News briefs cont. 11/05/06

Nat Parks suspends hunting
BULAWAYO - The Parks and Wildlife Management Authority has suspended hunting of conservancies to allow the animals to improve in quality and stature, says public relations manager, retired Major Mbewe.
Mbewe said the authority, three weeks ago, st

opped the hunting of animals in areas such as Gwayi and Matetsi in Matabeleland North.
“We want to improve the quality of the trophies. We cannot allow people to continue hunting because we want the animals to be more mature before hunting can resume,” said Mbewe.
He also called on the rural communities of Matabeleland North to desist from killing animals that stray into their areas as “lions are favoured by hunters and thus generate a lot of foreign currency during the hunting season.”
Meanwhile, Mbewe says the authority has started rehabilitating boreholes and pumps at Hwange National Park. Last year, many animals, especially elephants died due to thirst and hunger following the drying up of dams at the Hwange National Park. – CAJ

Soldiers use graffiti to denounce Mugabe
HARARE – There are reports that disgruntled soldiers in the Zimbabwe Defence Forces have resorted to using graffiti in toilets to denounce their commander-in-chief, Robert Mugabe.
Last month, soldiers from 2 Brigade in Cranborne sabotaged a fleet of vehicles in a show of defiance against the regime. Several senior officers in the army have allegedly received anonymous letters questioning their loyalty to the crumbling regime, and junior soldiers are reportedly not happy.
MDC Mutare North MP Giles Mutsekwa confirmed reports of graffiti being found in toilets in most army camps in and around Harare.
‘We have no reason to suggest the reports are not true. It’s a development we knew was bound to come. The rank and file and middle management within the uniformed forces are disgruntled and the government thought they would brush that aside by throwing money at them,’ Mutsekwa said. – SW Radio Africa

Elections rigged already – MDC
BUDIRIRO – The candidate for the Tsvangirai-led MDC in the Budiriro by-election due later this month has accused the police and security intelligence officials of harassing and intimidating campaigners.
Emmanuel Chisvuvure accused the government of trying to confuse the electorate and give the upper hand to the Mutambara camp’s candidate, Gabriel Chaibva.
“The people of Budiriro will never vote for such a Vasco Da Gama type person who was once in NAGG and Zoom then lost last year standing for Sunningdale in the parliamentary elections,” he said.
Chisvuvure also accused Zanu (PF) of already having rigged the by-election by continuing to register voters after the April 13 deadline. He said many of the people whose names were still being added to the list came from the surrounding areas and were being given new identification cards.
He said police details in the Budiriro area had been blocking campaigners from their work, saying police clearance was necessary. But the law does not require members of political parties to get permission from the police at all. There are also allegations that Minister without portfolio, Elliot Manyika, has threatened MDC activists and supporters of the Tsvangirai faction. – SW Radio Africa

Mugabe arms war vets, youths
HARARE – President Robert Mugabe is surreptitiously arming his war veterans and violent youth brigades with guns so that they can crush the planned street protests to topple his regime next month. The street protests, called by the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change, are set to be held in winter. Army sources promised chaos and bloodshed on a scale never seen before if protesters tried to march against President Mugabe’s administration. The MDC has kept the actual dates under wraps although it has promised a cold season of mass protests. Mugabe’s militant war veteran supporters have vowed to crush them. They said they would use their military experience to ensure the MDC protests “don’t even take off”. According to sources, Mugabe has “opened army barracks” to the war veterans and youth militias. The sources said Mugabe was taking the MDC threats seriously. They said Mugabe was well aware that the last national strike called by the opposition had been an overwhelming success. He was therefore taking into account the possibility of an overwhelming response to the latest call. “Mugabe’s resolve to crush any challenge to his authority must not be underestimated,” said a middle ranking army official, who preferred not to be identified. “He has ordered the army to give weapons to his war veterans and the youth brigades for his defence,” added the official, insisting that they would use these guns only if necessary. A senior army officer said there was nothing wrong with arming war veterans and youth brigades because they were considered a reserve force of the Zimbabwe National Army. “You may recall that the war veterans have been constituted into a reserve force of the army. They are entitled to weapons, if this is necessary for them to defend their leader.” Officials say Mugabe trusts the war veterans more than the young soldiers who joined the army in large numbers after independence from Britain in 1980. He feels the war veterans are more loyal to him and more reliable than young soldiers who did not fight in Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle, say the officials. The notorious war veterans, who spearheaded Mugabe’s often violent farm invasions, last week vowed to use “military tactics” to thwart the planned protests against Mugabe. National Liberation War Veterans’ Association leader, Endy Mhlanga, said his militias would forcefully resist the MDC mass resistance. “We have stood aside and observed you for too long and this time we will not,” said Mhlanga. “This time, using our own military experience, we will mobilise against you. I do not mince my words.” Mhlanga added: “The consequences of any mass action will be grave. We will co-ordinate with state security agents to fight you off. “Remember that most top security agents in defence, the police and the Central Intelligence Organisation are war veterans and we will be co-ordinating with them.” The MDC has vowed to press ahead with its protests, despite the threats. Its spokesperson, Nelson Chamisa, said there was nothing wrong with the people of Zimbabwe using peaceful mass protests to free themselves from “this rogue regime”. However, the MDC is not taking Mugabe’s threats lightly. It has been urging the country’s uniformed services not to allow themselves to be used against the people. The opposition party is telling the army to disobey illegal orders, warning that those who partake in Mugabe’s repression will face serious consequences under a “future” MDC government.

Torture cases increase
HARARE – Zimbabwe state security agents stepped up the use of torture against civilians with 19 cases of torture reported in the month of March alone against only three cases recorded the previous two months, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum (ZHRF) said this week.
Torture is outlawed in Zimbabwe and the Harare government has in the past denied reports by the ZHRF, churches and pro-democracy groups that its army and police routinely commit torture against perceived opposition supporters.
The ZHRF, which brings together 17 of the biggest human rights groups in the country, said in addition to rising torture there were also several cases of assault and unlawful arrest of citizens committed by state secret service agents and security forces while carrying out their duties.
Detailing one case of gross human rights abuse which was described as “unprecedented” the Forum said a group of Zimbabwe National Army soldiers and Zimbabwe Revenue Authority officials in March raided a hotel in Mutare and heavily assaulted and tortured workers at the hotel after accusing them of hoarding sugar and maize-meal.
“The employees were forced to ‘stand on their heads’ and to do press-ups on their knuckles while the security agents continued to assault them. One of the victims, John Saungweme, who is elderly, fainted during the ordeal,” the report reads. – ZimOnline

Zim loses out on World Cup tourism promo
DURBAN – South Africa, Mozambique and Swaziland have agreed a major initiative to promote tourism to an estimated 10 million visitors during the 2010 soccer World Cup being hosted by South Africa. But, as usual, Zimbabwe is losing out on what might have been a golden opportunity to boost its dismal income from tourism.
Representatives from the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and a number of Zimbabwean tour operators attended a three-day indaba in Durban to discuss how to make best use of the event to promote tourism. But the major plan agreed involves only South Africa, Mozambique and Swaziland.
The three countries launched a new tourism corridor, the Lubombo Tourism Route, and agreed to scrap visa requirements during the World Cup to enable tourists to access resort centres easily.
Mozambican Minister of Tourism Dr Fernando Sumbana Jnr. said the new tourism route would allow his country to benefit from the huge number of tourists to South Africa. The Lubombo Route is located in a fast-growing tourism region that has recorded a significant increase in traffic from Kruger National Park and has tourist attractions including coastal lakes, lagoons, five transfrontier conservation areas and world heritage sites. – Own correspondent

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