Thursday, October 1, 2009

News and pics from Zimbabwe.....01/10/09

Zimbabwe human rights activist Jestina Mukoko at a news conference in Harare, Thursday Oct. 1, 2009. The lawyer for a prominent Zimbabwean human rights activist Jestina Mukoko and eight others says they are suing the government for US$500 million after their terror charges were dropped. Harrison Nkomo said Thursday that he is suing several officials for the abduction, wrongful arrest and torture of Jestina Mukoko and the others. The case targets the national police commissioner, intelligence minister and several police officers.

Zimbabwe activists sue state for $500 million

HARARE, Zimbabwe — A prominent Zimbabwean human rights activist and eight others are suing the government for $500 million after terror charges against them were dropped because they had been beaten and tortured, their lawyer said Thursday.

Harrison Nkomo, a lawyer for activist Jestina Mukoko, said the national police commissioner, intelligence minister and several police officers were among those being sued for the abduction, wrongful arrest and torture of Mukoko and the others.

Mukoko is seeking $250 million of that settlement, he said, adding that the rest would be split between the other activists.

The country's Supreme Court granted the activists a permanent stay of prosecution Monday because their constitutional rights had been violated.


SA firm regrets doing business with Mugabe

The Pinetown-based company that sold state-of-the-art dairy equipment to Grace Mugabe for her farm, did not know they were doing business with the wife of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and regrets the deal.

Grace Mugabe established a dairy farm, Gushungo Dairy Estate, on one of the six farms she acquired after they were seized from white owners, and is selling milk to Nestle Zimbabwe.
The farms, some among the most valuable in the country, have fallen into ruin. She is apparently running this particular farm at a huge loss despite millions of rands worth of dairy equipment having been supplied and installed.

Delaval supplied Grace Mugabe with the dairy equipment imported mainly from Germany, Sweden and Poland.

The company’s national spokesperson, Rykie Visser, did not respond to the Daily News’s various messages and voice mail messages. However, on Tuesday Delaval’s international spokesperson and vice-president of marketing and communications, Benoit Passard, said they became aware of who they were doing business with only after reading recent articles in various newspapers about the sale.

When asked why the company had completed a business transaction with Zimbabwe and the Mugabe family despite sanctions, he said: “We regret that this has happened. We first made contact with the SA Dairy Association and then a long list of investors. The Mugabe name was never mentioned. This has come as a surprise to us and we would never have done business with them had we known this was who we were dealing with.”

The United Nations and the European Union have placed sanctions on Zimbabwe.
Passard said they were reviewing this transaction and taking the matter very seriously. The Daily News asked if the Pinetown-based company would be taken to task for their actions. “It’s still too early in our investigation to say,” was his response.

Nestle Zimbabwe on Tuesday said it had no choice but to buy milk from Grace Mugabe’s farm because many of its suppliers had gone out of business.


Bob’s Son, Barely A Teenager, Has A Farm

So the Telegraph says an international organisation has discovered that Robert “The Solution” Mugabe took five farms near his Highfield Farm in Norton between 2002 and 2008.
I did not think this was news. This stuff is quite well-known and there are more farms than the ones the Telegraph report on.

Highfield is a farm that Mugabe bought on the open market before the Land Reform Programme.
When the programme started in earnest, Mugabe decided that his family should also benefit from this. So, those who wish to do a Land Audit should know that they will not be able to pin him down on this one legally.
This is because those farms are for each member of his own family. There is a farm for Robert Jnr, another for Bona, one for Chatunga, who is barely a teenager. And then there is the man himself and his wife. That makes five people. Five farms.

We are not counting here the farms that the First Lady has grabbed from her children from her first marriage. We are not considering the various farms that she runs under the guise of one project, cooperative or the other.

There is Iron Mask Farm in Mazowe. Then there is that farm in the Mt Darwin area that I told you a few months back now has a Womens Cooperative sign on it.

Along the main road to Mazowe from Harare, just after the Mazoe dam, there is another huge complex of half-finished, tiled houses built on a farm the First Lady said was to house street kids.

Perhaps the street kids did not want to live in such opulent houses and they now stand abandoned, derelict even before they are finished.

It has also been known for a very long time that the Minister of Agriculture in Zimbabwe, Joseph Made, acts as the Farm Manager for Mugabe, looking after the farms, ensuring the availability of inputs and a good yield.
This is the reason why, despite his dismal failure as a Minister of Agriculture, Made stayed on and on and on…..and even came back in with the Inclusive Government. Mugabe judges him not by the national results, but by the results the Minister gets on the President’s farms.

Two years ago, as the nations farmers reeled under a severe inputs shortage and failed to grow anything respectable, Mugabe was boasting about his bumper harvest at Highfield Farm, mostly maize.
As revealed today also, the president keeps camels at one of the farms – a present from Libya’s Muamar Gaddafi, who celebrates 40 years in power this year.

Then there are Brahman bulls and all those cattle that his is showered it at rally after rally during campaigns.
And it is also revealed now that Grace Mugabe supplies a million litres of milk to Nestle each month. Baby milk and condensed milk from Grace Mugabe herself! No wonder she can splash out US$30 000 shopping in Manhattan.

It is inconceivable to Mugabe that one day, his children may lose those farms as audits are taken. Which is why he is now on a mission to also compromise MDC MPs and Ministers with offers of farms of their own, which they are taking up.

Now they are in the same boat. It is in their interest to ensure that they never “reverse” the Land Reform Programme. Otherwise they also stand to lose personally.

And you wonder why the MDC is doing nothing as farmers’ houses are burnt down, farmers assaulted and operations disrupted? As I said before, talk is cheap.

And it is no use to stay in the Prime Minister’s office pointing at Mugabe and claiming that there is nothing you can say or do because he is blocking you. Fight as hard as you are fighting for Governors, but direct those efforts to matter such as these.

Then people will see that there is difference between you and Mugabe.


SALOU, SPAIN - OCTOBER 01: Conrad Rautenbach of Zimbabwe and Daniel Barritt of Great Britain compete in their Citroen C4 Junior Team during the Shakedown of the WRC Rally de Espana on October 1, 2009 in Salou, Spain.

ST ANDREWS, SCOTLAND - OCTOBER 01: Marc Cayeux of Zimbabwe hits his tee-shot on the second hole during the first round of The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at The Old Course on October 1, 2009 in St. Andrews, Scotland.

ONI found no evidence of Internet filtering in Zimbabwe. 

Though human rights abuses are rampant and the government maintains strict control over the media, ONI found no evidence of Internet filtering in Zimbabwe.

The number of Internet users in 2008 was reportedly 1,421,000, or approximately 10.5 percent of Zimbabwe’s population of 13.3 million.20 This is a stunning increase from the 2000 penetration rate of 0.4 percent.21 The high cost of mobile phones – repeated tariff hikes brought the mobile-to-mobile cost per minute to as much as ZWD72 million (USD0.12 at June 2008 exchange rates)22 – has made the Internet a comparatively cheaper, and therefore more popular, form of communication.23 Still, hyperinflation has left the government bankrupt and eight in ten Zimbabweans destitute,24 and unemployment is at 94 percent.25 In such an environment, demand for luxury goods such as computers and Internet use is low.

The Mugabe-Tsvangirai Government of National Unity has established a new Ministry for ICT that will focus on ICT growth and development.26 In April 2009 the government announced a plan to establish Internet cafés at post offices in rural areas.27 However, given the state of the country’s economy, progress in the ICT sector is slow.

Zimbabwe’s first ISP, Data Control, was established in 1996. In 1997, the national Posts and Telecommunication Corporation (PTC) built a national Internet backbone and began selling bandwidth to private ISPs.28 The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) oversees ISP licensing. Licenses cost USD2-4 million, depending on the level of service the ISP wishes to provide, plus 3.5 percent of the ISP’s annual gross income.29 The most recent membership list on the Zimbabwe Internet Service Providers Association (ZISPA) Web site comprises 28 ISPs.30

Government-owned communications company TelOne, which is not part of ZISPA, is Zimbabwe’s largest ISP; it provides bandwidth to most other ISPs in the country. In September 2006, international satellite communications provider Intelsat cut service to TelOne after the company failed to pay its USD700,000 debt. TelOne requested money from Zimbabwe’s Reserve Bank to pay the debt, but the money was delayed for several weeks. During this time, Internet users in the country experienced severe delays.31 Service was restored after the reserve bank paid the outstanding debt.32

Financial problems have continued to plague TelOne: in April 2009, the company raised its monthly service charges from less than USD30 to USD300. The price hike affected both individual Internet subscribers and Internet cafés throughout the country, many of whom were forced to cancel their subscriptions and, in the case of cafés, shut their doors.33 In June 2009, the country’s Minister of Information and Communication Technology ordered TelOne to lower its prices; the government then announced plans to privatize the company as part of its attempt to revitalize the country’s economy.34

The Post and Telecommunications Act of 2000 allows the government to monitor e-mail usage and requires ISPs to supply information to government officials when requested.35 The Supreme Court, however, ruled in 2004 that the sections of the law that permit monitoring violated the constitution.36 The government struck back with an initiative that requires ISPs to renew contracts with TelOne with the stipulation that they report any e-mail with “offensive or dangerous” content.37 In essence, this requires ISPs to do what the Supreme Court has ruled unconstitutional. The Zimbabwe Internet Service Providers Association has stated that none of its members will sign agreements with TelOne.38

The government strengthened its Internet surveillance policies with the Interception of Communications Bill of 2006. Under its provisions, the government will establish a telecommunications agency called the Monitoring and Interception of Communications Center to oversee, among other things, all telecommunications and postal services. Telecommunications and Internet service providers are required to ensure that their systems are technically capable of monitoring and to cover all associated costs.39 The government initially withdrew the bill in November 2006 over constitutionality objections from the Parliamentary Legal Committee, but the parliament approved it in June 2007.40

In June 2009, the government began discussing a new Information Communication and Technology Bill, which will take the place of the Broadcasting Services Act and the Postal and Telecommunications Act.41 It will also amend some sections of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, which, among other things, governs the accreditation of journalists.42 If passed, the bill will consolidate ICT regulation under the proposed National Information and Communications Technology Authority of Zimbabwe, which will oversee ICT, broadcasting and postal services.43 The Authority will technically be an independent organization, though it will also be responsible for enacting government policies, a duty that may compromise its independence.44

According to Reporters Without Borders, during the 2008 presidential elections, government forces hacked into journalists’ e-mail accounts; eight journalists were fired for allegedly failing to support Mugabe and the ZANU-PF.45 Employees of the Reserve Bank are not allowed to receive e-mails containing the words “Morgan Tsvangirai” or “MDC”; the bank has had an e-mail content manager installed since 2006 that prevents e-mails with political content from reaching their intended recipients.46 In 2005, authorities arrested 40 people in a raid on a local Internet café because an e-mail insulting Mugabe was sent from the location.47

ONI conducted testing on Zimbabwean ISP CABSAS in September 2008 and found no evidence of filtering.

Despite the recent governmental changes, Zimbabwe remains a highly repressive country with a failing economy and a poverty-stricken population. Internet penetration is low, and the Internet is mainly used for e-mail. As a result, the government restricts its efforts toward Internet control to e-mail monitoring and censorship. Though its legal authority to pursue such measures is contested, the government appears to be following through on its wishes to crack down on dissent via e-mail.

Very all the pumped up crap about the Chinese spying stuff was just that pumped up crap to scare the people.......all they can do is break into peoples e-mails...... laugh.gif laugh.gif laugh.gif


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