Sunday, July 31, 2005



Saturday, July 30, 2005


Astronomers detect '10th planet'.
By Dr David Whitehouse - Science Editor BBC news website.

The new planet has a highly inclined orbitAstronomers in the United States have announced the discovery of the 10th planet to orbit our Sun. The largest object found in our Solar System since Neptune was discovered in 1846, it was first seen in 2003 but has only now been confirmed as a planet.
Designated 2003 UB313, it is about 3,000km across, a world of rock and ice and somewhat larger than Pluto. Scientists say it is three times as far away as Pluto, in an orbit at an angle to the orbits of the other planets. Astronomers think that at some point in its history, Neptune likely flung it into its highly-inclined 44-degree orbit.
It is currently 97 Earth-Sun distances away - more than twice Pluto's average distance from the Sun. Its discoverers are Michael Brown of Caltech, Chad Trujillo of the Gemini Observatory in Hawaii, and David Rabinowitz of Yale University. It's not every day that you find something Pluto-sized or larger!
Chad Trujillo David Rabinowitz told the BBC News website: "It has been a remarkable day and a remarkable year. 2003 UB313 is probably larger than Pluto. It is fainter than Pluto, but three times farther away. "Brought to the same distance from the Sun as Pluto, it would be brighter. So today, the world knows that Pluto is not unique. There are other Plutos, just farther out in the Solar System where they are a little harder to find." It was picked up using the Samuel Oschin Telescope at Palomar Observatory and the 8m Gemini North telescope on Mauna Kea.
Chad Trujillo told the BBC News website: "I feel extremely lucky to be part of a discovery as exciting as this. It's not every day that you find something Pluto-sized or larger!" "The spectra that we took at the Gemini Observatory are particularly interesting because it shows that the surface of 2003 UB313 is very similar to that of Pluto." The object was first observed on 21 October 2003, but the team did not see it move in the sky until looking at the same area 15 months later on 8 January 2005.
The researchers say they tried looking for it with the Spitzer Space Telescope, which is sensitive to heat radiation, but failed to detect it. This gives them an upper limit of its size of 3,000 km, they say. The lower limit still makes it larger than Pluto. The discovery of 2003 UB313 comes just after the announcement of the finding of 2003 EL61, which appears to be a little smaller than Pluto.



France expels 'radical preacher'.

Nicolas Sarkozy has warned that hate speech will not be tolerated.France has deported a radical Islamist preacher from Algeria said to have given pro-jihad speeches in a mosque in north-east Paris. Reda Ameuroud, 35, was sent back to Algeria on a ship from Marseille.

The French interior ministry said it is planning to expel 10 more radical Islamists in August. Mr Ameuroud's brother, Abderahmane, 27, was sentenced to seven years in prison in May for helping two Tunisians who killed an Afghan commander in 2001. Abderahmane Ameuroud, who has been permanently banned from French territory, is also suspected of involvement in the training of would-be jihadists in the forest of Fontainebleau, west of Paris.

The deportation "has been carried out without incident," said a ministry official.


Stray Nigerian cows face arrest.

A number of accidents have been caused by stray cattle. Officials in a northern Nigerian city have announced they will arrest stray animals after a number of accidents. The animals' owners will also be fined by the mobile squad set up in Kaduna. A Kaduna official said any owners who did not pay the fine will see their beast auctioned off. The fine for a stray cow will be $15.

In July, an Air France plane ploughed into a herd of cows as it landed. In May, 25 people died when a lorry swerved to miss a cow and hit a bus. Kaduna state's environment commissioner, Mohammed Musa Baba, told AFP news agency that strays were "a serious menace and a health hazard". "The state government has established mobile courts, backed by law, to arrest and detain any animals seen roaming the streets, especially cows, sheep and goats, which move in herds," he said.

Cathy's letter from Zimbabwe

Dear Family and Friends,

For the last three months almost every single report from Zimbabwe has been about the destruction of homes, stalls and informal structures in our cities and towns. At first, when we could actually see the bulldozers, the huge clouds of dust and the piles of rubble in our towns and neighbourhoods, it was all very real and terrifying. Then we saw people desperately looking for shelter, carrying their belongings and lining the roads in their hundreds trying to get transport to move the remnants of their homes out of town and away from the bulldozers. Now, two months later, there is not much left for the ordinary passer by to see on the roadsides of Marondera. There are still piles of rubble here and there but mostly there are just empty spaces in the town. It is hard to believe that just two months ago you could buy a banana or a twist of newspaper brimming with ground nuts at the street corner. You could haggle with avendor over a huge orange mango, an avocado or a bowl of tomatoes or even buy a hand made hammock on the side of the road. You could have your shoes reheeled, your zip fixed or your bicycle spokes tightened by skilled selfemployed men and women earning an honest living from the pavements and alleyways all across Marondera.
Now the town is virtually deserted, the streets are quiet, you cannot even buy a banana on the roadside and everywhere, still everywhere, the four month old ZANU PF election posters cling to our lamp posts: "We are proud to be Zimbabweans on our land", the banners say. "Our land is our sovereignty" the slogans shout at us as we walk past them. We walk because after seven weeks there is still no petrol or diesel, almost no buses or taxis are moving and very few ordinary vehicles are still on the roads.And the question everyone is asking is what has happened to all those people whose homes and stalls were demolished. Where are they living now,how are they surviving, have they got enough to eat? There are more questions than answers.
This week I talked with a man who lives in a rural village and I am haunted by his stories, in shock at his descriptions. He told me of people arriving from the cities but of there being no empty houses where they can live. He told me of families doubling and tripling up to try and accommodate the desperate newcomers. He told me of meagre meals being shared and then watered down and shared yet again. He described how there was no space for people's possessions and so lounge suites and wardrobes were being stored on top of roofs - exposed to the wind, the dust and the dew. There are not enough houses in the villages,the wells are already running dry, all vegetable gardening has stopped due to the shortage of water and there is no land for all these new people to scratch a living on.
It was this very excuse of congested rural villages that the ZANU PF government used when they seized all the commercial farms and turned our country from a food exporter to a begging bowl. Now the rural villages are even more congested as yet more and more people arrive.People who once fixed shoes and bicycles, wove baskets and chairs, knitted jerseys or made hammocks now they just sit in the dusty villages,homeless, unemployed, hungry and completely at the mercy of the government systems to whom they will have to turn, for every single one of their most basic human needs. Control is complete. Until next week, with love, cathy.Copyright cathy buckle 30 July 2005 Mybooks on the Zimbabwean crisis, "African Tears" and "Beyond Tears" areavailable from: ; ; ; in Australia and New ; Africa:


Aid reaches Niger relief centres.

Actual distribution of the aid is not due to start until next week. Aid has begun reaching feeding centres for the 2.5m people estimated to be facing famine in Niger and distribution is due to begin in earnest next week. Most supplies are being brought in overland but more than 40 metric tons of emergency UN food aid has arrived by air from Italy and more is due.

France, the former colonial power, is to triple food aid and UK charities have appealed for fresh donations. Crops in Niger were badly hit this year by drought and a plague of locusts.

According to the UN's World Food Programme (WFP), 2.5m people are "on the brink of starvation". Doctors have warned that disease is now also a serious threat, particularly to undernourished children. "These children are very, very vulnerable," Johanne Sekkenes, mission head for Medecins Sans Frontieres in Niger, told Reuters news agency. "If they're already malnourished and they get malaria they need expert medical and nutritional help straight away."

Thursday, July 28, 2005


W Africa is new Latam drugs hub.

Most of the drugs coming via West Africa are destined for Europe.South American drug cartels have started to use West Africa as a hub for smuggling operations, UN experts say. The head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime in West and Central Africa told the BBC that some 40 tonnes of cocaine had recently been seized in the region.
Antonio Mazzitelli said lax policing in some West African nations was the main attraction for traffickers. He said cartels mostly targeted Europe, but some drugs were being turned into crack for local consumption. "It is a trend that we have already noticed in the last 24 months," Mr Mazzitelli told the BBC's World Today programme. "They [the cartels] have already moved into West Africa," he said. "In the last 18 months alone, recorded seizures in the Atlantic Ocean for cocaine - mostly in ships coming from West Africa - account for something in the range of 40 tonnes."
The UNODC chief said that logistically the region was a very "attractive transit point" for major cartels. "Drug traffickers realise that if they ship drugs directly from Latin America on ships... towards Europe they risk seizures". "So they prefer to unload their shipments somewhere on the midway and load it on other ships that are coming from non-suspicious locations like West African ports," Mr Mazzitelli said.


Bears may be back in Swiss Alps

Witnesses said they watched a bear emerge from woods 600m away. Brown bears may have returned to Switzerland, more than 100 years after disappearing from its mountains. Eye witnesses report seeing a bear high in the Alps near eastern Switzerland's border with Italy, where there is already an established bear population. Officials say they are still looking for evidence such as bear droppings, hair or tracks to confirm the sighting. While conservationists would welcome the bears' return, some Swiss shepherds fear for the safety of their flocks.

The Swiss authorities have been keen to see the return of the bear, hunted to extinction along with wolves and lynxes in the Alps in the 19th Century. Earlier this year, they began to set aside land in the south-east of the country, in the hope it might offer a corridor for bears to spread from northern Italy. The testimony from three people in Switzerland's Ofenpass National Park suggested at least one bear has made the passage, park officials said.

Some farmers see the return of bears as a threat to their livestock.The witnesses said they had spotted the creature 600m away through binoculars. They reported seeing it emerge from woodland into an open meadow, where they watched it for 20 minutes. However, failing light meant they were unable to photograph the bear.

The Worldwide Fund for Nature, based in Switzerland, has said bears should be able to adapt to life there, depending on their reception from the local population. The BBC's Imogen Foulkes in Geneva says some people fear the brown bear may not be greeted warmly by farmers. A re-established lynx population in the Bernese Oberland is seen as a threat to sheep and cattle, she says, while a lone wolf which strayed from France into Switzerland a few years ago was mysteriously found dead. But the reappearance of the brown bear may be welcomed by Switzerland as a whole, our correspondent adds. The Swiss capital, Bern, is named after a bear - although its medieval founder was inspired by the first animal he killed during a day out hunting.

The last bear in Switzerland was killed in 1904.


Mobile phones boom in Tanzania

By Simon Hancock - BBC Click Online.

We visit Tanzania where mobile phones are taking the country by storm, although only one in 10 houses has electricity . Mobile signals work in the most surprising places across Tanzania.An alien landing in Tanzania could be forgiven for thinking that the only business here was the mobile phone. Over the last few years they have completely taken over the landscape. Some 97% of Tanzanians say they can access a mobile phone, and what is just as interesting, as in many African countries, is how those phones are being used.
Take the island of Zanzibar for example. Here, fishing is one of the mainstays of the economy, supplying restaurants and hotels with fish for the many tourists who visit the island. Many fishermen now carry mobile phones while they are at sea, and they use them to check market prices. If there are too many fish in Zanzibar, they sail to Dar es Salaam to get better prices to make more money. Phones also serve another even more vital use, allowing fishermen in trouble to call for assistance.


Polygamy no fun, admits Ethiopian
By Mohammed Adow BBC, Ethiopia

Ayattu Nure: Do as I say, not as I do.
An Ethiopian man with 11 wives and 77 children is urging people not to follow his example and is giving advice on family planning and contraception. After seeing his fortune disappear under the competing demands of his enormous family, Ayattu Nure, 56, even urges people not to get married. "I want my children to be farmers but I have no land, I want them to go to school but I have no money," he says. But his eldest son has not heeded Mr Ayattu's advice and he has three wives. Seven of Mr Ayattu's wives live in huts around his compound, which are in urgent need of renovation. Another four live in huts on the other side of the valley in Giwe Abossa village, 300km from the capital, Addis Ababa in Arsi region.
He says he cannot remember all his children's names but tries to work out who they are from their mothers and which huts they live in. Mr Ayattu says he used to be rich and wanted to share his wealth around, which is why he took so many wives. But now he struggles to feed them all. "I feel like killing myself when I see my hungry children whom I cannot help," Mr Ayattu says.
His wives have given birth to more than 100 children but 23 have died.




Nigeria state segregates travel.

Kano has a history of inter-religious riots. The authorities in the northern Nigerian state of Kano have imposed a ban on Muslim men and women travelling together on public transport. They say the ban is in accordance with Sharia law. Men and women-only buses and motorcycle taxis were paraded in a mass rally at a stadium in the city of Kano.
Kano is one of several Muslim majority states that adopted Sharia law in 2000, a move which led to inter-religious riots that left thousands dead. Under the ban, commercial motorcylists seen carrying women could be fined. Correspondents say the scheme has been quite well-received by all communities as Christians will still be able to use existing non-segregated vehicles.
The governor of Kano state said a new force of 9,000 uniformed police would enforce the law.
You have no excuse to carry a woman who is neither your wife nor your mother on a motorcycle
said Ibrahim Kaliel Muslim cleric."Our aim is to be at the forefront of conducting our activities decently and to protect Allah's Sharia," Ibrahim Shekerau told the rally. Muslim cleric Ibrahim Kaliel had a warning for taxi drivers. "You have no excuse to carry a woman who is neither your wife nor your mother on a motorcycle," he said. "The Holy Prophet Mohammed says you should obey your leaders in all circumstances." But some drivers said they got most of their revenue from women.
"The government intends to put us out of business by this new law because we can't feed our family by relying on male customers who do not pay as much as women," moped operator Sahabi Malam told AFP news agency.
Kano is one of 12 northern states which have implemented Sharia law since 2000.
The move initially heightened tensions between Muslims and Christians and led to clashes which left thousands dead. Human rights groups have condemned abuses sanctioned under the law including amputations and flogging, and say it discriminates against women. Sharia law appears to have retained popular support in the north. But there is significant opposition to the law, especially among the Christian minority. While officially it does not apply to them, many say that in practice they are forced to comply.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Fifa slaps Kenya with ban.

The team are within reach of a Cup of Nations place. Kenya will play their next home World Cup qualifier, against Tunisia on 3 September, behind closed doors.
The decision was taken by Fifa's disciplinary committee, chaired by Marcel Mathier, following the crowd trouble that resulted in the death of a fan prior to Kenya's last qualifier against Morocco on 18 June.
Prior to the match in Nairobi, a group of people managed to force down the gates to the stadium, leaving a 15-year-old supporter dead and 15 other fans injured. A fine of US$19,000 was also imposed on the East African nation.
Kenya are in fourth place in Group Five of World Cup qualifying.


Zambian politician on spy charges.

Michael Sata wanted to succeed Frerick Chiluba as president. Zambia's opposition leader Michael Sata has been charged with spying, on top of earlier sedition charges for allegedly inciting miners to strike and riot.
Mr Sata's lawyer accused the police of "playing political games". The charges could lead to a jail term of 20 years. He was arrested on Friday, following last week's protests in some of the copper mines which remain crucial to Zambia's economy.
The strikes cost Zambia more than $20m, reports the AFP news agency. His court appearance was delayed because of the new charges. Mr Sata was a close aide to former President Frederick Chiluba but left the ruling MMD party after being overlooked as its 2001 presidential candidate, to set up the Patriotic Front.

Monday, July 25, 2005


Animal neglect cases 'up by 78%'.

The RSPCA said it found 20,000 dogs lacking basic care.
The RSPCA is calling on the government to strengthen animal cruelty laws after it recorded a rise of more than 70% in cases of owners neglecting animals. In the last 12 months, inspectors saw 68,732 animals whose basic food, water and shelter needs were being ignored - up 78% from 38,514 in 2003-4.
This included 19,352 animals who were not given access to water, up 96%. It is only the second year the details have been recorded and the charity said that may have influenced the increase.
The charity said dogs were most at risk with nearly 20,000 lacking basic care. Across all species, close to 3,000 animals were suffering because owners were ignoring care advice - an increase of 90% compared with the year before.
How do people still not understand that every animal needs water? RSPCA director Jackie Ballard said: "These statistics are truly shocking and we must ask the government to take notice and act now. "It is staggering that nearly 20,000 animals have not been getting access to water. "What does this say about society when even the most basic need of a living creature is denied? How do people still not understand that every animal needs water?"
The charity wants the government to change the law to give owners a legal obligation to provide animals with basic care, such as food, water, shelter and veterinary care. A catalogue of abuse has come before the courts in the past 12 months including a puppy which had its ears cut off with a knife and a dog with a tumour so large it dragged on the ground.
Another case involved three horses found living in piles of manure in derelict stables with hooves which had been allowed to grow so long they curled like rams' horns.
RSPCA spokesman John Rolls said the rise in cases was partly down to an improvement in the way the charity assessed cases of neglect. He told BBC News: "This year we've been able to detect more cruelty that has been going on."




Mugabe in China to seek aid boost.

Mugabe has been looking east for economic help.Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is in Beijing to discuss financial aid and trade with Chinese officials. Mr Mugabe is in China on a week-long visit, which will include meetings with President Hu Jintao and top officials. Mr Mugabe is expected to ask the Chinese for oil and food to ease his country's growing economic crisis.
Zimbabwe has one of the world's fastest shrinking economies, with 70% unemployment, soaring inflation and food and fuel shortages. No official details of what the two sides will discuss have been released, but Zimbabwe said last week that it was exploring alternative lines of credit with China and Malaysia. Mr Mugabe's government is currently in talks with South Africa about Zimbabwe's foreign debt.
On Sunday, South African President Thabo Mbeki said his country would be willing to take over part of Zimbabwe's debt to the International Monetary Fund. Mr Mbeki said the plan would be finalised following talks with the Zimbabwean government and opposition.
China, one of the world's fastest growing economies, is already ranked as one of Zimbabwe's largest trading partners and has supplied buses, civilian and military aircraft to Mr Mugabe's government. But Mr Mugabe's six-day visit demonstrates Beijing's growing involvement in the continent.
It also shows China's determination to welcome an old ally, regardless of Mr Mugabe's pariah status in the West, the BBC's Quentin Sommerville in Shanghai says. The ties between China and Mr Mugabe date back to the 1970s war of independence, when fighters from his Zanu party were armed by the Chinese.

Saturday, July 23, 2005


Getting stuck in the mud in Chad.

Stephanie Hancock gives her first impressions after arriving in Chad's capital, Ndjamena, to report for the BBC.

Roads have turned into lakes. When you think of Chad you will probably conjure up an image of a vast desert landscape, with not a drop of water anywhere. This may be true for much of the time, but not at the moment as the rainy season has just begun here. Chadians are very happy their long wait for the rains is over and the streets of Ndjamena are really bustling. But rain is not always good news.
After 30 years of civil war, Chad's infrastructure is almost non-existent. Very few roads are tarred, so the torrential rains are slowly turning Ndjamena into a giant mud bath. Things are so bad that whole neighbourhoods have become islands, cut off by lakes of muddy water. And young boys are renting out pirogues for residents to cross from one side to the other.
Strikes seem to be the norm here.
Drivers are angered by attempts to seize their taxi rank land. Two weeks ago, it was the turn of the capital's security guards, complaining about low wages. And last week Ndjamena became a ghost town when taxi drivers went on strike. Meals are simple, such as grilled fish and rice. But people can be very generous. At a dinner last week, my host served meat stew, four giant fish and two whole roast chickens - even though he had only invited two guests.
One unusual thing about the capital is that nobody appears to play music in the streets. Driving to neighbouring Cameroon last week, I soon heard radios pumping out music, filling the streets with noise. By contrast, Ndjamena can seem sombre and quiet. Since my arrival, I have been contacted by many curious people to sum-up Chad. But this is almost impossible and is like nowhere I have ever visited.

Cathy's letter from Zimbabwe

Dear Family and Friends,
Shocking reports this week told of how 300 homeless men, women and children sheltering in Bulawayo churches were forcibly turned out in the middle of the night by government officials and trucked off to a holding camp. One Church leader described the midnight raid as brutal and horrific and said: "They had elderly folk, and they were piling them onto vehicles; they were frog-marching children ...who had been asleep." I know that any parent who has woken their child from a deep sleep will feel the same utter horror as I do at this description. I am appalled to think that our government officials have become so cruel as to be able to carry out these acts in the middle of the night, in mid winter, to defenceless women, children and babies. Are they not also parents, fathers, grandfathers?
Also this week priests who had been helping displaced people in Mutare and Bulawayo were called in for questioning by government officials. In Bulawayo church leaders from various denominations were forbidden from going into holding camps where hundreds of homeless people have been taken. The churches were told that they have to have permission from the political governor of the area before they may visit the poor and destitute in the holding camp. Meanwhile in an absolutely absurd Alice in Wonderland development inHarare, the government started moving homeless people back to exactly the same sites on which their homes had been demolished a few weeks ago. ZBC television on Friday showed Zanu PF Minister Chombo preparing to address a crowd of people whose homes had been demolished by government bulldozers. The people clenched their fists, raised their arms and chanted slogans inpraise of Zanu PF and then listened as the Minister told them that those who had lease agreements were to be taken "home" to their piles of rubble. Minister Chombo told these people who have lost everything that not only can they go back, but that they will be given free transport to get there. The Minister then went on to announce that the people would be given sheets of asbestos and treated timber poles which they could use to erect "temporary structures" which they would be allowed to live in for one year while they built their permanent homes. Oh dear, I am just left utterlyspeechless.
As things get worse and worse in Zimbabwe, more and more people are seeing the truth about what has really been going on here and are speaking out, and for this we give thanks. We thank the South African Council of Churches who have launched Operation Hope for Zimbabwe to assist the 700 000 people made homeless by Operation Murambatsvina. We thank Nigerian poet and Nobel Prize winner Wole Soyinka who this week said that: "A great revolutionary...a liberation fighter has become a monster." Soyinka said that African leaders should have the courage to sanction Zimbabwe - by refusing to give it loans. And we thank the UN special envoy Anna Tibaijuka for her report, her voice and her courageous words which speak for millions here who are voiceless. We thank the people of New Zealand for their protests on our behalf and we thank Zimbabweans in exile in countries all over the world for not having forgotten us. Until next week, with love cathyCopyright cathy buckle 23 July 2005.http://africantears.netfirms.comMy books on the Zimbabwean crisis, "African Tears" and "Beyond Tears" areavailable from: ; ; ; in Australia and New Zealand:; Africa:




On the trail of DR Congo's 'cursed' gold.
By Will Ross BBC News, Mongbwalu.

In the town of Mongbwalu in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Richard is all smiles as he shows me a small flake of gold balanced on the tip of his finger. He has just found it after sieving mud and sand for the whole morning. The gold, which he wraps up in the metal foil from a cigarette packet, is worth less than $10 (£5.50) but it will provide food for his family.

DR Congo is rich in precious minerals such as diamonds and gold - but its people have gained little from this wealth because of conflict and bad government. A new report by Human Rights Watch says gold deposits in the volatile north-east of the country have been the catalyst for much of the conflict in the area. Much of the gold is sent to Uganda which has, as a result, become a significant exporter of the precious metal. The gold trail I am following to Uganda begins back in Mongbwalu, in DR Congo's Ituri district.

Thousands of miners work here in muddy pits, extracting sand, mud and rocks in the search for gold. But they are not getting rich and their work is risky. The disused, often flooded industrial mines are the most dangerous. Days before I visited Mongbwalu, two men had died because of a lack of oxygen in one such mine. Mongbwalu is a beautiful, fertile hilly area. But the presence of gold has given it a violent history.

The New York based Human Rights Watch says 2,000 civilians were killed during 2002 and 2003 as rival militias fought for control of the mines.




Villagers killed in DR Congo raid. - REPORT FROM BBC NEWS

The FDLR wants security guarantees before returning to Rwanda. Rwandan rebels have killed 13 villagers in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a provincial governor has said. The attacks in Kigalama were carried out at night by militiamen wielding machetes and guns, said the governor of South Kivu, Didace Kaningini. He said the rebels from the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR) carried out the attack as they were fleeing from UN peacekeepers. The FDLR, blamed for involvement in the 1994 Rwanda genocide, denied the claim.
The war in DR Congo
The UN - which has 3,000 peacekeepers in the area - said it would investigate the incident.
Volatile region
The attack took place in Kigalama, about 130km (80 miles) south-west of the provincial capital, Bukavu, despite recent operations carried out by the UN to secure the area.

Living with the rebels
"Thirteen people were massacred... in Kigalama, " Mr Kaningini was quoted as saying by AFP news agency.
"The FDLR surrounded the village and began to fire. People fled and were killed, most of them by crude weapons, as they were trying to escape.
An FDLR spokesman denied the accusations.
The spokesman added that the only way to bring stability to central Africa would be to open political negotiations between the FDLR and the government in Rwanda.
Thousands of Rwandan militiamen entered eastern Congo after the 1994 genocide in which about 800,000 people - mostly ethnic Tutsis - were killed.
The rebels - ethnic Hutu - have repeatedly said they do not want to go back to Rwanda unless they are granted amnesty.
The UN began a joint operation with the Congolese army earlier this week to flush out the rebels after they failed to comply with an ultimatum to pull out of the area.
The rebels' presence has led to years of fighting in eastern Congo.
Rwanda has twice invaded, saying it is trying to wipe out the rebels. They were supposed to have been disarmed under a 2003 peace deal.

Friday, July 22, 2005


Many Nigerians still wary of police.
By Yusuf Sarki Muhammad - BBC News, Abuja.

Nigeria's police have a history of violence. A judicial panel set up by the Nigerian government is investigating the killing in Abuja by police of six traders from the nearby village of Apo. One of the accused, deputy police commissioner Danjuma Ibrahim, said that police plotted to ensure a suspect escaped so that he could be "indicted and killed". As the panel hears testimony from suspects and families of the dead, the newly appointed inspector-general of police, Sunday Ehindero, has been assessing his first six months in office.
The Apo tragedy is still very, very recent in our minds... for them to be celebrating, I think it is a national disgrace - Ojobo Atuluku.
He says that in that time, the police have arrested 600 armed robbery suspects and killed another 114 suspects who engaged them in battle. The police have also recovered more than 400 firearms. However, few people outside the service believe this is a commendable accomplishment. Even the police's new slogan, "to serve and protect with integrity", has failed to win over the public.
Ojobo Atuluku, a human rights campaigner, said the police are the same as they ever were.
"The police don't seem to have changed anything else about their nature, their practices or their processes," she said. "They seem to be doing good by their own indicators. There's a lot of human rights abuses, there's a lot of extortion still going on.
"The Apo tragedy is still very, very recent in our minds... for them to be celebrating, I think it is a national disgrace." Although the Apo incident has been well publicised, there are many other cases that have not received similar attention, as Clement Wasa from Community Action for Popular Participation, an Abuja-based NGO, pointed out. He gave as an example the case of Issa Adams, who he said was a victim of police brutality just a few days before the Apo killings.
"Issa Adams and his brother and a cousin were arrested along the airport road on the pretext that they were armed robbery suspects, and kept in police custody for over three days," he said.
"At the time they were arrested, their houses were seized and they were kept incommunicado for three days."


Soyinka urges Zimbabwe sanctions,

Soyinka wants the end of African solidarity with Mugabe. One of Africa's best-known authors, Wole Soyinka, has called for sanctions to be imposed on Zimbabwe, calling the situation there "a disgrace" to Africa.
The Nigerian writer said President Mugabe was typical of "rogues and monsters" clinging to power in Africa. African leaders have been reluctant to criticise human rights abuses in Zimbabwe; many see Mr Mugabe as a hero of the struggle against colonialism. Mr Soyinka said this kind of solidarity was wrong and should be ended.
He was speaking in South Africa, where he is due to give a lecture on Friday as part of the celebration of former President Nelson Mandela's 87th birthday. Bulldozers have been turned into an instrument of governance
He said that South Africa should not give Zimbabwe the emergency economic assistance it had asked for. It is not clear what other sanctions Mr Soyinka called for.
Mr Mugabe and dozens of his officials are banned from travelling to the European Union and the United States because of their alleged involvement in rigging elections and human rights abuses.




Violent protests persist in Kenya.

Protesters object to a controversial draft constitution.
Kenyan demonstrators have staged a third day of protests over Kenya's constitution as parliament debates a controversial new draft. Police reportedly used teargas to disperse crowds that started gathering in central Nairobi on Thursday afternoon. One person was shot dead in Wednesday's clashes with police. Critics say the proposed changes to the constitution leave the president with too much power.
President Mwai Kibaki was elected in 2002, partly on a promise to reduce the president's powers within 100 days. However, the process has dragged on.
Some 20 people were detained during the first two days of protests, which were banned by authorities, Reuters news agency reports. "We will put up as much protest as necessary to stop a few politicians disregarding the will of the people," Kotiamet Ole-Kina, whose Katiba (Constitution) Watch group is one of those organising the demonstrations, told Reuters.
Parliament has until Friday to finalise its version of the constitution before Kenyans have their say in a referendum in October.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005




Pipeline risk to Siberia wildlife.
By Sarah Rainsford BBC News, eastern Siberia, Russia.

Leopards have already disappeared from North Korea and China. Seven time zones east of Moscow is one of the most protected areas of Russia. The lush forests of the Pine Valley nature reserve are home to dozens of endangered species - none more rare than the Amur Leopard.
The big cat once stalked this land in great numbers but there are fewer than 40 leopards left.
This corner of Russia is the cat's last remaining wild habitat.
Now environmentalists warn it is under threat - from a plan to build the longest oil pipeline in the world. The state-backed pipeline monopoly Transneft will shortly submit its final proposal for the multi-billion-dollar project - a line to feed the energy-hungry markets of China and Japan from the as yet untapped reserves of east Siberian oilfields. According to the current proposal, the pipeline would pass within metres of the Pine Valley reserve, taking 1.6 million barrels of oil a day to a vast terminal on the coast.
Alexander Zayev is in charge of five rangers protecting the reserve. Driving out on patrol, his old rifle rattling against one camouflage-clad knee, Alexander says his main enemies are poachers and forest fires. China is developing fast and needs lots of oil. So we have a lot to gain with this
Sergei GrigorievTransneft Vice President calls the valley a natural botanical garden - it has been guarded from human intervention since Soviet times. But Alexander fears the Pacific pipeline project would cause irreparable damage. "The population in this area would increase several times," he says.
"That means many more poachers; more people straying into the reserve. With a new industrial zone on our doorstep, this area would be impossible for us to protect." Those backing the Pacific pipeline call it the mega-project of the century.
But environmentalist Sergei Bereznyuk believes it would be the last straw for the Amur leopard. "We already lost the leopard population in North Korea and China. The last ones are here in the Russian Far East," explains Sergei, director of the Phoenix Fund in Vladivostok. He has appealed to the courts to try to stop the project. "It's just crazy to make the pipeline go through the leopards' habitat," he says. "We've proposed other routes that would be better for the people of Primorye region and for the leopard."
Beyond the initial construction work, Sergei is also concerned about plans to build a terminal in the pristine bay at Perevoznaya. The water here is shallow and the winds strong, so local scientists calculate oilspills from tanker traffic are a real risk. Russia's only marine reserve is just a few miles out to sea.
The pipeline route via Perevoznaya has not been approved yet by the government, and officially Transneft says it is not final. But the firm seems confident. It is already promoting the project at major conferences; luring investors. "This is a unique project," enthuses Transneft Vice President Sergei Grigoriev, surrounded by hundreds of businessmen - many of them foreign - all vying to be involved with the pipeline.




Terror suspects arrested in Kenya. Kenya is seen as a weak flank in the war on terror. Kenyan police have arrested five men on suspicion of involvement in activities linked to terrorism. Reports say they were seen taking photos from a ferry near the eastern coastal city of Mombasa. The five men - who were arrested on Saturday - were not carrying valid travel documents but are believed to be Pakistani nationals.
There have been several cases in Kenya of people arrested on terrorism charges being later cleared of suspicion. In June, four people detained after being seen filming classrooms built under a US aid programme were freed.
Meanwhile seven people charged in connection with the 2002 suicide bombing at a hotel in Mombasa were acquitted in the same month after an 18-month trial. Correspondents say Western security services regard Kenya as a weak flank in the war on terror. Anti-terrorism police and agents from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation were on their way to interrogate the latest suspects, The Standard newspaper said.
The suspects were also said to have quarrelled with a hotel receptionist after trying to obtain information about its guests, it said.


Waking up to Congo's sleeping sickness.
By Cassie Knight Nkayi, western Congo.

After two years living in the forests of Congo, Maman Louise was ill. Maman Louise is now able to work her fields again"My eyes rolled around my head and I couldn't stop talking. Sometimes I started singing, and then I became aggressive," she says. "I was really bad, even to my own children. I wanted to kill my own son. I threw things at him. I was savage. But I had no idea what I was doing."
Maman Louise had fled her home during the civil war and caught sleeping sickness while hiding in the bush. Sleeping sickness, or Human African Trypanosomiasis, is a disease caused by a parasite carried by the tsetse fly. People can have it for years and suffer nothing worse than fever and headaches.
But once the parasite gets into the brain, their condition deteriorates and they become withdrawn and unresponsive or aggressive, deranged and hyperactive. It can be fatal.
'Resurrection drug' The disease is curable with a drug nick-named the "resurrection drug" for its dramatic ability to bring back patients from the edge of death.




S Africa marks Mandela birthday.

A comic book is planned to document Mr Mandela's life.
Celebrations are taking place in South Africa to mark Nelson Mandela's 87th birthday. They started in Mr Mandela's former prison cell on Robben Island with the lighting of a torch. This will be carried across South Africa to raise awareness about HIV-Aids. The former president will spend his birthday at his family home at Qunu in Eastern Cape province, hosting a party for orphaned and vulnerable children. The torch will be carried from Robben Island, near Cape Town, to Johannesburg where it will be used to light candles on a birthday cake for Mr Mandela at Ellis Park Stadium on Saturday.
Mr Mandela has launched an exhibition of gifts he has received over the years. Next month will see the publication of the first in a series of comic-style books to educate young people about the life and times of the former president. Over the next few days, the birthday celebrations will also be marked by a series of public lectures with the theme "The meaning of Mandela". These will look at the former president's role, both in the transition of his country from white minority rule to democracy, and in the fight against HIV-Aids.
It has been a difficult year for Nelson Mandela, with his son, Makgatho, dying of Aids in January. In recent months Mr Mandela has been embroiled in a bitter legal battle with his former legal adviser over the use of the Mandela name for fundraising purposes.

Sunday, July 17, 2005


By Adam Mynott - BBC News, Turbi, northern Kenya

Villagers feared they were all going to be killed. The death toll from the attack on the village of Turbi in Kenya has continued to rise all week. In the dusty town straddling one of the main roads leading through northern Kenya towards Ethiopia, there is an atmosphere of extreme tension. As we drove into Turbi, flames were rising from five houses which had belonged to relatives of the Borana clan, who are accused of carrying out the savage attack on the village.
They had been burnt as retaliation for what had happened. I was led through the village by Isako Mula - a young Gabra herdsman who had lost a young brother in the attack. There is no doubt they wanted to kill us all
Guwe SakoTurbi head teacher - He showed me the blood-stained soil where his brother Roba had died. He pointed out the body of one the Borana raiders, which had been left unburied by the roadside. We went to the school where three children had died, some in a hail of bullets, others from machete blows. The head teacher, Guwe Sako, said the attack came without warning. "I and some of the children had just arrived at the school when the firing started. "There is no doubt," he said, "they wanted to kill us all."



Cathy's letter from Zimbabwe

Dear Family and Friends,
Zimbabwe is shuddering to a stop just 14 weeks after Zanu PF declared they had won the 2005 parliamentary elections. Chronic shortages of petrol and diesel have almost shut the country down. There is a silence spreading over the land and with it is coming a sense of camaraderie and unity asZimbabweans literally walk to the end line of these years of madness. Is it here on a cold but crystal clear winter morning in the silence that has become suburban Marondera and flip through many hundreds of weekly letters I have written since this began and wonder if this will be the last winter of discontent. If I did not see my own words in black and white I would not believe that such things could have happened or that our prosperous country and her wonderful people could have endured such horrors.In July 2000, four months after our farm had been invaded by war veterans and government supporters, I wrote: " Went down to the little dam today...Once densely enclosed with trees, the surrounds are now sparse and a cold wind blew through the haven where our cattle used to drink. The dam wall had been broken and water gushes out... the entire surface area of the dam is covered with thick, choking, suffocating red Azolla weed. Floating and bloated in the water is a dead animal ..."
In July 2001 I wrote : "I cannot tell you how I felt this week when a grandfather phoned me to see if there was anything I could do to help his son, daughter in law and three grandchildren under 10 years old who had been barricaded into their farmhouse by two dozen war veterans. Gates had been smashed down, fires had been lit on the lawn, dogs had been cowed into submission and through the night the war veterans sang and drummed and pelted the roof of the house with rocks to try and chase this family out."
In July 2002 : "I have an 84 year old man living two doors away from me and he stood at my gate again this week. He calls me his Guardian Angel and begged that I give him $60 for a loaf of bread. He is white and his need is as great as the 14 year old black boy who runs alongside my car when I turn in at the supermarket. He too begs for money to buy a loaf of bread. If only the men and women in our government would stop their motorcades, get out of their chauffeur driven limousines and see this immense tragedy, see the huge suffering of all black, white and brown Zimbabweans."
In July 2003: "I heard how 200 Kamativi villagers are hiding in the mountains to escape the violence of the government youth militia who have hounded them out of their homes accusing them of not supporting Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF. I can hardly bear to think of how those people ares urviving. It is the middle of winter here and as my son and I cycle to school every morning wearing coats and gloves and wooly hats, the frostlies in thick white sheets along the roadside. What sort of government could knowingly allow their supporters to force people out of their homes and into the freezing elements..."
In July 2004: "The issue under the spotlight at the moment is theGovernment Ministers and high ranking officials who have got, taken or been given more than one farm... One of the Ministers concerned said the withdrawal letters were 'preposterous and annoying.' He said of the multiple farms credited to him, one had been reallocated to his cousin and another to his mother."
And now, many winters later, in July 2005, I quote the South African Council Of Churches who have just visited Zimbabwe: "In God's name, stop Operation Murambatsvina ...This operation is inhumane and causes widespread suffering to the people." ..."They [the Zimbabwean government]have no idea what to do with the people, and this is the sadness of it,"The Church report estimated the number of people thrown out on the street to be between 800 000 and one million. Until next week, love cathyCopyright cathy buckle 16th July 2005 Mybooks on the Zimbabwean crisis, "African Tears" and "Beyond Tears" areavailable from: ; ; ; in Australia and New ; Africa:

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


Killer leopard shot in Pakistan.

Snow leopards are protected.

Police in north Pakistan have shot dead a rare snow leopard, blamed for killing six women in the past two weeks. The ageing animal was caught in a trap, with a goat as bait, but was shot when it tried to escape, police in the town of Abbotabad told the BBC.
Fear had spread through the area after the attacks. The last was on Friday. Abbotabad police chief Feroz Shah said he was sure it was the leopard that had killed the women, all of whom had been gathering firewood in forests.

"It's a huge animal and it came back to the same spot where it killed the last woman," Mr Shah told Reuters. Snow leopards are protected in Pakistan, but police had been given permission to catch or kill the animal. As well as traps, large numbers of policemen armed with tranquilisers had been deployed.




ANC split on Mbeki's future role.

President Thabo Mbeki is due to step down in 2009. South Africa's ruling ANC is split on whether President Thabo Mbeki should be allowed to remain party leader after he steps down as national president.
The ANC Youth League has published a statement, saying he should not be allowed to remain as ANC leader after he leaves his national job in 2009. But the ANC spokesman told the BBC there was nothing to stop Mr Mbeki from seeking re-election in the party.
This is the latest fall-out from the sacking of Deputy President Jacob Zuma. The Youth League supports Mr Zuma and some see Mr Mbeki's comments that he would consider standing for a third term as ANC president as an attempt to prevent Mr Zuma from succeeding him.
Mr Zuma, previously the firm favourite to succeed Mr Mbeki as South African leader, was sacked last month after his financial adviser was convicted of corruption and fraud.
The ANC Youth League said that if the country and the party had different leaders, there would be "two centres of power". "We hold an unwavering view that the president of the ANC must be president of the country, as long as the ANC is the ruling party," said a statement on the Youth League website.
ANC spokesman Smuts Ngonyama, however, told the BBC's Network Africa programme that it would be undemocratic for Mr Mbeki to be barred from party elections due in 2007. He pointed out that at the local levels, council and regional leaders were not necessarily party leaders.


SA clergy probe Zimbabwe raids.

The church leaders hope to speak to victims of evictions. A delegation of South African churchmen has arrived in Zimbabwe to assess the consequences of a recent crackdown on shack dwellers and traders. Anglican Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane, co-leader of the delegation, said they wanted to hear the stories of people affected by the raids.
Shack demolitions over the past two months have left more than 200,000 people homeless, according to the UN. UN envoy Anna Tibaijuka says she is to finish a report on the evictions soon. Archbishop Ndungane said he would meet politicians "if possible". "But our primary objective is to meet with the people, listen to their stories, pray with them and indicate our love and care and support," the archbishop told South African Broadcasting Corporation radio. Russel Botman, chair of the South African Council of Churches, is the other co-leader of a delegation that includes Catholic Cardinal Wilfred Napier and leaders from several Protestant churches.
The Zimbabwe government says Operation Murambatsvina [Drive Out Rubbish] is aimed at ridding urban areas of criminals.
Teachers, doctors, church groups, the UN and the opposition have condemned the moves. A report on the situation by UN envoy Anna Tibaijuka is to be handed to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan within two weeks, Ms Tibaijuka's spokesman told Reuters news agency. "We are now writing the report and it will be handed over to the secretary general within one to two weeks ... The procedure (on whether it will be made public) is up to him," spokesman Sharad Shankardass said. I will remember going around seeing people struggling to put up accommodation for themselves
Ms Tibaijuka, who heads the UN Habitat agency, on Friday ended her 12-day mission after being sent by the secretary general to investigate the evictions. "Some of the people I visited were not necessarily in proper shelters," the UN envoy told Reuters. "I will remember going around seeing people struggling to put up accommodation for themselves," she said. Ms Tibaijuka said Habitat would support government, non-governmental organisations and other UN agencies to address housing problems in Zimbabwe. "I have immediately decided to support the UN country team with a programme manager to make sure that we sort out the challenges once and for all," she said.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Cathy Buckle's Letter From Zimbabwe.

Dear Family and Friends,
Zimbabwe acquired 69 new buses this week. The arrival of the buses made headline news on Zimbabwe's radio and television stations on Thursday 7th July 2005. For the first twenty six minutes of the main hour long news bulletin on Thursday evening, the only story was the 69 buses. Video footage showed a line of parked shiny blue and yellow buses stretching as far as the eye could see. This was followed by a string of interviews with prospective passengers either standing next to or seated in a stationary bus. At one point the glories of the shiny, blue and yellow buses were contrasted with a parking lot full of stranded, dusty country buses -stranded because of the now dire shortage of fuel across the country. The absurdity of reporting on new buses arriving when almost the entire country has come to a standstill this week, was striking. Thirty seven minutes into the same evening news bulletin, Zimbabwe television reported on the 4 bombs that had devastated London on Thursday morning. In less than two minutes ZBC TV told the entire story of the London horror. They then moved on to explain, yet again, why our government was still breaking down peoples homes in mid winter in their drive to restore order. Millions of Zimbabweans, literally, have experienced terror at first hand in our country in the last five years, and we offer our love, support and prayers to the victims and families of the horrific bombs in London.Watching some of the film footage of thousands of people walking out of London on Thursday was strikingly similar to scenes in Zimbabwe this week. An eerie silence has descended across Zimbabwe as we are now a country completely crippled without fuel. We wake up to silence as people walk to work, rush hours are non existent and literally hundreds of people line the roads desperate for lifts. Stocks in shops are dwindling andbusinesses are barely ticking over as there are fewer and fewer customersable to travel. One friend told me this week that sales in their normallybusy business had dropped by 40 percent in the last five days. The reality of a country coming to a dry and grinding halt does make the story of the 69 buses rather ludicrous doesn't it?I will end this week on the latest absurdity to come out of Zimbabwe and I quote from the government owned press:
"Harare City Council has rescinded all land sale agreements made between1998 and this year and is now reselling the land at market rates to thesame buyers, where necessary," the official Herald newspaper reported,citing Harare Town Clerk Nomutsa Chideya.
When things can't get much worse, the silliest things cause great hilarity. How about this gem doing the rounds: "The new Barbie on the market comes with: no shoes, no clothes, no make up, no car, no food, nohouse and no farm. Its called... Zimbarbie!" Until next week, with love,cathy.Copyright cathy buckle 9th July 2005. http://africantears.netfirms.comMy books on the Zimbabwean crisis, "African Tears" and "Beyond Tears" areavailable from: ; ; ; in Australia and New Zealand:; Africa:

Wednesday, July 06, 2005




Protesters breach G8 march route.

Police, some with dogs, charged the protesters back from the fenceRiot police and protesters have clashed after the demonstrators broke away from the agreed route of a march near the G8 summit venue at Gleneagles. Hundreds left the route in Auchterarder and filed through a field to the steel security fence erected round the luxury hotel and its estate. Extra officers in riot gear with dogs were flown in by helicopter.
The trouble follows violence earlier in the day elsewhere in central Scotland. Police have made more than 160 arrests. The majority of the 3,000 people on the march stuck to the agreed route through the village of Auchterarder. I'm sure all of you will agree that this would have been a travesty of democracy if we were not allowed to protest against the warmongers
Gill HubbardG8 Alternatives
6 July: Events as they happen
In quotes: G8 summit
Police withdrew permission for it to take place because of the unrest earlier in the day but reversed their decision after a meeting with the organisers, the G8 Alternatives, an umbrella group representing organisations such as trades unions and churches.
Some left the march at about the halfway point and walked to the security fence which rings the hotel, where US President George Bush, Prime Minister Tony Blair and other G8 leaders have taken up residence until Friday.
The protesters, some carrying banners including slogans such as "justice for all" and "make occupation history" were joined by a group who blew horns and banged drums.
One or two climbed trees close to the security fence. An American flag was thrown to the ground and set on fire. They moved along the fence and gathered at a temporary police watchtower.
Some of the protesters began throwing missiles, including wooden stakes, at the police, who responded by bringing in dogs and used their shields to charge people backwards.
Helicopter reinforcements
Reinforcements were dropped into the area by Chinook helicopters and at the outer cordon, through which protesters had passed, officers in reflective jackets and caps were replaced by colleagues in riot gear. By 1725 BST, most of the protesters who had entered the field had been moved back onto the main procession route, although some still stood facing police.
Before the march set out at 1415 BST, Gill Hubbard, of G8 Alternatives, said: "I'm sure all of you will agree that this would have been a travesty of democracy if we were not allowed to protest against the warmongers. "We're on this side of the fence, they're on that side of the fence. Which side are people on?

In pictures: Trouble breaks out

"The people of Scotland are on our side, we are going to march and we are delighted about that." Tayside Police assistant chief constable Willie Bald said: "Public safety has always been our priority. "Anyone who watched the television pictures of criminal and violent activities in Stirling this morning would understand why we have had to proceed cautiously to ensure this march could go ahead safely." Marchers proceeded through Auchterarder and most fulfilled their promise of a noisy protest "within earshot" of G8 leaders gathered at Gleneagles. BBC journalists said the atmosphere was "good-natured".
Causing trouble
In Edinburgh, hundreds of protesters said they had been prevented from leaving for Gleneagles. They organised their own march in the centre of the city and some expressed bitterness that they had not been allowed into Auchterarder. Lothian and Borders Police made 17 arrests during the day. The man in charge of Scotland's G8 police co-ordination centre said the time for playing "softball" with people intent on causing trouble was now over.

People on the march before a group broke away for the fence. Chief constable Peter Wilson said those involved in trouble had shown no interest in the rule of law. Trouble flared in the early hours after people began moving from an eco-campsite near Stirling towards the Gleneagles area. Some protesters were escorted back to the site by police in riot gear. The centre of Stirling was closed, as was the M9 at the Granada services after it was blocked by protesters. Police arrested 32 people there.
Vehicles, banks and a Burger King restaurant on the Springkerse retail park in Stirling were attacked. Rail services were also disrupted for a time, with a confrontation between police and protesters at Stirling and a temporary blockade of the rail line north of Dunblane.
Twenty police officers suffered minor injuries in confrontations. Scotland's First Minister Jack McConnell condemned the violence and accusing those involved of drawing attention away from important issues due to be discussed at the summit.
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What next!!!!!!!????
I was arrested yesterday for selling second hand clothing. At about 430 pm yesterday I was called to the gate, someone wanted to see me, there were 4 police officers standing in front of the suitcases holding the second hand clothes. Cop " who gave you permission to sell these things? " me " I did, they are mine". Cop " do you have a license?" me "no, do I need one as these are my clothes?" Cop " if you don't have a license you are under arrest" >so all the stuff was repacked into boxes and suitcases. I came inside and phoned my friends mike and Angela to tell them what was happening. Gave instructions to Dennis to look after dad as I was going to jail.Closed down my computer, had a drink, by this time the police pickup had arrived, all the stuff was packed onto the back. I was told to get onto the back of the pickup with the stuff,so off we go with me perched onto of a suitcase,as you can imagine there was quite a good audience twittering and giggling. Up at the robots the car stops, the police have seen the mealie sellers, the one sitting in the back with me, jumps off and gives chase, but the guys are long gone, so the police break down the fire, confiscate the mealiest and vegetables found around,while I was waiting it was quite funny really to see the people doing double takes at me, they expect to see blacks but not a white lady sitting amongst her goods, I took this opportunity to send a sms to Gavin and Lorna telling the news. I am being taken to the Milton Park police station. Oh yes forgot, just before I left an Asian man came to see me I have some of his work suits I was taking the embroidered name off for him., on explaining what was happening he very kindly shoved $1,8 million into my hand incase I needed to pay a hefty fine. On arrival at the police station there are Mike and Angela and Sanjay. Phew , back up, I was led into the station , and told to sit on the bench, nobody said any more to me, Angela came and sat with me. Then a policeman came and asked me where I got the clothing from , I said it was mine, I was just selling my children's stuff that they had left behind. Then Gavin phoned , a very welcome call it was too. Then I was asked if I was willing to pay a fine, an admission of guilt, I told them I was, but how much was it, the police man said something, I asked again he said $25,000. I couldn't believe my ears, is that all, my knees wanted to give way. I had imagined I would be spending the night in the dark and dingy cell amongst who knows what. So very smartly I took out the money and put it on the desk, then one of the police woman came over, she said not to worry but that I must realise how lucky I was,she took my shaking hands and held them in hers saying how cold they were , she rubbed them for me , I must say they were all very polite and sympathetic, they filled in the admission of guilt form I signed it and was told I could go, and I could take all the clothes with. Thank god for Sanjay and his truck, so quick smart we loaded up the truck and left. I couldn't get to sleep till about 1.30, then all of a sudden it hit me, stupid me in my funk had put 2x20,000 dollar notes and a 5 dollar note, so what has happened to the other $20,000 in some policeman pocket I suppose. so much for law and order. This morning Dennis tells me that the one rubbing my hands had not wanted to do anything about it, it was the other tall skinny policewoman who insisted. I was arrested under this controversial `clean up the trash` or `get rid of the seething mass of maggots` going on at the moment. I do consider myself very lucky. I asked what about people leaving the country or moving into smaller accommodation who are trying to sell their furniture or cars or whatever. "NO, nobody is allowed to sell anything unless they have a license, once they are issued with a license they will be told where they can go and sell it. I was also told they would be watching me to see if I sell anything else. So you can imagine what me nerves are like. ho hum the fun of living in this hell hole, where has our once beautifull country gone?????? By the time we got home the mealie sellers were back in place selling their wares. > >Daphne.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Cathy Buckle's Letter From Zimbabwe.

Dear Family and Friends,Three afternoons in a row I could hear what I thought was a kitten crying and stopped what I was doing to concentrate on listening and try and workout where the sound was coming from. On the fourth day, the mewling was loud and persistent and as the sun sunk into the horizon my son and I went out onto the road to see if we could find the kitten. We looked in the long dry grass for movement, in the sand for footprints and up in the trees in case the kitten was stranded. We called and listened, checked the drain under the road and culverts near gates but the plaintive crying had stopped and we could find nothing. It was almost completely dark when we got home and I stood looking out in the direction the noise had come from.The temperature was dropping dramatically, the first stars were coming outand then suddenly I saw people emerging from the bush. A woman in the background and then three young children whose clothes were very tattered, big holes in their T shirts. They were collecting something on the ground, in the dust where I had just been. I couldn't see what it was but when I moved they saw me and ran away, disappearing back into the bush.The next afternoon I did not hear the kitten crying and have not heard it again since . The woman and three children have disappeared too and I am haunted by the sound wondering if it was in fact a baby crying and not a kitten mewling. Everywhere you go, the only topic is the ongoing demolition of informal housing and we all wonder where all these hundreds of thousands of people who have been made homeless are going to go. This week thousands more were made homeless when houses on Porta Farm were demolished and four people died in that process. There are only questionsand no answers. How are these multitudes of people going to survive this winter, what are they going to eat and what hope is there of any of the children going to school. As I sit here on a very cold winter morning in Zimbabwe writing this letter the first Live 8 music concerts are underway. I do not have any hope whatsoever that even one dollar of the money raised there will go to a woman and three children who are living under a bush in a freezing Marondera winter. This woman and her babies are on the move, on the run from their own government. Who will give this woman her Live 8 dollar, which corrupt official?This week I close with the wonderful news that former Chimanimani MP Roy Bennett has been released from prison after serving 8 months of the sentence. I know that many people have signed petitions, written letters and prayed for the safe release of Mr Bennett and it has done our souls good to know that this man of the people who is so admired and respected, is safe again with his family. Until next week, with love, cathy Copyrightcathy buckle 2nd July 2005 books on the Zimbabwean crisis, "African Tears" and "Beyond Tears" areavailable from: ; ; ; in Australia and New ; Africa:

Friday, July 01, 2005



Viewpoints: Can G8 proposals help Africa?

The UK government is promoting a set of proposals to help Africa out of the poverty trap at this year's summit of the eight richest nations - the G8. The recommendations which Prime Minister Tony Blair is backing come out of a report produced by the Commission for Africa, which he established.
The commission recommended: 100% debt cancellation for the poorest nations, the doubling of aid to Africa, the removal of barriers to trade with African nations, and improved governance.
We asked eight commentators whether such steps point to the right way forward for Africa. Click on the links below to find out what they said.

"I am hopeful our recommendations will be adopted"Anna Tibaijuka, Tanzanian on Commission for Africa
"Mr Blair is doing one of the biggest disservices to the African continent"Andrew Mwenda, Monitor newspaper, Uganda
"There's a need for developing countries to be in the driving seat of their own development"Sam Danse, Ghana country programme director for Oxfam
"They want to turn Africa into a giant free-trading zone"Stuart Hodkinson, UK Red Pepper magazine
"The focus should be on strengthening civil institutions"Moeletsi Mbeki, South African Institute of International Affairs
"We've got to treat these nations like any other"Robert Whelan, UK think tank Civitas
"We should look at changing the very fundamental policies which make the rich richer, and the poor poorer"Trevor Ngwane, campaigner, South Africa
"Private investment is the best way to generate revenue"Herman Cohen, US ex-asst secretary of state for Africa