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Monday, May 30, 2005

A Proud Member of the Human Rights Commission

How serious can the United Nations be about human rights when they have countries such as Zimbabwe on the Human Rights Commission? Check out how the government of Zimbabwe, as reported by South Africa's Mail & Guardian, starts what it calls an 'urban renewal campaign'.

"Police in Zimbabwe continued demolishing thousands of shacks and vendors' kiosks in opposition strongholds on Monday, burning a 10km-long line of curio stalls along the road near Victoria Falls."

"Trudi Stevenson said in the preceding 24 hours, police had 'at gunpoint' forced 2000 more people in Hatcliffe township in northern Harare to destroy their houses and leave. On Friday and Saturday, 7000 were evicted, although they had lease agreements issued by Mugabe's government."

"Thousands of street traders have been arrested and their wares seized or destroyed since the May 19 start of the crackdown, which the government has described as an urban renewal campaign. Police using torches, sledgehammers and bulldozers have also burned and demolished the homes of the urban poor in informal settlements around the country."

The government of Zimbabwe is even arresting reporters that are trying to report the misdeeds of the government,

"In the eastern city of Mutare, police said they arrested an American, identified as Howard Smith Gilman, under media laws for allegedly covering the destruction of 9000 illegal structures there."

Burning the homes and businesses of the citizens of your country, forcing many others to leave their homes at gunpoint, and arresting journalists that are trying to cover the event, and that's just in the last week. So what would a country have to do to not be considered for a position on the Human Rights Commission, or is it even possible to be a big enough abuser of human rights that you may not even qualify? I was just wondering.

crossposted to canadiancomment

Posted by Bob Matheson on May 30, 2005 | Permalink


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Don't worry. So long as the UN is incapable of acting against the United States, they can appoint anyone they like to the "Human Rights Commission". It won't matter.

Posted by: Scott | 2005-05-30 9:44:12 PM

Yea but at least they don't have those racist whites in power anymore.


Posted by: Quidnunc Savant | 2005-05-30 11:20:30 PM

No, now the Chinese are in control. The vendors are being cleared to make way for Chinese merchants, and Blacks are being cleared off of the land they drove the whites off of, so that Chinese can take over the tobacco farms. China is now Mugabe's only sponsor. Even Ghaddafi withdrew his all-female model bodyguard from Mugabe, and the North Koreans who took their place have been brought to back to their own commie hell-hole.

So much for African Consciousness and Black Power!

Posted by: Brian O'Neill | 2005-05-30 11:40:15 PM

Quidnunc, you may have thought that sarcastic, but I've actually encountered people who were convinced that Mugabe's "land reforms" were a progressive measure intended to redress historical wrongs.

Not coincidentally, it was at the forums for The Independent newspaper (Robert Fisk's home base). Go figure.

Posted by: dr_dog | 2005-05-31 1:34:53 AM


It is the racism of low expectations that fuels such backward thinking in such publications.

It doesn't matter what the outcome of such
measures are . It is never occurs to them to hold Mugabe to the same standards as the former white government.

Posted by: Quidnunc Savant | 2005-05-31 1:55:54 AM

Mugabe's regime is the natural result of Socialism:

= Central Planning + Prisons = Death.

Soviet Russia, Cuba, North Korea, Cambodia, Zimbabwe.

On the slippery slope: Canada.

Posted by: maz2 | 2005-05-31 6:11:09 AM

New Brunswick Premier Bernard Lord adds that "Equalization is the only national mechanism Canadians have to help ensure that, regardless of where you live, you are entitled to comparable levels of public services at comparable levels of taxation. This principle is so Canadian, it is actually enshrined in our Constitution." (See Section 36 of the Constitution Act, 1982.)

Maz2 the US have equalization payments as well. It is a common feature of any federation. In fact, Republican held states receive the majority of the equalization payments in the US.
Socialism indeed.

Posted by: Gamblog | 2005-05-31 6:43:59 AM

I apologize for the post above, it was supposed to appear in the equalization post.

Posted by: Gamblog | 2005-05-31 7:02:08 AM

The Shell Game Comes to Zimbabwe: Mugabe shuffles around farms to curry favor with the Chinese.

By Roger Bate, The Weekly Standard, 05/27/2005

THE ZIMBABWE GOVERNMENT is offering formerly white-owned farms for free to Chinese state-owned firms in a desperate bid to revive the key agricultural sector, say well-placed sources in Zimbabwe. Details of the planned land-for-investment scheme are still uncertain, but with President Robert Mugabe vigorously pursuing a "Look-East" policy after falling out with the West (because of his government's poor human rights record), the president was looking for new deals to capture foreign currency. Unfortunately it appears that Western firms, including a Virginian tobacco company, are being drawn into schemes with the Chinese government, which has been supplying arms to Zimbabwe.

Reports had been multiplying recently that Mugabe was inviting former white landowners back to farm in Zimbabwe, but this appears to be a fiction to cover up for his plan to bring Chinese farmers in to grow tobacco and other crops.

Mugabe has appointed Didymus Mutasa, the head of the country's secret police, the Central Intelligence Organization, to oversee the latest version of Zimbabwe's land redistribution program. The government is now targeting unproductive land previously owned by white farmers, now occupied by blacks--apparently because there is no longer enough land in white hands, after close to 90 percent of the former white commercial farmers were stripped of land under the government's chaotic and often violent land reforms

According to Wilf Mbanga of the Zimbabwean newspaper, the new farmers could soon find themselves at the center of international legal disputes as lawyers for the original landowners seek compensation. Like many commercial farmers who were displaced while their tobacco crops were still in the field, Joe Whaley had his farm taken over by one of Mugabe's relatives, Chester Mhende. "Mhende walked on to Whaley's farm two years ago, as the tobacco crop was about to be reaped. With the help of the Zanu PF heavies and the police, he prevented Whaley from taking anything off the farm. The tobacco crop was reaped and sold," said a report in the Zimbabwean. In addition to having reaped the crop, Mhende has been using the equipment on the farm and has never paid a cent to Whaley--who has now secured a high court injunction confirming that he is the rightful owner of the farm and that Mhende has to leave. The police, however, have refused to act. The police may also have inside knowledge about Mugabe's push to nationalize all land (giving much to Chinese farmers), which will nullify all land claims anyway.

Whaley alleged that the crop was bought by Zimbabwe Leaf Tobacco. When asked to comment on this allegation, ZLT Director, Gary Wallace told the Zimbabwean, "ZLT might have bought Mhende's crop through the auction floors--we don't know."

ZLT is the wholly owned subsidiary of Universal (Zimbabwe) Leaf Tobacco, a U.S. subsidiary of Universal Corporation, a $3 billion a year, 30,000 employee corporation, based in Richmond, Virginia. Universal Leaf Tobacco's senior vice president, James H. Starkey, III said, "All kinds of deals going on down there to pay bills. . . . finding a working mechanism is not easy. . . . I don't like the situation but we have a factory in Harare to run and our work force has gone from 6,000 to only 1,500 in the past few years."

Some of the "deals" that have to be entertained are extremely convoluted and easy to misinterpret. For example, the new tobacco farmers, located mainly in the central Mashonaland provinces, signed contracts with the Zimbabwean Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA), which pays them for their crops in local currency. ZLT then pays ZESA's account with the China Aerospace Times Electronics Corporation (CATEC), a Chinese state-owned engineering firm, in U.S. dollars, and ZLT--the company owned by Universal--receives the tobacco and exports it. Starkey confirmed this arrangement to me saying that CATEC was supplying electrical generating equipment.

CATEC is mainly engaged in the research, development, production, and sales of the technologies and products in the fields of aerospace electronics, with at least 6,400 highly trained technicians. It could be providing other technological advice with military applications to Mugabe's government.

Given that stolen farms are at stake, money is fungible, and one Chinese state firm can be linked with any other state-owned firm, some, including the Zimbabwean, have been alleging that the funds provided by ZLT to CATEC might have been used to purchase arms, notably the Chinese K8 jets the Mugabe regime recently acquired. There is no evidence for this (and CATEC is not the producer of the K8), but the convoluted payment methods made necessary by the Mugabe regime drag U.S. firms, trying to salvage their Zimbabwean assets ($53 million worth in Universal's case) into a bad spot. "We have to bring U.S. dollars into the country [to pay for tobacco], so we have to work with the Reserve Bank and do as the government requires," says Starkey.

Like so many businesses operating in inhospitable locations, Universal takes a significant risk to its capital and revenue stream. Universal is backing Zimbabwean white farmers with $30 million in loans to establish themselves in Northern Zambia, and the company plans to offer $12 million to black Zambian farmers wanting to join the industry.

Meanwhile Chinese state firms have no compunctions about property-rights abuses or dealing with despotic regimes such as Mugabe's. Indeed Chinese investment is increasing in Zimbabwe. Officials of state-owned agro-firm, China State Farms Agribusiness Corporation are expected in Harare to conclude a farm deal shortly. As one source said to me, "China is now easily the largest investor in Zimbabwe, the geo-political context of southern Africa is changing."

Posted by: Brian O'Neill | 2005-05-31 7:05:17 AM


Posted by: hello | 2005-06-21 7:15:16 PM

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