — Zimbabwean police say they arrested six men accused of killing 41 elephants with cyanide. State media reported Friday that police official Muyambirwa Muzzah said rangers followed the tracks in the southwestern Hwange National Park that led to several elephant carcasses. Muzzah said a cache of tusks, worth $120,000 on the illegal ivory market, and other remains were found near water holes that had been laced with cyanide. He said the six were arrested when they returned to collect the ivory and they are suspected of operating from the western city of Bulawayo. The police official said hundreds of wild animals feeding on the dead elephants could also die from poisoning. The Bulawayo Chronicle newspaper reported Friday that poachers arrested in May for poisoning wildlife were jailed for two years.|
By Imraan Buccus
People’s power has arrived in Africa and, as some have recently argued, it’s not just Africa north of the Sahara in which the democratic spirit is stirring. The thrilling political earthquake that began in Tunisia, exploded into Egypt and then rippled out to Libya is set to leave lasting changes in its wake. Its too early to say exactly what those changes will be but one thing is for sure – this is the greatest moment in the global struggle for human freedom since 1989 when the Soviet Union and its dominions across Eastern Europe fell.
When the protest spread from Tunis to Cairo they began as a carnival of freedom. Men and women, Muslims, Christians and secular people, old and young and rich and poor were all united in their excited opposition to dictatorships. It was a beautiful moment which the philosopher Nigel Gibson has likened to the Paris Commune of 1871.
In Tripoli the North African revolution is taking the form of pitched battles against a ruthless and psychopathic dictator. Here there is courage aplenty but no carnival. Irrespective of the ultimate fate of the Libyan Revolution a loud and clear message has been sent to dictators around the world. That message is that while it is possible to oppress a people for a long time, even generations, the people will reach a point at which they decide to rise.
The time will come when the will of the people will be expressed. In our own neighbourhood Mugabe and Mswati must be watching the revolutions raging across the North of the continent with considerable anxiety. Neither ZANU-PF nor the Swazi monarchy will run their brutal dictatorships for ever and while the rest of us thrill to the winds of change blowing down from North Africa that wind must be chilling to the tyrants in Harare and Mbabane.
Mugabe seems to be especially anxious. Gadaffi has been one of his biggest backers and has used his oil money to turn the African Union (AU) into a new version of the old Organisation for African Unity (OAU), which was rightly disparaged as a dictator’s club. Zimbabwean state television has, liked Chinese state television, steadfastly ignored the revolutions in North Africa. And when the International Socialist Organisation, a courageous but tiny Trotskyite organisation, arranged a meeting at which people could watch some footage of the protests in Cairo Mugabe promptly had all 46 people arrested and charged with treason. This has been followed up by axe wielding mobs attacking MDC meetings. Paranoia is a sign of weakness and this paranoia is even ridiculous by Mugabe’s own standards. He must know that the thread by which his authority hangs could snap at any minute.
Mugabe successfully stole elections in Zimbabwe in 2000, 2002 and 2005. Each time he was assisted with the complicity of various forces in and outside of his country. In South Africa there are factions who remain solidly pro-Mugabe but generally political parties, trade unions, poor people’s movements and civil society are united in their opposition to the Mugabe dictatorship.
When we think of Zimbabwe, in the context of the North African revolutions, we are confronted by three urgent questions.
The first is how we offer solidarity to the Zimbabwean refugees in our country. The periodic attacks on Zimbabweans by ordinary people and the ongoing and harassment of Zimbabwean refugees by our police needs to be urgently opposed. We need to recall the solidarity shown to South African exiles in other African countries and demonstrate basic human decency. Change can come to Zimbabwe soon, and in the potentially uneasy days of a difficult transition from dictatorship, SA will need to offer immense support to Zimbabwean refugees.
The second question that we need to consider is the nature of the flaw in some of our leaders that has allowed them to become complicit with tyranny. The struggle against apartheid was supported by governments, ordinary people and civil society around the world. One would have thought that we would have taken a similarly activist position towards tyranny in other countries. But instead some in SA some have taken the same position towards tyranny in Zimbabwe that Ronald Regan and Margaret Thatcher took towards apartheid – “constructive engagement” or, in Mbeki’s outdated spin, “quiet diplomacy.”
The third question we must ponder is the question of what went wrong in Zimbabwe. The argument that Mugabe was a good leader who went rotten holds no water. Revisionist Zimbabwean historians have pointed to ruthless abuses during the liberation struggle. And of course we cannot forget Operation Gukurahundi, the ethnic cleansing of the Ndebele in Matabeleland in the early 1980s which cost more than 20 000 lives. This crime against humanity is enough, on its own, to ensure that Mugabe should be called to account for his crimes before the International Criminal Court in The Hague. It is clear that the political culture of Zanu-PF was authoritarian and rapacious long before the fiasco of recent years. Zimbabwe has been governed by ruthless and predatory elite from the beginning. The seeds of the later crimes, the plunder of the Congo, the attacks on shack dwellers and street traders and the ruthless suppression of internal opposition, were planted early on.
What this means is that it is essential to think holistically. Just because a man and a movement opposed one form of tyranny does not mean that they are opposed to tyranny. There is a tremendous difference between using democracy to come to power and being democratic. A democrat is not defined as a person who came to power by democracy. A democrat is defined as a person who, when in power, welcomes debate and dissent. By this definition it is clear that Zimbabwe has never been a democracy.
We should be proud that our Constitution commits our government to welcome dissent and to be aware that in a democracy we need to always protect this. Any signs of Zanufication in any part of our society are a challenge we must all take up. So, as South Africans, when we think of Zimbabwe in the context of what is happening in North Africa, we need to also reflect on the important role that South Africa needs to play in promoting democratic transformation in Zimbabwe.
We are, no doubt, appropriately reminded by the Zimbabwean media entrepreneur, Trevor Ngube, that Tunisia, Egypt and Libya have restored the collective faith in peoples’ power. The clear signs that Zanu PF has been shaken by the North African revolutions show up that the regime in Harare is not all powerful and that it will go the same way as the dictatorships in North Africa. It is a question of ‘when’ and not ‘if’.
Buccus is attached to the School of Politics at UKZN and the Democracy Development Program.
Source of the article: The South African Civil Society Information Service (www.sacsis.org.za)
Kimberley Process / Suspend Zimbabwe / Diamond Monitoring Body Should Demand an End to Forced Labor, Smuggling, and Corruption
JOHANNESBURG, South-Africa, October 29, 2009/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, scheduled to meet in Swakopmund, Namibia, from November 2 to 5, 2009, should immediately suspend Zimbabwe for continuing human rights abuses and widespread smuggling in the Marange diamond fields, Human Rights Watch said today. The government of Zimbabwe has not complied with any of the recommendations put forward in July by a review mission of the group, an international body that governs the global diamond industry.
Human Rights Watch researchers carried out follow-up investigations from October 12 to 23, establishing that elements of the Zimbabwean Defence Forces have consolidated their presence in the diamond fields and that they are abusing members of the local community and engaging in widespread diamond smuggling. On June 26, Human Rights Watch published “Diamonds in the Rough,” a detailed report on human rights violations associated with illicit diamond mining at Marange.
“Zimbabwe has had more than enough time to put a halt to the human rights abuses and smuggling at Marange,” said Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Instead, it has sent more troops to the area, apparently trying to put a halt to independent access and scrutiny.”
In their latest investigation in Zimbabwe, Human Rights Watch researchers were able to interview 23 people directly linked to the Marange diamond fields and to confirm the following abuses, which put Zimbabwe in violation of the minimum standards required for membership in the Kimberley Process:
The Zimbabwean army uses syndicates of local miners to extract diamonds, often using forced labor, including children.
On September 17, a soldier shot and killed a 19-year-old member of one syndicate. The soldier stated, in the presence of witnesses, that he had shot the man for hiding a raw diamond instead of handing it over to the soldier.
Local miners provided information that soldiers have begun to recruit people from outside Marange to join army-run diamond mining syndicates.
Smuggling of Marange diamonds has intensified. Scores of buyers and middlemen openly trade in Marange diamonds in the small Mozambique town of Vila de Manica, 20 miles from Mutare. The smugglers include people from Lebanon, Belgium, South Africa, and India, who circulate Marange’s diamonds onto the international market.
The ownership of the Marange diamond fields is in dispute. The mines minister, the police commissioner, and the government-owned company, Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC), have all failed to comply with a High Court order issued by Judge Charles Hungwe on September 28, to restore prospecting and diamond mining rights in the diamond fields to the previous owner, African Consolidated Resources (Private) Limited (ACR).
The judge also directed ZMDC to cease prospecting and diamond-mining activities in the area that the court says belongs to ACR, a private company. Although the High Court ordered the police to cease interfering with ACR’s prospecting and mining activities, both the police and the army continue to bar it from access to the diamond fields. Zimbabwe’s minister of mines has appealed the High Court Order, and ZMDC continues to carry out prospecting and mining operations at Marange.
On October 6, to comply with a demand by Kimberley Process members, President Robert Mugabe announced that the government had selected two new private-sector investors to take over mining in Marange. However, the process of selection has been shrouded in secrecy and the investors’ identities remain unknown. The Kimberley Process rules require participants to ensure that all diamond mines are licensed and that only licensed mines extract diamonds.
In its June 26 report, Human Rights Watch documented how Zimbabwe’s army, which remains under the control of Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), the former ruling party, had committed horrific abuses against miners and local residents, including killings, beatings, and torture. The report also revealed the army’s policy of rotating military units into the diamond fields for roughly two-month periods. This policy was designed to maintain the loyalty of senior military and other officials to ZANU-PF by giving them illicit access to Zimbabwe’s mineral wealth at a time of national economic and political crisis. Human Rights Watch found new evidence of rotation of army units into Marange. At the beginning of October, the Harare-based special mechanized brigade was deployed, replacing the Kwekwe-based fifth brigade.
The Kimberley Process sent a review mission to Marange in late June to assess Zimbabwe’s compliance with the organization’s standards, which require diamonds to be lawfully mined, documented, and exported by participant countries. On July 4, local and international media reported that the review mission had found Zimbabwe to be in violation of these standards. The media reports said that the review mission urged the government to take corrective action by July 20 or face suspension.
The government of Zimbabwe has since ignored the apparent calls by the review mission to remove military units from Marange, end human rights violations and smuggling, and hold accountable those responsible for abuses.
“Recommendations for Zimbabwe to withdraw from Kimberley voluntarily or for Kimberley to provide technical and other assistance without full suspension will not be effective.” Gagnon said. “Zimbabwe has already reneged on a commitment to withdraw the army from Marange. Clearly it will only be moved to make changes under the full force of suspension.”
Human Rights Watch urges the Kimberley member states at their plenary session in Swakopmund to suspend Zimbabwe immediately from exporting diamonds and from participation in the Kimberley Process until it fully complies with the following:
Immediately end all human rights abuses in the Marange diamond fields, including killings, beatings, forced labor, child labor, and torture.
Remove the army from Marange district, and demilitarize and depoliticize Zimbabwe’s diamond industry.
Restore security responsibilities in Marange to the police, but ensure that they abide by accepted international law enforcement standards and respect the rule of law.
Open an impartial and independent investigation into alleged human rights abuses linked to the illicit extraction of Marange diamonds, their smuggling, and the associated culture of official corruption.
Hold accountable all civilians, soldiers and police implicated in these abuses, irrespective of seniority.
Urgently resolve the outstanding legal questions of control and title to the Marange diamond fields in compliance with the relevant High Court Order. Lack of clarity around control and title has fostered an environment conducive to corruption and smuggling.
Ensure that, in the event that relocation of the community around the diamond fields is found to be necessary, the relocation fully complies with national and international human rights standards.
Human Rights Watch believes that the suspension of Zimbabwe and a ban on Marange diamonds are critical to the credibility of the Kimberley Process and the diamond industry. The Kimberly Process, established to end the trade of “conflict diamonds,” should fulfill its commitment to consumers that the stones they purchase have not been mined in situations of grave human rights abuse. In this context, Human Rights Watch again calls on the Kimberley Process to set up a local monitoring mechanism comprising independent local civil society organizations and Marange community leaders, who could freely monitor and verify the Zimbabwe government’s compliance with the Kimberley Process review mission’s recommendations.
Key Kimberley Process Members
The final decision on the suspension of Zimbabwe rests with Kimberley Process members, who work on the basis of consensus. When consensus is impossible to reach, the chair, Namibia, is mandated to carry out consultations. To reach consensus, it is essential for the following key countries to support fully the suspension of Zimbabwe:
Namibia: As current chair of the Kimberley Process, Namibia presides over all plenary proceedings and, in the event that consensus cannot be reached, is mandated to conduct consultations on the way forward. Namibia is also a major regional diamond producer, and its ruling party, SWAPO, has long had close links with Zimbabwe’s ZANU-PF.
India: Some of the world’s largest rough diamond cutting and polishing centers are found in India. India chairs the Kimberley committee on participation, which is responsible for making recommendations regarding Zimbabwe’s future participation. Human Rights Watch investigations found that raw Marange diamonds are being channeled to India for polishing. This raises the risk that Marange diamonds could taint the reputation of India’s domestic industry if no action is taken.
South Africa: Human Rights Watch investigations found that South Africa is one of the main destinations of Marange diamonds, and that they are also smuggled there via Mozambique. Along with the region’s other main diamond producers, Botswana and Namibia, South Africa will find its market reputation undermined if it blocks Kimberley action on Zimbabwe and permits the continued entry of Marange diamonds.
Belgium: Home to a huge diamond sorting and polishing industry, Belgium is another notable destination for raw Marange diamonds. Belgium’s position within the organization is likely to have great influence on the rest of the European Union. Its reputation could suffer if it continues to handle tainted Zimbabwe stones.
Israel: As the next chair of the Kimberley Process, taking over from Namibia in November, Israel will face scrutiny for its position on Zimbabwe’s suspension at the November meeting.
To read the Human Rights Watch report, “Diamonds in the Rough: Human Rights Abuses in the Marange Diamond Fields of Zimbabwe,” please visit: http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2009/06/26/diamonds-rough-0
For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Zimbabwe, please visit:
For more information, please contact:
In Johannesburg, Tiseke Kasambala (English): +27-79-2205-254 (mobile)
In Johannesburg, Sipho Mthathi (English): +27-11-484-2640
In Washington, DC, Jon Elliott (English, French): +1-202-612-4348; or +1-917-379-0713 (mobile)
In New York, Georgette Gagnon (English): +1-212-216-1223; or +1-917-535-0375 (mobile)
In Mumbai, Meenakshi Ganguly (English): +91-98-200-36032
In Brussels, Reed Brody (English, French, Portugese, Spanish): +32-2-737-1489
Human Right Watch (HRW)
Nestlé gives AfriForum undertaking that it (Nestlé) will no longer buy milk from Mugabe
PRETORIA, South Africa, October 2, 2009/African Press Organization (APO)/ — AfriForum Media Statement
During a meeting in Randburg (South Africa) this evening, the Managing Director of Nestlé in Southern Africa, Sullivan O’Carrol, gave the South African civil rights initiative, AfriForum, its assurance that from 4 October 2009, Nestlé will no longer buy any milk from Grace Mugabe – wife of the Zimbabwean dictator, Robert Mugabe.
This undertaking follows after AfriForum had launched an international campaign called http://www.nestlebloodmilk.com yesterday, to encourage people to boycott all Nestlé products unless Nestlé were to decide before the 7th of October 2009 to stop buying milk from Mugabe. In the light of Nestlé’s undertaking, Kallie Kriel, CEO of AfriForum, undertook on behalf of AfriForum not to go ahead with the planned boycott.
Kriel welcomed Nestlé’s decision and described this turn of events as a victory for justice. According to Kriel, the victory has been made possible by the fact that thousands of people from all over the world have been prepared to send letters to Nestlé via the website http://www.nestlebloodmilk.com to express their dismay at Nestlé’s decision to buy milk from Mugabe. “This event proves that ordinary people can use their power as consumers to ensure that justice will prevail,” Kriel added. He expressed sincere gratitude towards all who supported the http://www.nestlebloodmilk.com campaign.
According to Kriel, AfriForum will continue with efforts to make certain that unceasing pressure is brought to bear on the Mugabe regime to ensure that human rights violations in Zimbabwe are brought to an end.
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