Sunday, August 28, 2005


US probes Nigeria vice-president. The US government says federal agents have raided the Maryland home of Nigerian Vice-President Atiku Abubakar. The search took place on 3 August, but officials refused to confirm reports that it was linked to raids on homes belonging to a Lousianian congressman.
William Jefferson is being investigated over the financing of a high-tech company and his properties were searched on the same day. There has been no comment on the case from Mr Abubakar. Mr Jefferson, a Democrat who has served eight terms in the House of Representatives, has come under scrutiny as the FBI looks into an international telecommunications deal.
Investigators are interested in Mr Jefferson's links with Mr Abubakar and vice-president of Ghana, Aliu Mahama, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. According to the newspaper, Mr Jefferson visited Ghana in mid-July. Mr Abubakar reportedly only uses his home in Potomac, Maryland for a couple of months each year. His wife, Jennifer, is a doctoral student in international relations at American University in Washington.

Cathy Buckle's Letter From Zimbabwe

Dear Family and Friends,
I was at the counter in a small shop in Marondera this week when an elderly woman came in clutching two bags of white sugar to her chest."Please help me" she said to the shop attendant. "Can you spare me an old newspaper or a brown paper bag to put my sugar in. It is not safe for me to walk like this." A few doors down, a small supermarket had received a truck load of sugar and people had been queuing on the pavement for most of the night.
As opening time approached, so did the bully boy queue jumpers and people who were cold, tired and hungry surged forward to try and protect their place in the line. Within minutes an orderly line had degenerated into a seething mass of pushing, shoving and shouting and then the police were there too, trying to keep order. By mid morning the pavement was completely clogged and swarming with people and the police were still there but a few at a time some were getting the chance to buy two bags of sugar. The elderly woman said that some people had been beaten and two had been hurt but there was nothing anyone could do and she was just grateful that she had got to the front and got her two precious bags of sugar.Can you imagine not feeling safe to be seen carrying a bag of suga rthrough the streets?
How absurd that life should have degenerated t othis, just five months after Zanu PF said they had won the people's mandate to rule Zimbabwe for their 25th year.This little example is a very representative picture of life here today.Everywhere people are on some sort of a desperate mission in order to survive and whole days and nights or more are sacrificed in an attempt to make the smallest of gains - a bag of sugar, litre of fuel or bottle of cooking oil.There is now an overwhelming "us and them" existence in Zimbabwe.
While luxury double cabs and top of the range Mercedes cruise our highways, ordinary family cars sit standed in unmoving fuel queues. In most fuel lines lately, the cars no longer park one behind the other, now they park side by side at an angle to stop the bully boys from pushing in. The vehicles are filthy, covered in dust and almost always driverless, guarded by youngsters who wait for days at a time on the off chance of a delivery.
Again I end on a sad note by reporting that the 37 tonnes of humanitarianaid donated by South African churches on the 1st of August remains blockedby Zimbabwean officials. Until next week, with love, cathy.
Copyrightcathy buckle 27th August 2005 http://africantears.netfirms.comMy books "African Tears" and "Beyond Tears" are available ;


Government 'wastes' African aid.

Malawi is one of the world's poorest countries. The government has been accused of wasting hundreds of thousands of pounds of African aid in Malawi. BBC Radio Five Live found £712,000 was spent in four years on hotels and meals for a project run by a US consultancy. The National Audit Office said it may mount an investigation into the use of consultants by the Department for International Development (DFID).
DFID said Malawian MPs and NGOs were the beneficiaries and efforts were being made to reduce costs. "The purpose was to debate the establishment of committees that would scrutinise the work of the Malawian government," a spokesman said. "It was also to allow the three groups to work better together to communicate what the Malawian government was doing." DFID said the expenses needed to be set against the £60m it was spending on Malawi aid projects this year.
The International Development Secretary Hilary Benn told the BBC there were occasions when it was "sensible" to use consultants, but the DFID was making efforts to reduce its costs. "We did ask them to use more Malawian staff, and they're in the process of doing that," he said. US agencies which had been brought in as consultants included the National Democratic Institute (NDI), used on a training project to improve the parliamentary committee system in Malawi.
Another US group, World Learning, were hired to distribute £4m of British money to strengthen Malawian society but the Tikambirane Programme was cancelled this year after six months at a cost of £300,000. Mr Benn said the department had become concerned about that project's administrative costs. DFID's funding priorities had also changed after the drought in Malawi which has since seen the government provide another £10m in aid, he said. "There clearly have been some problems with the projects, and where there are lessons to be learned I'm very determined that we do that," he added.
Five Live Report looked at several projects funded by the department in Malawi, which is considered to be the 10th-poorest country in the world. The £1m donated to the NDI project from US funds was used solely to pay its staff in Washington DC. Over the four years of the project, the DFID donated £3m to it. Of that, £586,423 was spent on hotels in Malawi for the MPs and the NGOs. Another £126,062 was spent on meals.
An ex-staff member said computers, notebooks and other stationery had been bought in Washington DC and flown over rather than bought locally. An NDI spokeswoman defended the spending, and said the British department had never questioned it at the time. World Learning said the whole venture was "unfortunate for all of us but most of all for the Malawian organisations which should have been helped as a result".
Patrick Watt of charity Actionaid said: "(This is) another example of aid money not really getting down to people who most urgently need to benefit from it. "It's an example of phantom aid, when what Malawi needs is real aid." Mr Watt said the large amounts of money spent of administration and overseas staff meant "there are large areas of the aid system that are in urgent need of reform".

Friday, August 26, 2005


Nigeria set for crude oil auction.

Foreign oil companies already have invested heavily in Nigeria. Nigeria is expected to announce the winners of dozens of new oil exploration contracts on Friday. Hundreds of oil firms from Asia, the US and Europe are taking part in Nigeria's first fully open oil rights auction. The plots stretch from Lake Chad in the north-east of the country to the Gulf of Guinea in its south-western corner. Firms are excited about the prospects in Nigeria - Africa's top producer and a member of oil exporter group, Opec.

They will have to pay "signature bonuses" of between $500,000 (£277,000) and $50m per land parcel should they be chosen. One corporate official described the plots as "virgin territory" with the potential for surprises.

Adding to the interest is the fact that the price of crude has surged to record levels.
Many economists are predicting that the cost of a barrel could go even higher and may even break the $100 mark. The cost has driven petrol prices up sharply in Nigeria itself, sparking calls for strikes and long queues at those filling stations which remained open.

According to the Reuters news agency, Nigeria has already awarded two firms preferential rights over five plots after they promised to invest in the country's infrastructure.
"No operator has talked railway to me, no operator has talked shipyards" said Edmund Daukoru, Minister of State for Petroleum

Foreign oil companies have been criticised for failing to improve the lot of Nigerians living near their operations. There have also been clashes with disgruntled locals and a number of kidnappings in the Niger Delta, where most of Nigeria's oilfields lie.

Minister of State for Petroleum Edmund Daukoru was robust in his defence of the decision to award the contracts to Korea National Petroleum and Chinese Petroleum of Taiwan ahead of Friday's auction, "The best bidders have not helped with our national aspirations," Mr Daukoru told Reuters in an interview.




Zimbabwe bishop trial collapses.

Bishop Nolbert Kunonga is accused of ordering rivals to be killed. The ecclesiastical trial of a Zimbabwean bishop who supports President Robert Mugabe has collapsed before any testimony was given. The Malawian Supreme Court judge who was presiding said he was withdrawing, after hours of arguments over evidence.

Nolbert Kunonga, the Anglican bishop of Harare, is accused under church law of incitement to murder, intimidation and bringing the church into contempt. Bishop Kunonga denies the accusations. He faces no criminal charges.

"I believe I will now withdraw as judge of this trial," Judge James Kalaile said, in response to the lengthy disagreements before the trial got under way. "I have not in my years as a judge in Malawi or elsewhere heard anything like this before."

He was appointed to hear the case by Archbishop Bernard Malanga, head of the Church of the Province of Central Africa, which has authority over Zimbabwe. It is not clear whether a new judge will be named.

One of the accusations against Bishop Kunonga is that he tried to get supporters of Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party to kill 10 of his opponents within the diocese. If found guilty under canon law, he could have been expelled from the church, defrocked or simply reprimanded.

Bishop Kunonga is one of the few senior churchmen in Zimbabwe not to speak out against alleged human rights abuses by the government.

Thursday, August 25, 2005


Africa to announce TB emergency.
By Ania Lichtarowicz BBC Health Correspondent.

Aids reduces the body's resistance to TB. Health Ministers from across Africa are meeting in Mozambique to discuss the growing numbers of tuberculosis (TB) cases across the region. It is expected that the World Health Organization will announce a regional tuberculosis health emergency.
The Aids epidemic is increasing the spread of TB, which affects people in their most productive years and kills some 1,500 Africans every day. TB rates are rising in both Africa and parts of eastern Europe.
Africa is particularly hit because of co-infections with HIV and a lack of health infrastructure to monitor and treat the disease. There have been no new tests or treatments for TB developed in decades. The ones that are available are difficult to administer.
Antibiotics need to be taken regularly over six months - and if an individual is carrying a multi-drug resistant strain, therapy is even harder.
The WHO hopes that by making TB a regional health emergency, it will put the disease back on the agenda.


Zimbabwe's unwanted 'foreigners'
By Justin Pearce - BBC News website, Zimbabw.

In the third part of his series following an undercover trip to Zimbabwe, Justin Pearce talks to Zimbabweans who have lost their citizenship, years after their parents or grandparents went there from neighbouring countries.

The children of non-Zimbabwean parents have lost their citizenship. It takes 10 minutes to walk from the dirt road, to the place in the bush where about 30 people are camped out. "They didn't know where to put us, because we have no rural home," one woman explains. "Our grandparents came from Malawi."

In the wake of the government's crackdown on illegal buildings and unlicensed traders, Zimbabweans of foreign parentage are finding themselves in a particularly difficult situation.The seven families living in the bush on the edge of Bulawayo have been there since their homes in the Killarney informal settlement were destroyed by the police in July. Some people were not even aware they were classified as aliens

Human rights activist

While thousands of Zimbabweans who can trace their ancestry to a Zimbabwean rural village are being transported to the countryside, those whose parents or grandparents were immigrants are left in limbo. "To say every Zimbabwean has a rural home is not true," says Alouis Chaumba, head of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe. "Some are the grandchildren of people who came here during the Federation."


In the 1950s and early 1960s, Zimbabwe - then Southern Rhodesia - was part of a federation with Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) and Nyasaland (now Malawi). People from those countries, as well as from neighbouring Mozambique, migrated to seek work - many of them on white-owned farms - in the more developed Southern Rhodesia. They and their children became integrated into Zimbabwean society, and most acquired Zimbabwean citizenship.
But a change in the citizenship law shortly before the 2002 presidential elections meant that being born in Zimbabwe no longer automatically conferred nationality. Zimbabweans who had one or both parents born outside the country were reclassified as aliens, unless they formally renounced claims to foreign nationality.

Although most observers believe the law was designed to disenfranchise whites, it also affected the status of Zimbabweans who have roots in other African countries. "Some people were not even aware they were classified as aliens," one human rights activist says. The loss of citizenship has made the future still less certain for those who have lost their homes, particularly the younger generation.


Among the older people who can remember life in another country, some feel that the best option is to go back to where they came from. "I have been working here since 1953, first as a domestic cook," says Jose, an elderly Mozambican whose home in Killarney squatter camp was destroyed two months ago. Only the oldest people still have links with neighbouring countries
"In 1970 the man I worked for left the country. After that I made a living by fishing - and then in 1984 I moved to the dump site, where business was much better." He is referring to Ngozi Mine, a dumping ground outside Bulawayo where many Killarney residents scratched out a living by recycling rubbish. "Some of my relatives went back to Chimoio, in Mozambique. I would like to go back - but I don't have the money or a passport," Jose says. "I would be so thankful if I could go back." But most of the so-called aliens have spent all their lives in Zimbabwe and have lost contact with their roots in neighbouring countries.

No options

"I was born in Harare - my parents are from Mozambique," says Patience, the 23-year-old mother of two young children. "My father came from Mozambique in 1956." The youngest have nowhere else to go She and her 19-year-old brother had been living in the Porta Farm settlement on the edge of Harare, which the government destroyed in July. From there, some people were trucked back to villages; others were dumped in the Hopley Farm resettlement area on the opposite side of the capital. For two weeks, the police denied access to humanitarian agencies who tried to bring in the food and clean water that the settlement lacked. "For those of us who had no rural home, the only option was to go to Hopley Farm," Patience says.

All names in this piece were changed to protect interviewees.


Burkina Faso's hungry herders.
By James Knight and Katrina Manson - Burkina Faso.

Balki Sa Mohamadou is two months old. His mother died because of complications during childbirth, near the village of Touka Bayel in the drought-ravaged north of Burkina Faso. Balki Sa Mohamadou faces a bleak futureA young victim of the food crisis that grips West Africa, he lives on goat's milk but has not had any for two days, because the women now looking after him are too poor to buy it regularly. Wrapped tightly to the back of his mother's younger sister, Tana Fatimata Hama, 24, he is a wide-eyed, foetal shadow of infancy.
A lethal combination of drought and locusts has savaged crops in the north of Burkina Faso, as it has done in neighbouring Niger, Mali and Mauritania. According to the World Food Programme (WFP), 1m Burkinabe are in need of food assistance. Burkina's farmers rank among the poorest in the world, but this year has seen them lose up to 90% of their harvest. As a result they have had no crops to survive on, and have sold up to 75% of their cattle to raise enough money to buy grain at inflated prices.
The lack of food is turning an already difficult existence into a desperate battle for life. "It's much harder for the villagers," says Issa Dicko Hama, 21, a trader in the market of Dori, the nearest town. "There're really facing difficulties. Millet prices [per 100kg bag] have shot up from 10,000 CFA francs ($18) to 25,000 CFA francs ($45) and animal prices have collapsed."
The double whammy has hit the Fulani herders of the region hard. They are fast running out of animals to sell. Herds of 300 have dwindled to 20, either dead from hunger, or sold for a pittance in the struggle to raise money for millet, the staple crop. The food doesn't last long, with three cows buying enough grain to last a family three days.
"People are ill; they can't eat," says Boukoum Hama Ousmane, 62, the senior elder of Touka Bayel. "Husbands have fled." He says many men have left for war-torn Ivory Coast, where an estimated 3m Burkinabe earn their crust, to look for work and food on cocoa and cotton plantations. Claris Zongo, nurse "There's war there but if you want to eat you can. We've been given a little only. It's not been enough." The WFP in Burkina Faso has requested an additional $1.4m to deal with the crisis. But money won't stop the same thing from happening again. "Somebody has got to resolve the problem of mounting food prices and falling animal prices in the long term," says Ali Ouattara, who runs the WFP's regional office in Dori.
"They have to bring them together to create a balance." The wet season brings its own problems. Like other villages in the region, Touka Bayel is remote, hidden at the end of rutted dirt tracks that twist to nothing. Heavy rains turn the roads of the Sahel into quagmires that hold trucks fast, hampering the relief effort and prompting the WFP to distribute six months' emergency rations to health centres, instead of three. The normally sandy streets of Dori are still awash with last week's thunderous downpour.
The hospital and other buildings in the town have become islands amid lakes of stagnant water, breeding grounds for malaria. Although the rains have sent millet stalks thrusting skywards, the harvest will not be ready for another month. There is not enough fodder for the remaining cattleIn the meantime, Touka Bayel, and other villages across northern Burkina Faso, must hang on. Villagers are surviving on a diet of wild grass and milk from the few animals that remain. Many are too tired to work in the fields, at a vital time in the cultivating season. Illness has soared, but the health centre stays empty.
"People don't come here anymore," says Claris Zongo, a nurse there. "People have malaria but they have no money and nothing to eat. People die in their homes." Balki's surrogate mother begins the long walk home, without the medicine that she cannot afford

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


US sees full relations with Libya.

Col Muammar Gaddafi has invited US President George Bush to visit. The US has suggested it could restore full diplomatic relations with Libya if Tripoli addresses concerns over democracy and its human rights record. The US state department said if Tripoli made continued progress, it would "meet their acts of good faith in return". US officials are negotiating opening an embassy in Tripoli and Libya's removal from a list of state terror sponsors.

The countries have been rebuilding ties since Libya gave up the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction in 2003. Diplomatic relations were formally resumed in June 2004, when the US opened a liaison office - a lower-level diplomatic post - in Tripoli. A two-day visit to Tripoli at the weekend by a senior US senator has been seen as the next step in improving the relationship, following decades of hostility. Senator Richard Lugar confirmed the US was discussing Libya's removal from a US list of alleged state sponsors of terrorism and the opening of an embassy.

If they continue to make progress along the pathway that we have laid out, we, again, will meet their acts of good faith in return - Sean McCormackUS State Department spokesman.Mr Lugar's trip prompted Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi to extend an invitation to US President George W Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to visit next. Meanwhile Mr Gaddafi's son, Seif al-Islam Gaddafi, told the AFP news agency on Monday he expected to see the two countries reopen embassies "in the next few days". But US state department spokesman Sean McCormack said that while relations between the countries had been "dramatically different" since 2003, Libya still had more to do.

Tony Blair's high-profile visit to Libya marked a thaw in relations'"We are engaged with them on a variety of issues. You mentioned human rights, you mentioned democracy, you mentioned issues of terrorism," he told reporters. "If they continue to make progress along the pathway that we have laid out, we, again, will meet their acts of good faith in return." Relations started to improve after Libya accepted responsibility in 2003 for the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am plane over Lockerbie, in Scotland, and agreed to pay $2.7bn compensation.

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair held high-profile talks with Mr Gaddafi in a Bedouin tent on the outskirts of Tripoli in March 2004. The reconciliation was eased by Libya's offer to cooperate in investigating the murder of policewoman Yvonne Fletcher outside the Libyan embassy in London in April 1984. Libya's relations with France, strained by its alleged involvement in the bombing of a French airliner in 1989, were restored after Tripoli agreed to pay $170m in compensation.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


Venezuela to seize 'idle' firms
By Iain Bruce BBC News in Caracas

Hugo Chavez broadcast his plan from a re-opened cocoa factory.The Venezuelan government has warned it will confiscate hundreds of private companies that are lying idle if they fail to re-open. President Hugo Chavez said the firms' workers would be given help to set up co-operatives and re-start production for the benefit of the community. He said the move was needed to fight poverty and end Venezuela's dependence on "the perverse model of capitalism".
Some business leaders fear it may lead to a wider attack on private property.

President Hugo Chavez"It's against our constitution," he said. "Just as we cannot permit good land to lie uncultivated, so we cannot allow perfectly productive factories to stay closed." The Venezuelan leader said that more than 700 companies in the country were idle. Of these, 136 were being examined for possible expropriation and a small number were already in the process of being taken over, he said.

The president's TV show was broadcast from a cocoa-processing plant in eastern Venezuela, which is re-opening as a workers' co-operative after shutting down nine years ago. But Mr Chavez did hold out an olive branch to employers. He said more than 1,000 firms in Venezuela had partially closed down simply because of economic difficulties. "We want to work with you to help restore your production," he told company owners.

Venezuelan business leaders have expressed concern that government policies on land reform and co-management in industry could signal the beginning of a wider attack on private property. Earlier on Sunday, Venezuela's most senior Roman Catholic Cardinal, Rosalio Castillo, accused the president of acquiring dictatorial powers. But in his broadcast, Mr Chavez again insisted that Venezuelans have a clear choice.

"Either capitalism, which is the road to hell, or socialism, for those who want to build the kingdom of God here on Earth," he said.





Kenya's saint candidate exhumed. Maurice Otunga became a cardinal in 1973. Church officials have secretly exhumed the body of Kenya's first Catholic cardinal, Maurice Otunga, whom they plan to nominate for sainthood. The body was exhumed by night to avoid a confrontation with the cardinal's ethnic group, which blocked an earlier attempt to move his remains. Elders from the Bukusu people feared the exhumation could trigger a curse.

The church plans to re-bury the body in a mausoleum in a Nairobi suburb where former Pope John Paul II held a mass. "We are planning to rebury him in Resurrection Gardens in Karen - where the Church plans to build a chapel - as soon as we finish consultations," Archbishop Ndingi Mwana a'Nzeki told the AFP news agency. The agency quoted another church official as saying the body was disinterred during the night because "we didn't want trouble".

Archbishop Mwana a'Nzeki said the cardinal should be re-buried in a manner that befits a man regarded as a saint by many Kenyan Catholics. He said the Kenyan church would soon seek the Vatican's approval to start investigations into whether Cardinal Otunga is a worthy candidate for sainthood. A Catholic quoted by Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper voiced sadness at the manner of the exhumation.

"This was an honourable person... He should have been exhumed in a ceremony by the church." Maurice Otunga became Kenya's first cardinal in 1973 under the papacy of Pope Paul VI. He died aged 80 in September 2003.




S.A. policeman on trial for torture.

Maureen Mnisi was among those allegedly assaulted. A South African policeman is on trial over the alleged torture of four detainees during the 2004 elections. The case follows the detention of activists from the Landless People's Movement, who had demonstrated on polling day, 14 April.
Simangaliso Patrick Simelane, head of Crime Intelligence Services at a Soweto police station, faces assault charges. He has not yet entered a plea.

Two women say they were suffocated with a rubber sheet inside a police cell. The four are among a group of 52 who still face charges in connection with the demonstration. No other charges have been laid in the case, though lawyers for the four plaintiffs say that other police officers were also present during the incident.

Four-day trial
Maureen Mnisi, chair of the Landless People's Movement in Gauteng province, was detained at the police station overnight together with activists Ann Eveleth, Samantha Hargreaves and Moses Mahlangu. This followed an election day demonstration intended to draw attention to the situation of landless people in South Africa.





First kittens for cloned wildcats.
By Richard Black BBC News website environment correspondent.

Eight wildcat kittens have been born at the Audubon Center from three cloned parents. A conservation institute in the United States has produced wildcat kittens by cross-breeding cloned adults. The Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species says this is the first time that clones of a wild species have bred.

Eight kittens have been born in two litters over the last month, and all are apparently doing well. The researchers say this development holds enormous potential for preserving a range of endangered species.

Kofi Annan off to Niger

I see that Kofi Annan is going to Niger to discuss the food shortage.
He is to be there for 2 days and will be meeting various people and
visiting feeding centers and a hospital. That is good news........





Monday, August 22, 2005


Somalia's violence 'catastrophic.'

Most of the victims of Somalia's violence are women and children.......!!!!!????
The lives of Somalis continue to be blighted by a "catastrophic" level of daily violence and "brutality", says a report by a medical charity. Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) says that in the town of Galcayo alone, it has treated more than 500 victims of violence this year. It runs two hospitals in the town, which is divided into two areas, controlled by rival warlords.

Somalia has not had a functioning national government for 14 years......

A transitional parliament was sworn in on 22 August 2004 but this has failed to end the anarchy. Its northern Galcayo hospital, MSF treated 224 people for gunshots, 135 for knife wounds and another 38 from physical assault in the first six months of 2005. It treated 106 people for gunshot wounds between January and March in its hospital in the south.

Facts and figures about life in Somalia.

Most of the victims are women and children............!!!!!!!

MSF says that Somalia has one of the worst rates of child mortality in the world. More than 10% of children die at birth and 25% of those who survive perish before they are five, the aid agency says. "The suffering of the Somali people has received little attention from aid organisations and the international community," MSF says.

Galcayo is on the frontline between the semi-autonomous region of Puntland and the rest of Somalia but there have not been organised attempts by either sides to attack the other for several years. "The frightening fact is that Somalia is officially not even at war," explains the MSF head of mission in Galcayo, Colin Mcllreavy. "This level of violence is simply a reflection of the brutality of everyday life for the people living in this country. Extreme violence has become a part of daily existence and the effect on the population is catastrophic."

A year after hopes were raised by the inauguration of a new parliament, many analysts fear that this attempt to bring peace to Somalia will fail like 13 previous peace processes. The government has split into two camps over where it should be based after leaving Kenya. President Abdullahi Yusuf says the capital, Mogadishu, is too dangerous and has set up in Jowhar. However, a group of ministers, MPs and ex-warlords led by speaker of parliament Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden insist that the government must be based in the capital.

Three months after leaving Kenya to return to Somalia, Mr Yusuf, Mr Aden and Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Gedi are all back in Nairobi.


Dumped in Zimbabwe's poor villages.
By Justin Pearce - BBC News website, Zimbabwe.

In the second of his series following an undercover trip to Zimbabwe, Justin Pearce reports that the government's policy of moving city dwellers to rural areas is worsening the effects of food shortages.

Thomas and Charity have no means of making a living after being taken out of the city.For Thomas and his wife, Charity, it was not a happy homecoming. In fact, it was not really a homecoming at all. The Zimbabwean government had decided that the young couple belonged in a village deep in the dry bush of Matabeleland North province, in western Zimbabwe. Thomas was born there, but had not lived there since childhood. His ageing grandmother is his only relative still living in the village. "They were not pleased to receive us since we came empty-handed," Thomas said. "They are in a difficult situation with drought. It was a difficult moment for them." The United Nations estimates that up to four million Zimbabweans will need food aid over the coming year - mostly in rural areas. Thomas, 23, and Charity, 21, had made a living as informal traders in a squatter camp in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city, some 200 km away. That came to an end in July, when the government's Operation Murambatsvina [Drive Out Rubbish] reached the place where they were living.

The villages are an alien environment to people born and bred in the cities"We were harassed by police who destroyed our shack - that's why we had to come to this place," Thomas said. "The police said there was too much filth in this city." The story he tells is typical of the unknown numbers of Zimbabwean city dwellers who have been dumped in country districts where they have few useful survival skills. Zimbabwean humanitarian staff say that after destroying homes in the cities and moving people into transit camps, the government assigned people to rural areas on the basis of their identity numbers. On the identity cards carried by all Zimbabwean citizens, the first few digits form a code for the bearer's home area. This, however, reflects one's ancestral home rather than one's own birthplace. They want total political control - they want to peasantify people like Pol Pot Archbishop Pius Ncube"Some don't want to go home because they have nothing there," says a Zimbabwean who is involved in church-based relief efforts. "Some may be the second or third generation to be born in the cities. There are some Zimbabweans who don't have a rural area."

The government's critics believe that the relocations are part of a strategy to reassert control over urban people who have voted overwhelmingly for the opposition in recent elections. "They want total political control - they want to peasantify people like [former Cambodian leader] Pol Pot - force them into they country so they can control them," says the Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube. People have become dependent on aid from churches"In the countryside they have no newspaper or radio except Zanu-PF propaganda, and they are controlled by the chiefs, who support the government." Thomas and Charity were forced onto a truck which took them out of Bulawayo, then a local bus, and ended up walking for several hours through the bush. They say they received no food during the journey. Charity says she did not even have a chance to say goodbye to her own family: "Since I came here they don't know I'm here. I want to go and tell them where I am."

The relocations from cities to villages have affected thousands throughout Zimbabwe. At just one church in Harare, charity workers have compiled a list of 700 people who have lost their homes and are looking for food and blankets. Churches have counted hundreds of people who are to be transportedMadeleine, 29, was born in Harare but is being sent to the district of Murewa, her husband's birthplace, about 70km from the city. "We are going because we have nowhere to live, no way to survive here," she says. Asked whether her husband has land to farm there, she shakes her head. "Sometimes we were helping my husband's family by sending money," Madeleine says. "My in-laws are having a problem with drought - there's been no rain this year." With their livelihood as informal traders destroyed, Madeleine, her husband and their three young children will now be a burden on the rural community to which they used to provide financial support.

All names in this piece were changed to protect interviewees

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Cathy Buckle's Letter From Zimbabwe.

Dear Family and Friends,
This week, again, everyone outside the country was talking about the possibility of our two main political parties taIking about talks. The Nigerian President appointed the ex Mozambican President to try and get Zimbabwe to talk about talks. The South African government then denied that they were using talks as a condition for financial aid and a few days later said they were not going to talk about talks, or insist on talks or even suggest talks, as it was clear that no one actually wanted to talk anyway. It got more and more confusing by the day!
Mid week some international news stations said that it looked like talks were going to happen and those of us at home groaned, yawned sceptically and waited for the rhetoric which we knew was coming and sure enough followed shortly afterwards. In a couple of angry, hissy, podium banging speeches, it was all over. It is now official, yet again, that there are not going to beany talks between Zanu PF and the MDC. Those of us living in Zimbabwe know that it doesn't actually matter who asks, begs, pleads, cajoles or insists on talks between President Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, they are just not going to happen. President Mugabe continues to insist that the MDC is a British sponsored party containing sellouts and puppets and that he will not talk to them. It is apparently of no consequence that Zanu PF cannot resolve the problems crippling the country, they will be damned if they will let anyone else try, and so we plod on.
I was going to say that after all this talking about mythical talks we would now get back to normal but that would be nonsense because nothing is normal here. New taxes have just been announced to raise money to rebuild the houses that the government just knocked down. Official inflation roseto 254% in July and parliament is about to change the constitution to remove the right of appeal from people whose land is seized. Another change being proposed would give the government the power to refuse passports to some people if it was in the "national interest."
While all this became common knowledge, the Botswana President Festus Mogae defendedthe SADC's inactivity by saying: "The problems of Zimbabwe are not my priority. We consult with Zimbabwe and we advise Zimbabwe in confidence. That's all we do, that's all we can do and that's all we are prepared to do." So, there it is, we are on our own, there will be no talks, noconditions on financial loans and no criticism from African governments.I end on a very sad note with something else that became common knowledge this week. Almost a month after ordinary South African people reached out to Zimbabweans affected by Operation Restore Order, their goodwill is still sitting at the border. Trucks loaded with 37 tons of humanitarian aid including blankets, maize meal, cooking oil and beans are sitting unmoving in the sun at the border as red tape, bureaucracy and officialdom prevent it from being allowed into Zimbabwe. I believe that when the trucks were filled and sealed on the 1st of August, they were blessed by the South African Anglican Archbishop but even divine intervention has not helped and so the poorest of Zimbabwe's poor continue to suffer in silence.
Until next week, with love, cathy. Copyright cathy buckle 20 August 2005 My books "African Tears" and"Beyond Tears" are available from: ; ; ; in Australia and NewZealand: ; Africa:


The Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, was 312,2 m high when it was first built.
An antenna brings it up to 318.7 m. There are 1665 steps up to the top!


Call for ban on Zimbabwe cricket.

Cricket's governing body has been urged to act against Mugabe. Zimbabwe should be barred from competing in international cricket events say senior British ministers. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell have written to the sport's governing body calling for a boycott. The two cabinet members drew attention to the worsening human rights abuses in Zimbabwe in a letter to the International Cricketing Council (ICC). They want the ICC to send out a strong message to President Robert Mugabe. Their letter asks "if the ICC could reflect on the current situation and take a view on whether or not they see international cricket fixtures against and/or in Zimbabwe to be appropriate while such widespread human rights abuses are taking place".

President Mugabe's regime has attracted widespread condemnation for its 'Drive Out Rubbish' slum clearance programme which has seen 700,000 people lose their homes. Government crackdown The Zimbabwean government claims it is cracking down on black market trading and other criminal activities in the slum areas.

But opponents suggest it is a punishment campaign against urban residents who rejected Mugabe in recent elections. The British government was criticised last year for failing to prevent the England cricket team's tour of Zimbabwe. But the government maintained it had not supported the trip but was unable to act against it because they could have been sued. Both the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives have questioned the timing of the government's intervention.

The government wants to send a powerful signal to Mugabe. Shadow Foreign Secretary Liam Fox described the handling of the problems in Zimbabwe as "nothing short of pathetic". He said: "Tony Blair's government has done virtually nothing to protest to China, Zimbabwe's largest investor, or South Africa, its strongest ally, about their support for Mugabe."

The Liberal Democrats' foreign affairs spokesman Sir Menzies Campbell was broadly supportive of the letter to the ICC but wondered why they were concerned only with cricket. "Zimbabwe has a large number of other international affiliations in a variety of sports," he said.


IMF economic team visits Zimbabwe.

Will Zimbabwean President Mugabe be smiling after the IMF visit?The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is making a crucial visit to Zimbabwe on Monday, ahead of a meeting over whether to expel the nation.
The IMF will decide in September if it is to eject the African state for falling $295m (£164m; 243m euros) in arrears in its debt payments.
Earlier in August, South Africa agreed to try and help Zimbabwe's economy.
But Zimbabwe's dollar fell to a new low against the US dollar this week, down 23% to 24,025.31 against the greenback.
Black market
Zimbabwe Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono revealed the visit in the state-controlled Herald newspaper on Friday.
"The nation should not despair but should rededicate itself to responsible behaviour, particularly when it comes to the setting or review of prices of goods and services in the economy," he said.
In a bid to crack down on what the government said was a flourishing black market, the Zimbabwean authorities embarked on an urban clean-up campaign in June - which coincided with the last IMF visit.
A recent United Nations report said 700,000 Zimbabweans had been left homeless or jobless by the operation, which the government said was aimed at getting rid of illegal buildings and businesses.
The South African government earlier this month agreed in principle to an aid package to Zimbabwe.
However, it said any bailout would have to be "within the context of their programme of economic recovery and political normalisation".
South Africa also intimated it may look at taking over the country's debt to the IMF as a means of preventing expulsion.
Exchange boycott
Zimbabwe has fallen behind in its IMF repayments since 2001, and in June the IMF urged it to take "decisive action" to lower its deficit, which has been put at 17-22% of GDP by some economists.
"A rebuilding of relations with the international community is a critical part of the effort to reverse the economic decline," the IMF said on its return from the June visit.
On Tuesday finance minister Herbert Murerwa submitted a supplementary budget to parliament, including new taxes.
On Friday brokers continued their boycott of the Zimbabwean stock market, which trades 79 listed local companies, to protest at plans for a 10% withholding tax on all deals.
Meanwhile on Friday, it was revealed that at a "managed auction" conducted by the nation's central bank a day before, the official rate for the Zimbabwe dollar, worth US$2 at independence in 1980, slid from 18,003 to 24,025 to the dollar.


Secret film of Zimbabwe 'squalor'.

Watch secret footage Amnesty International has released a secretly-shot film from Zimbabwe, showing what it says is the squalid aftermath of Harare's slum clearances.
The clearances have left about 700,000 people without their homes or livelihoods, according to UN estimates.
The human rights group said its film showed people made homeless and then dumped at an informal site.
The images, shot in August, depict a makeshift camp and people queuing up for water at the site near Harare.
Amnesty said people there had to cope with shortages of food and clean water.
The site may have housed up to 2,000 people, it said.

Evictees living in fear
But the organisation said it feared the problem could be widespread, urging the government to say whether other areas like the site shown on the film existed in other parts of the country.
The government in Zimbabwe describes its drive as an urban renewal campaign designed to cut crime and curb illegal development.
It says last month's UN report - which said a total of 2.4m people had been affected in some way - is biased and exaggerated.
'Secretly dumped'
Amnesty said the film was shot at Hopley Farm on the outskirts of Harare on 4 August and then smuggled out of the country.
It said the images showed people who lost their homes during Operation Murambatsvina (Drive Out Trash) and who were initially taken to the so-called transit camps.
But the organisation said that such camps in Harare and also Bulawayo were closed following the damning UN report.
The government of Zimbabwe is compounding suffering and human rights violations by attempting to hid the most visible signs of internal displacement
Audrey GaughranAmnesty International
"The people who had been in those transit camps were taken under cover of darkness and dumped at various rural areas in the country," Amnesty International researcher Audrey Gaughran said.
"They were left in most cases with no shelter, no food, no access to sanitation and little or no access to clean water.
"Rather than confront the massive humanitarian crisis that its actions have created, the government of Zimbabwe is compounding suffering and human rights violations by attempting to hid the most visible signs of internal displacement," she added.
Ms Gaughran said that since the footage was shot, aid groups had been able to persuade the government to grant them access to the Hopley Farm site.


Saturday, August 20, 2005




Living in fear after Harare evictions.
By Justin Pearce BBC News website, Zimbabwe.

In the first of his series following an undercover trip to Zimbabwe, Justin Pearce reports that the evictions of slum-dwellers in the capital, Harare, are continuing, despite an international outcry.
Demolitions have continued in the last few weeks. The skin on the young child's face is cracked and blistered from exposure to the wind and the cold nights. "We stayed outside without shelter, until we started to build shelters," his mother, Beatrice explains. They were evicted on 28 July from the Porta Farm settlement on the edge of Harare and transported to Hopley Farm on the opposite side of the capital. Beatrice, her husband and their three children were among the estimated 10,000 people who were dumped without food, shelter or water in Hopley Farm, which was set up in the latest phase of the government's crackdown on dwellings that the authorities say are illegal.
The government says it intends to turn Hopley Farm into a permanent settlement, and has promised basic building materials. The dwellers were moved to Hopley Farm shortly after the visit to Harare by UN envoy Anna Tibaijuka, who issued a report sharply critical of the government's Operation Murambatsvina [Drive Out Rubbish]. The government has said that evictions have been suspended but in Harare, there are signs that the authorities have no intention of stopping, despite the international outcry.
Demolitions continue.
In the Epworth suburb, black crosses painted on the walls of houses mark the houses that are still awaiting demolition. While the earlier demolitions were carried out with little or no prior notice, the painting of black crosses indicates that some of the houses have been given a temporary reprieve thanks to a court ruling that the demolitions did not follow the proper procedures. We can't even pray. The moment we gather together we are called by the police.
Joan, 48Hopley Farm resident "When the first demolitions were done they were challenged by some people. The law says you must give three months' notice and a reason. Now they have been given notice for 30 September," a Zimbabwean humanitarian worker told the BBC News website.
In one neighbourhood alone, 2,000 houses are said to have been condemned. Nevertheless, demolitions continued well into the month of August, with the residents getting little or no notice. "Houses were demolished last week. It continued after the envoy [Dr Tibaijuka] left," the aid worker added. "All this happened the week before last," said one elderly landlady, indicating the pile of rubble in her back yard where she had previously rented rooms out to lodgers.
Evicted twice .
The eviction from Porta Farm has left Beatrice and her neighbours bewildered, since they had been instructed to settle there following an earlier round of evictions in the early 1990s when the government decided to clean up Harare's townships ahead of a Commonwealth conference and a visit by Queen Elizabeth II. A woman lost all her income after the evictions."They said: 'You have been building where you are not allowed', but they were the ones who took us to Porta Farm in the first place," Beatrice said. While at Porta Farm, Beatrice had a job at a paper-making project that had been set up by foreign donors. All that came to nothing when the bulldozers moved in. "The project, the building and our equipment were destroyed," she said. Beatrice no longer has an income, and her husband is also unemployed. "My oldest daughter was at school, but she has been out of school since the clean-up operation started."
Aid barred.
International humanitarian staff say the government barred them access to Hopley Farm for 10 days after the settlement was established. This meant that humanitarian assistance was late in coming, a delay that proved fatal in at least one case. Some children have become ill from being exposed to the elements "We got tanks of water from Unicef [on 12 August]," says Joan, 48. "Previously we had been taking stagnant water from the river. Some people have been complaining of stomach problems, and there is no clinic. "Someone died - a young woman with two children. The children are now with their grandparents, who don't have the means to look after them," Joan says. Clean water, blankets and foodstuffs are now starting to arrive, but residents say the government is using the donor aid for its own ends. "The government welfare department is interfering," says Miriam, 45. "They say the food is from them but it's really from the donors." The camp remains under constant surveillance. I was unable to gain access to the site, but interviewed residents in a safe location. "Right now we are living in fear. We are living with guards and police in plain clothes, and all sorts of people we don't know," Joan says.
Authorities had initially obstructed aid efforts to Hopley Farm"Any vehicle from a church or non-governmental organisation is not allowed in. We can't even pray. The moment we gather together we are called by the police. "Every time we go to get firewood we are rounded up. The place is almost a desert. We are cooking by burning maize stalks and leaves," Joan says.
"Right now they are putting fear in us," Miriam adds. "They are beating people up at night.They are saying if you do anything mysterious we'll remove you or beat you up."

All names in this piece were changed to protect interviewees.


Swazi king drops sex-ban tassels.

The ban was very unpopular with young Swazis.Swaziland's King Mswati III has ended a five-year sex ban he imposed on the kingdom's teenage girls a year early. The girls have had to wear large woollen tassels as a sign of their chastity since 2001. These are to be burnt in a huge ceremony on Tuesday.
The sex ban was imposed to fight the spread of HIV/Aids. Swaziland has one of the world's highest HIV infection rates, at about 40% of the population. The king fined himself a cow for breaking the ban by marrying again. He took a 17-year-old girl as his ninth wife just two months after imposing the sex-ban in September 2001, sparking unprecedented protests by Swazi women outside the royal palace.
Meanwhile, the health ministry has released new figures which show that 29% of Swazis aged 15-19 are HIV positive. For pregnant women, the figures were 42%. No official reason has been given about why the sex ban was ended a year early.
The BBC's Thulani Mthethwa in Swaziland says the ban was very unpopular with young Swazis.
King Mswati has been criticised for his lavish lifestyleHe says that few girls in urban areas wore the tassels, known as "umchwasho". If propositioned by a man, the girls were supposed to throw the tassels outside his house and his family would have to pay a fine of a cow. But many Swazis were unhappy that King Mswati's daughters were rarely seen wearing the tassels.
But our correspondent says that in rural areas, the tassels were common because the ban was enforced by local chiefs and some schools insisted that girls wore them to get a place.
"I have it in command from his majesty to order all the national flowers [virgins] to converge on Ludzidzini [royal palace] on Sunday so that they can drop the woollen tassels on Monday," said a spokeswoman for Swaziland's girls, Nkhonto Dlamini, in a broadcast on national radio.
King Mswati now has 12 wives and another fiancee. His late father, King Sobhuza II, who led the country to independence in 1968, had more than 70 wives when he died in 1982.



1. A US Patent has been granted for a "toy gas-fired missile and launcher assembly" (US patent 6,055,910). The gas in question? Colonic gas generated by the user.
2. The Duchess of Kent teaches children to rap.
3. The bikini-clad woman in the iPod adverts does not own one - she hasn't the money.
4. Urine was once made into ammonia to remove stains from laundry.
5. In the 1930s, a German inventor tried to deliver mail by rocket to one of the most remote parts of the UK, the tiny island of Scarp in the Outer Hebrides. Commemorative stamps were issued. But it ended in failure when the rocket exploded.
6. It takes a gallon of oil to make three fake fur coats.
7. Media studies is more popular than physics among A-level students.
8. Each successive monarch faces in a different direction on British coins.
9. White was the colour chosen for the Queen Mother's White Wardrobe - currently on show at Buckingham Palace - because she was in mourning for her mother at the time.
10. There's a sin of sinomy - to conduct financial transactions involving spiritual goods which Lincoln Cathedral had been accused of over the making of the Da Vinci Code movie.

Friday, August 19, 2005


Leaving behind Zimbabwe's land. - By Grant Ferrett BBC News.

For Lewis, a softly-spoken commercial farmer living west of Harare, it's the $100m question - will he still be able to farm in Zimbabwe in five years' time? New farmers often have little business knowledge and few assetsNow five years into the government's land redistribution programme, he says he is taking things year by year. "I feel sometimes that maybe I should stop at the end of the next season. Let's wait and see." Reflecting his mood of caution, Lewis has cut back by a quarter the production of his main money earner, tobacco. He also finds he's distracted from running his own business by requests for help from his new farming neighbours.

It's just pure jealousy. They see what I have on the farm and wonder why I have it says Lewis, a black commercial farmerHundreds of people have been resettled on the farms surrounding Lewis, most of them illegally. They often have little business knowledge of farming and few assets. Lewis lends tractors, ploughs fields and even provides basic lessons in agronomy. But in spite of all the assistance he provides, Lewis thinks some of his neighbours want to bring him down. But I've been in many difficult situations and I've learned to put on a thick skin." Instead of being harassed, Lewis could reasonably expect to be a role model for the Zimbabwean authorities. That is because Lewis is a highly successful black commercial farmer.

When I first interviewed him more than five years ago, he explained how he hoped to set an example for other would-be farmers. Lewis was forced to attend Zanu-PF rallies"I need to live an exemplary farming life," he told me. Now he's considering leaving farming altogether. He's not only worried for his business, but for his personal safety. In March, during the parliamentary election campaign, he was forced to attend rallies in support of President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party. As someone who bought his farm long before the government began seizing white-owned land without paying compensation, Lewis thinks he is viewed with suspicion. Five years ago I interviewed him at home on the veranda of his large farmhouse. This time he preferred to meet in the anonymity of a parked car in the suburbs of Harare. Lewis is not his real name.

One of his former neighbours, John, who also didn't want to be identified, moved into Harare three years ago after being forced off his farm. As a white man in Africa if you get involved in politics your days are numbered "My grandfather built our home in 1921. Then, one weekend, the police gave us 48 hours to get off. "They had no paperwork. It was mind-numbing. But a threat's a threat. "On the back of six or seven farmers being shot in the previous months, we decided to leave." In spite of the upheaval, John still believes there's a future for him and other white ex-farmers in Zimbabwe. "My feeling is that if you keep your nose clean and decide that as a white man in Africa you're here to make money and provide development, then you'll be able to stay. "But if you get involved in politics - then no - your days are numbered."

Another former neighbour, Rob, has joined the exodus of millions of Zimbabweans who've left the country over the past five years. He and his wife and four children have moved to the thriving coastal town of Mackay in Queensland, Australia. Here in Australia the biggest worry is whether the washing will be dry. They have a large house close to the beach and are particularly pleased that in contrast to the electrified fences and security alarms of their previous home Zimbabwe; in Australia they can leave all their doors unlocked. "When you see what we've got here and the friends we've made, there's no way I'd go back to that nonsense in Zimbabwe," says Rob. His wife, Anna, agrees. "It was just the uncertainty of not knowing what was going to happen next. Here the biggest worry is whether the washing will be dry."

Back in Zimbabwe, on the day I spoke to Lewis he was arranging to meet his daughter, who is now studying in Australia. Lewis suspects that even if he is able to carry on farming in Zimbabwe, there's no future in the country for his daughter. He recently employed an armed guard to protect his cattle after six of his herd were stolen in a single night. "Land reform was necessary, but not in the way it has been done," he says. "It wasn't an economic decision, it was a political one."


Big game 'could roam US plains'.

The animals would fill a void in the ecosystem. If a group of US researchers have their way, lions, cheetahs, elephants and camels could soon roam parts of North America, Nature magazine reports. The plan, which is called Pleistocene re-wilding, is intended to be a proactive approach to conservation. The initiative would help endangered African animals while creating jobs, the Cornell University scientists say. Evidence also suggests, they claim, that "megafauna" can help maintain ecosystems and boost biodiversity. "If we only have 10 minutes to present this idea, people think we're nuts," said Harry Greene, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Cornell University, US. "But if people hear the one-hour version, they realise they haven't thought about this as much as we have. Right now we are investing all our megafauna hopes on one continent - Africa."

During the Pleistocene era - between 1.8 million to about 10,000 years ago - North America was home to a myriad of mega fauna. Gaining public acceptance is going to be a huge issue, especially when you talk about reintroducing predators Josh Donlan, Cornell UniversityOnce, American cheetah (Acinonyx trumani) prowled the plains hunting pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) - an antelope-like animal found throughout the deserts of the American Southwest - and Camelops, an extinct camelid, browsed on arid land.

But man's arrival on the continent - about 13,000 ago, according to one prevalent theory - pushed many of these impressive creatures to extinction. Their disappearance left glaring gaps in the complex web of interactions, upon which a healthy ecosystem depends. The pronghorn, for example, has lost its natural predator and only its startling speed - of up to about 60mph - hints at its now forgotten foe.

By introducing living counterparts to the extinct animals, the researchers say, these voids could be filled. So, by introducing free-ranging African cheetahs to the Southwest, strong interactions with pronghorns could be restored, while providing cheetahs with a new habitat.




Zimbabwe to speed up land seizure.

Legal battles have slowed down the transfer of land to new farmers. Zimbabwe's government has tabled a constitutional amendment bill to speed up the acquisition of white-owned land. The proposals would nationalise all land and stop appeals to the courts. Some 4,000 white farmers have been evicted from their land since 2000, but the government says legal battles are slowing up the transfer of ownership.

President Robert Mugabe's party gained the two-thirds parliamentary majority needed for constitutional change in March's disputed elections. Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, who introduced the bill to parliament, told the AFP news agency that the legislation would "conclude the land question". We need fundamental economic changes. Other proposed constitutional amendments include the creation of an upper house of parliament, the senate and bringing all schools under state control. Authorities would also be able to confiscate passports and impose travel bans on people thought to pose a risk to state interests.

Earlier on Thursday, nine opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) MPs marched through the capital, Harare, protesting about the amendments, in defiance of a government ban. Police warned members of the public not to join in, Associated Press reports. "Laws which deprive one of their passport are only found in countries like North Korea," MDC MP David Coltart said, calling the proposed legislation "draconian and retrogressive". Zimbabwe is beset with shortages of food, fuel and foreign currency, and rampant unemployment and inflation.

Some 4m Zimbabweans need food aid. The country needs $300m to repay its debts or it faces expulsion from the IMF. South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki has indicated that he would be inclined to help out. But earlier this week his deputy foreign minister said South Africa wanted to see economic reforms including getting agricultural productivity back on track. "We are negotiating in the... broad context that we need fundamental economic changes," Aziz Pahad said.

According to economist John Robertson, the land seizures have cost Zimbabwe's government $1.2bn in tobacco production and exports. Government critics blame Zimbabwe's economic problems on the land reform programme. The government blames food shortages on drought and economic sabotage by Western countries, led by the UK, opposed to land reform.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


S African unions want Zuma back.

Mr Zuma denies any wrong doing. South Africa's main trade union group has called on the president to drop corruption charges against his former deputy, Jacob Zuma, and reinstate him.
Cosatu General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said Mr Zuma would not get a fair trial in South Africa. Mr Zuma was sacked in June after his financial advisor was found guilty of corruption in deals linked to him.
Cosatu is officially part of South Africa's ruling alliance but has been increasingly unhappy with the ANC. Before the corruption scandal, Mr Zuma was seen as favourite to succeed President Thabo Mbeki and correspondents say he remains one of South Africa's most popular politicians.
BBC Southern Africa correspondent Barnaby Phillips says many people in Cosatu see Mr Zuma as a champion of the poor and the unemployed, whose lives have not improved under Mr Mbeki, despite South Africa's economic growth.
Cosatu says it will hold mass demonstrations outside the court if Mr Zuma is ever brought to trial. Shaik's trial prompted a new inquiry into Mr Zuma's conduct It has established a trust fund to help pay for his defence. "It is clear that he would not get a fair trial. In this context, Cosatu will start a petition campaign to call on the president to ensure the withdrawal of charges," Mr Vavi said. Correspondents say the decision is the latest setback to Mr Mbeki, who is fighting a grassroots revolt over the removal of Mr Zuma.
Last week, Mr Zuma's replacement as deputy President, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, was shouted down by Mr Zuma's supporters, when she addressed a rally of 10,000 African National Congress members, and had to leave the platform. Two weeks after being sacked, Mr Zuma appeared in court on corruption charges in relation to a multi-billion dollar deal with a French arms manufacturer.
Mr Zuma has said he is innocent and welcomed his chance to clear his name. His advisor Schabir Shaik was convicted of fraud and corruption by the judge and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Mr Zuma says he was effectively tried by the media during Mr Shaik's trial.


Porcupines raise thorny questions in Kenya.
Porcupines are wreaking havoc with Kenyan farmers' crops and upsetting the ancestors, but not everyone is complaining. The spiky creatures only come out at night. Residents of Kenya's central Kiambu district are calling on the government and the Kenya Wildlife Service to do more to contain the invasion by the porcupines, or "nungunungu" as they are called in Swahili. The farmers say that their maize crops have been so badly damaged by the spiky pests that they can only use it to feed cattle. They no longer have the crops that they expected to eat, and neither do they have the crops they hoped to sell.
Senior Nairobi National Park warden, Mr Amboga, told the BBC that the KWS was carrying out night patrols to halt the porcupine infestations. However, he said that the porcupines were not really a big problem. Porcupines represent strength in some Ghanaian cultures. Remember the Porcupine Warriors (Asante Kotoko) football club?
Andy Asamoah, Ghana said"The big problem in Kiambu is elephants which come and destroy the farms," he said. Kiambu residents, however, are not reassured. They say the pests are reproducing at a rapid rate and no-one has figured out how to stop them. They have tried digging ditches and trenches around their fields to stop the pillagers.
One said: "They cannot go through trenches but because of the general area that we live in; we cannot have the trenches everywhere - the trenches are a danger risk to our children. "And so they come. And when they do, they destroy all of our crops.
"We have not harvested much for two years." The spiky rodents haven't stopped there though.
They have started burrowing in local graveyards and as they dig holes to live in, they are also exhuming human remains, causing great distress. "The porcupines are against our culture - once someone dies we just want them to rest peacefully," one man said.
For some in the area though, the creatures have not been received with anger. They are the new delicacy. This worries doctors and local councillor Alfred Thiarara. "Knowing very well if you have seen a porcupine, you will know that they are covered with fleas - I worry there will be an outbreak of disease," he said.




Big tax hikes in 'broke' Zimbabwe.

Some 4m Zimbabweans need food aid. Zimbabwe's finance minister has imposed a string of tax rises to bridge a huge spending shortfall and the effects of drought and slum clearances. A tax on drinks and cigarettes has been increased by 50% and mobile phone airtime will also be subjected to a 22.5% tax, Herbert Murerwa said. Zimbabwe is beset with shortages of food, fuel and foreign currency, and rampant unemployment and inflation. An opposition MP said the extra budget showed that the government was "broke". South Africa is considering giving an emergency loan to Zimbabwe, so it can repay its debts to the International Monetary Fund and avoid expulsion.

From September public transport buses will have to pay a quarterly tax and VAT will be raised by 2.5% to 17.5%, Mr Murerwa announced in a supplementary budget. From the measures, Mr Murerwa said he hoped to raise 6.6 trillion Zimbabwean dollars, which is $356m at the official exchange rate and $146m on the black market rate.

VATUp 2.5% to 17.5%
Small busesZ$6m quarterly charge
Big busesZ$18m quarterly charge
TaxisZ$6m quarterly charge
Cigarettes and drinksUp 50%
Car importsUp 15% to 25%
Small minersTo be taxed 5% of minerals produced
A 300ml bottle of Coca Cola was priced at $6,000 on Tuesday.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said the tax hikes would bring more suffering to Zimbabweans "What the minister has done is to tell us straight in the face that the government is broke and they are prepared to drive the economy to a fatal crash," the MDC's Tapiwa Mashakada told parliament, AFP reports. Some of the money will help with food imports to feed some 4m people which the United Nations estimates are in need of food aid.
Some 700,000 people are also trying to cope after their homes or places of work were demolished in a slum clearance programme, the UN says.

Zimbabwe has however, disputed these figures. In a 45-page response, it accused the UN of indulging "in mathematical extrapolation so as to produce the grossly inflated figure of 700,000". Government critics blame Zimbabwe's economic problems on the seizure of white-owned land over the past five years. The government blames food shortages on drought and economic sabotage by Western countries, led by the UK, opposed to land reform.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


Confused lions 'hunt' small cars.

There are 12 lions at Knowlsey Safari Park. Small cars driving through a safari park in Merseyside have been chased by confused lions who think they are prey. Staff at Knowsley Safari Park are monitoring smaller vehicles, including Smart cars and Mini Coopers, after the lions started paying special interest.

David Ross, park manager, told the BBC News website that a group of lionesses chased after one Smart car after being confused by its compact appearance. He said staff were stationed near the enclosure to keep visitors safe.

Unusual features on cars can also spark interest by the 12 lions at the park, which are more used to seeing larger saloon cars. All vehicles are monitored by park staff on the way in. Mr Ross said: "The lions will take an interest in peculiarities on cars and we always keep a close eye on the cars coming in. "With Smart cars and sometimes Mini Coopers the lions definitely raise an eyebrow. It sparks their interest because of their size.

"We had an incident of two ladies in a car being chased by lionesses. "It must have been quite frightening for them, but we always have staff in a vehicle by the lion enclosure to deal with any problems."


Dozens missing in Nigeria floods.

Dozens of people are feared dead after a river ferry capsized in the eastern Nigerian state of Taraba. Some 25 people were rescued alive on Monday, while seven bodies were recovered on Tuesday. Some reports said the boat was overcrowded, but the number of passengers is unclear.

Heavy rain caused the Lamurde river to break its banks last week. A bridge collapsed, killing more than 30 people who were marvelling at the floodwaters. Both incidents took place near Jalingo, the capital of the Taraba state, some 400km (250 miles) east of Nigeria's capital, Abuja.
A spokesman for the Taraba state government told AFP news agency that 102 people were on board the capsized boat, but survivors and locals said they thought there might have been some 70 passengers. The locally-made, wooden ferry was reportedly put into service after the collapse of the bridge to allow people cross the river.



BUT I CAN'T SING...................




Migrant boat found off Canaries.
Spanish coastguards have intercepted a rickety wooden boat with more than 100 would-be illegal immigrants from Africa aboard, at least two of whom have died. Another 30 are seriously ill. Reports say the boat may have been adrift for one or two months.

It was spotted off the Canary Islands in the Atlantic, and is being towed into the port of Los Cristianos, where medical teams are waiting. Hundreds of illegal immigrants attempt the crossing to Spain every year.

In the latest incident, the 20-metre wooden boat was in a bad state and the sea was so rough that the coastguards were struggling to bring the vessel into port. The Red Cross says the craft was sighted about 30km off Los Cristianos, at the southern tip of the island of Tenerife.

Most African migrants attempt the shorter route across the Strait of Gibraltar from Morocco.
But as this route has become increasingly well policed, some have been switching to the much longer and more dangerous crossing to the Canary Islands.


Son renamed after Kenyan's gold.

Limo's victory was not expected.Kenyan athlete Benjamin Limo has renamed his new-born son Helsinki, following his victory in the 5,000m at the World Athletics Championships.

Limo's wife Margaret said she told her husband he had to win the race in honour of his son, who was born last Monday - six days before the race. When Limo duly delivered the gold medal,they agreed to stop calling their son Tony and rename him Helsinki. Limo's victory in the Finnish capital was seen as a shock. He won silver in the 1999 championships.

"I called him soon after delivering our first baby boy at Eldoret Family Care Hospital and gave him the challenge to win him a gold medal," Margaret told the Standard newspaper. The couple have three girls.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Cathy Buckle's Letter From Zimbabwe

Dear Family and Friends,
In a report this week the Washington based Centre for Global Development said that the purchasing power of the average Zimbabwean had plunged to levels that prevailed over 50 years ago in 1953. The CGD, which tracks economic and developmental trends, said that gains made by Zimbabwe over the past five decades had been wiped away in the last six years. The CGD said that the scale and speed of income decline in Zimbabwe was greater than that seen during recent conflicts in the Ivory Coast, the DR Congo and Sierra Leone. These are chilling figures to try and take in and it is very, very hard to see how Zimbabwe can come back from where it is withou tradical and dramatic changes at every single level. Ever since the March elections, we have been slipping backwards and the pace has accelerated with each passing week. Inflation is soaring again, almost all basic commodities have disappeared from our shelves, fuel is virtually unobtainable, electricity supplies are erratic and the water, in my home town anyway, has literally been unfit to drink for the last fortnight. The country is in a state of almost complete paralysis and it is utterly absurd that we are sitting here like beggars waiting for a multi million dollar loan from South Africa when right there, on our front door step, nature is again holding out the key to change as summer arrives.For the last half century Zimbabwe has fed itself from her own fields. Wehave survived crippling repeated years of drought. We mastered the art of growing crops that we could export in order to earn foreign currency; we filled our silos and warehouses in abundant years to see us through the bad seasons we knew would invariably follow. We built dams and reservoirs and dug wells and boreholes to give us water in dry times. We learnt to grow flowers under floodlights and exotic vegetables in plastic tunnels,to rear ostriches for their leathers and to make fuel from ethanol and jatropha.
And now, hah, what shame upon Zimbabwe and her leaders with their masters degrees and doctorates. Now, in 2005, we wait for South Africa to give us food. We have no foreign money to buy fuel. Our fields are unploughed, ourlands unprepared for the new season. Every year, as we get poorer and hungrier there is an excuse, a reason why, having produced more than enough food for fifty years, now we can't do it anymore. Our national newspaper tells us that our winter wheat crop has been severely depleted this year because Quelea birds are eating the grain. It does not tell us how, for half a century, our commercial farmers managed to keep bread on our tables and flour in our shops. Instead it tells us that this week the price of a loaf of bread went from four and half to seven thousand dollars and it tells us that instead of going hungry we should eat the Quelea birds that are stealing the national wheat crop. The Herald newspaper tells us we should find ways of catching, killing and canning Quelea birds and then exporting them to Europe for gourmet restaurants. Oh please, what shame, what utter shame. Until next week, love cathy
Copyright cathybuckle 13 August 2005. http://africantears.netfirms.comMy books on the Zimbabwean crisis, "African Tears" and "Beyond Tears" areavailable from: ; ; ; in Australia and New ; Africa:


Mummy smugglers jailed for life.

Stolen Egyptian artefacts have been found all over the world.Three men have been jailed for life over a scam to smuggle artefacts worth more than $50m out of Egypt. Those found guilty included the former head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, Abdul Karim Abu Shanab. He was accused of giving smugglers certificates showing genuine artefacts were imitations, so they could be carried through customs. "This is injustice. I have done nothing," he wept after the sentence was read out in the Cairo court. His lawyer said he would appeal. Four other defendants received sentences ranging from fines to 15 years in prison. They included a Swiss citizen and a German of Egyptian origin. Four of the seven, including the Swiss and German, were convicted in their absence. Another three were acquitted. Relatives of those found guilty cried in anguish as the sentences were read out, while those of the acquitted leapt for joy.

Officials estimated the smuggling gang exported some 57,000 pieces worth about $55m (£30m), including human and animal mummies, coins, statues and wooden sarcophagi. The authorities intercepted some of the antiquities at Cairo airport, but others were smuggled all over the world, including some that were found in Australia for sale on the internet. They have been returned to Egypt. Egyptian law says only reproductions of antiquities can be exported, so many of the items were given certificates to show they were fake.

Correspondents say the severe penalties for smuggling reflect Egypt's determination to stop the traffic in its ancient heritage. It has demanded that foreign museums return stolen artefacts, refusing to cooperate with their exhibitions unless they do.


South African grape farmers face squeeze. By Sue Emmett BBC Consumer Affairs producer.

Farmers say they are getting less and less for their grapes in the UK. The South African grape industry says it is in crisis. While exports have been hit by a strong rand and production damaged by bad weather in certain areas, farmers cite British supermarket price wars as a major reason for financial hardship and bankruptcies. They say that in many cases supermarkets are demanding high standards of production, while not paying the price it costs them to produce the grapes. According to the South African Table Grape Industry, 65% of the country's grape producers are now operating at a loss. Many are being kept afloat by bank loans or credit from their exporters. It is estimated that one in five grape farmers in the Orange River region of the Northern Cape has gone bust, and it is feared that many more are set to go the same way.
Falling prices.
Gerhard Oosthuizen is one of the farmers in Orange River to have recently gone bankrupt. I was stunned to see at what price they sell grapes compared with the price they get grapes. His farm had been in his family since 1920, but now the vines are being ripped up and the land sold at auction. He is clearly distraught at the thought of leaving it. The bulk of his crop went to UK supermarkets and he said that up to five years ago he was paid the equivalent of about £5 (60 rand) for each 4.5 kilo box. However, the price has since dropped and he now gets as little as £2 a box, despite each box costing more than £3 to produce. As he was producing 175,000 boxes a year, the losses were considerable. "I went to the UK in February and saw the prices at which people buy grapes in supermarkets and I was stunned to see at what price they sell grapes compared with the price they get grapes," he says. "They are making quite a lot of money. I think it's slightly unfair."
Price wars.
Many farmers are particularly critical of supermarket special promotions, such as 'buy one get one free' or sudden big price reductions, which can result in them being paid even less than expected. It is a common complaint that the grapes can already have been shipped and arrive in stores before the supermarket has decided the price it will charge the shopper - and therefore what it will pay the farmer. "They decide for strategic reasons and for reasons of competition between supermarkets to lower the price or to start a promotion or something like that and we are getting the raw edge of it," says Mr Gerhard. Matters came to a climax in December last year. This is the time of year when farmers normally get their best returns, as demand is high over Christmas, but supply is low. A number of supermarkets decided to take the unusual step of of cutting the price of grapes at this key period. "We knew this year would be difficult. We saw right from the beginning there was going to be heated price wars in the run-up to Christmas which is the time we normally get a premium," says Elaine Alexander, of the South African Table Grape Industry.
Minimum wage.
While some feel that the British consumer is benefiting from lower prices, it may be some of South Africa's poorest who suffer. Thousands of workers have lost their jobs in the past year. And even those in work may be facing hardship. At one farm supplying a British supermarket, a worker said she was earning less than the South African minimum wage, which is set at under £4 a day. The floor of her home was bare earth, the roof gaped and let in the rain, the stove was a primitive furnace. The worker, who did not want to be named, said she could not afford food or shoes for her children. It is a problem highlighted by campaigning charity Action Aid and the South Africa's Women in Farms trade union, which wants the supermarkets to abide by the ethical codes that most of them sign up to.
Eastern hopes.
But not all farms tell the same story. At another farm workers lived in relative luxury. They were housed in purpose-built homes with fitted kitchens and bathroom,; tiled floors and electric cookers. These were bought as a result of the higher price paid by Marks & Spencer and other supermarkets mainly in the Far East, who are prepared to pay a premium price for quality grapes. But this comes at a price to shoppers, who have to pay more higher prices. Another farmer, Floyd Fox, is also investing in better houses for his workers, after having switched away from British supermarkets. He now sells to China, whose buyers pay a premium for quality fruit. "If you provide better housing, you attract the best workers. But you can't make the investment if you are operating at a loss," he says. Fellow farmer Dawie Spangenberg, who has also supplied to British supermarkets, says getting a premium price can make all the difference.
"If I can get a contract with Waitrose or M&S I think it would save my farm. It would save the jobs of another 80 or 90 workers and their families," he says. He says that he has spent about £300,000 building a new packing plant to attract buyers, mainly from British supermarkets. But he says the price that some of them pay is not enough to cover his costs. He too faces bankruptcy.

Saturday, August 13, 2005


Help for Ethiopia's beasts of burden.
By Mohammed Adow BBC News, Debre-Zeit, central Ethiopia.

Poor treatment is one of the main causes of illness among Ethiopia's donkeys. The donkey is a highly valued animal in Ethiopia. They provide the transport that brings food and water to millions of peasants in the remotest parts of Ethiopia, where there are no roads or communications. With an estimated five million donkeys, Ethiopia is believed to have the second largest donkey population in the world, after China, which has more than 12 million.
Because of poor treatment, Ethiopia's donkeys get sick frequently and to cater for the health of these vital animals, a hospital has been set up for them. The Donkey Sanctuary is in Debre-Zeit 45km (28 miles) east of the capital, Addis Ababa. Treatment and advice are free and the 11-year-old hospital's annual $60,000 (£33,000) budget is funded by its UK-based namesake, which also runs donkey hospitals in India, Kenya, Mexico, Spain.
Up to 100 donkeys gather daily at the facility to receive treatment for parasites, crippling sores and hyena bites. The animals I found at the hospital were weak and the stench coming from the wounds of some of them was sickening. The sanctuary is one of a handful of hospitals in the world exclusively for donkeys and the only place of its kind in Ethiopia. Apart from wards where the sick animals recuperate, there is an ambulance service and a theatre unit where complex surgery such as Caesareans are performed. The donkey is mentioned 80 times in the Bible - even Jesus rode a donkey
Prof Fisseha Gebreab - During my visit, a group of veterinaries castrated a donkey that had had one of its testicles bitten off by another animal. In a country where half the population cannot afford or do not have access to medical treatment, a sophisticated donkey clinic with its own ambulance service and theatre may seem excessive.
But not to the Ethiopian farmers who rely on these beasts of burden for their everyday livelihood. "My donkey is my life," said farmer Berhanu Gemechu, whom I met at the hospital.
"Without him my family cannot eat or drink. He carries our water and food. He is our provider, our car and our friend."
Ethiopia is a deeply religious nation. Professor Fisseha Gebreab, Ethiopia's leading donkey expert and the hospital's co-ordinator, makes good use of this faith to educate donkey owners.
Every morning, he delivers a well-rehearsed sermon to those gathered at the sanctuary. Donkeys play a vital role in Ethiopia's economy"The donkey is mentioned 80 times in the Bible," he says. "No other animal is mentioned in the Bible so much. Even Jesus rode a donkey."
His greatest quarrel with farmers is the treatment they mete out to the animals. According to the professor, the poor treatment of donkeys in Ethiopia is reflected in their life expectancy: just nine years here, compared to 35 in Europe or the US, where a donkey is more likely to be a pet than a labourer.
And there seems to be no respite in sight for Ethiopia's donkeys, at least not in the middle of the poverty that faces many of their owners. Millions of them pick their way through the rocky, barren highlands bearing their heavy loads. Given the size of their burden, any other animal would have collapsed. But the donkeys carry on working. They are the giants of the Ethiopian highlands.



Men's 50k walk 0935
Women's pole vault 1610
Women's 200m 1730
Women's hammer 1750
Men's 110m hurdles 1845
Men's 400m 1935

Russia's Yelena Isinbayeva sets the 18th global record of her career and wins the pole vault world title when she clears 5.01m at the second attempt. Britain's men's 4x100m relay squad and 1,500m runner Helen Clitheroe make it through to their weekend finals. But defending champions USA go out when they bungle their first baton switch - wrecking Justin Gatlin's bid to win a third gold medal at the championships. But Jeremy Wariner and Allyson Felix add golds to America's Helsinki haul.

Men's 50k walk final.
Sergey Kirdyapkin receives a rapturous reception as he enters the Olympic Stadium to take gold on his world championship debut. The 25-year-old former junior world champion led from early on and secures the global title in a personal best time of three hours 38 minutes and eight seconds. At around the 20km mark he was caught by Aleksey Voyevodin and the pair briefly raced shoulder-to-shoulder. But by 40km Kirdyapkin had shaken off his fellow Russian, who went on to earn silver in 3:41.25. Italian Alex Schwazer powers through late on to claim the bronze in a national record 3:41.54.

Men's high jump qualification.
Britain's Ben Challenger crashes out of the competition when he cannot clear the bar at 2.27m. The Belgrave Harrier did not get off to a great start, failing at 2.20m at his first attempt, but he returned to record 2.24m before going out. But Olympic champion Stefan Holm, who won world silver in Paris, is one of 12 who comfortably clear 2.27m to progress to Sunday's final. Defending champion Jacques Freitag, however, is not among them. The South African fails three times at 2.24m and departs the Olympic Stadium two days earlier than many would have predicted.

Women's javelin qualification.
Britain's Goldie Sayers is all smiles as she qualifies for Sunday's final with her first throw of 60.67m. Olympic champion Osleidys Menendez, the only woman in the field to have thrown over 70m, was first to advance. The Cuban, who also holds the best global mark of 2005 - 68.47m, which she recorded in the same stadium last month - reaches 65.77m to easily top Group A and progress. Germany's Christina Obergfoll is next to join them when she reaches 61.59m. In total 12 throwers advance, including Germany's Steffi Nerius who wins Group B with a personal best 66.52m.

Men's long jump qualification.
Chris Tomlinson fails to qualify for Saturday's final despite a series of season-best jumps. The Briton opens with 7.55m, then follows that up with a wind-assisted 7.83m before slipping back to record 7.64m in qualifying Group A. But the automatic mark for Saturday's final is set at 8.10m and he misses out. In Group B, home favourite Tommi Evila sends the Finnish crowd into a frenzy when he registers a new national record 8.18m to join 11 others in the final. "It was an accident!" Evila admitted. "I wasn't planning to do that but the old record was 8.16m which is pretty close to 8.10m, which is what I was trying to achieve." Dwight Phillips, also in Group B, heads a formidable American contingent with a season's best jump of 8.47m and comfortably advances with a massive wind-assisted 8.59m. But four-time champion Ivan Pedroso, of Cuba, does not go through after failing to make a mark.

Women's pole vault final.
Olympic champion and world-record holder Yelena Isinbayeva is assured of gold when she clears 4.70m. She then goes on to set another global mark - the 18th of her career - when she soars over 5.01m at the second attempt. Monika Pyrek of Poland, takes silver after clearing 4.60m but failing at 4.75m. Czech Pavla Hamackova wins bronze with her clearance of 4.50m.

Women's shot put qualification.
New Zealander Valerie Vili is one of the first to go through when she records a massive 19.87m to set a new Australasian area record and win Group B. The 2003 world silver medallist Nadezhda Ostapchuk, of Belarus, tops Group A with 19.65m.

Men's 4x100m relay heats.
France, Jamaica and Germany all qualify for Saturday's final from heat one - but the story of the race is America's shock exit. Mardy Scales fluffs his handed over to second-leg runner Leonard Scott and the favourites fail to recover and go out - ending Justin Gatlin's bid to complete a golden hat-trick at the championships. US relay captain Maurice Greene said: "Do I feel bad for him (Gatlin)? Yes." And Greene, taking a dig at the poor weather that has dogged Helsinki, quipped: "I just came here for a rainy vacation, I guess." Meanwhile, the British quartet of Marlon Devonish, Jason Gardener, Mark Lewis-Francis and Christian Malcolm also qualify when they come second in a heat two won by Trinidad and Tobago. Japan come third and also go through.

Women's 200m final.
Olympic silver medallist Allyson Felix goes one better than Athens and wins in 22.16. Fellow American Rachelle Boone-Smith takes silver and Christine Arron, of France, the bronze. Olympic champion Veronica Campbell of Jamaica overcooks the bend and flies out of her lane before finishing way down in fifth.

Men's 800m semi-finals.
Northern Ireland's James McIlroy fails to advance despite a season's best performance in the second semi-final. The Larne man clocks 1:45.91 but it is only good enough for seventh in a race won by Canadian Gary Reed in a new national record time of 1:44.33. Russia's Yuriy Borzakovskiy wins the first semi in 1:44.26 while Belal Mansoor Ali tops the third semi in 1:45.35.

Women's hammer final.
Cuban defending champion Yipsi Moreno had looked well on the way to a third consecutive world title at the half-way stage. But her leading mark of 73.08m is bettered by Olga Kuzenkova. The Olympic champion registers a season's best 75.10m with her fifth and final throw of the competition to take gold. Moreno still seems happy with the silver while Kuzenkova's Russian team-mate Tatyana Lysenko claims bronze with 72.46m.

Women's 1500m semi-finals.
Preston's Helen Clitheroe scrapes into the final as a fastest loser. She finishes seventh in her semi in 4:09.13 - but as the first semi was very slow (Maryam Yusuf Jamal won in a lacklustre 4:10.58) the Brit goes through.

Men's 110m hurdles final.
Four-time US world champion Allen Johnson fails in his bid to become the first track athlete to win five world titles in the same event when he finishes third in a very quick final. Ladji Doucoure of France wins in 13.07 to edge China's Olympic champion Liu Xiang (13.08). Johnson clocks 13.10. Doucoure sums it up: "This is a good day for me!"

Women's 4x100m relay heats.
The inexperienced British quartet of Emily Freeman, Emma Ania, Laura Turner and Katherine Endacott run a solid heat and come fourth in 43.83 as USA and Nigeria automatically qualify. But it is not enough to see the GB girls through.

Men's 400m final.
Welshman Tim Benjamin gives his all in tricky lane one and comes fifth in 44.93. As many predicted, Jeremy Wariner adds the world title to his Olympic crown in impressive fashion in a blistering time of 43.93.