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Zimbabweans hope CHOGM increases Mugabe pressure

Zimbabwe Support Group NEWS RELEASE

2 December 2003 Attention: NEWS EDITOR

Zimbabweans hope CHOGM increases pressure on Mugabe

Zimbabweans hope CHOGM will be the focal point for increased pressure on Robert Mugabe, the chairman of New Zealand’s Zimbabwe Support Group says.

“Arrogant and determined to hang on to power through violent means, Mugabe should be denied a place among the leaders of the Commonwealth. The message should be clear that those who do not abide by the basic principles and tenets of the Commonwealth, shall stay away from it,” Foreman Foto said.

Foreman Foto came to New Zealand after working as the parliamentary organiser for the MDC, Zimbabwe’s main opposition group.

He says when CHOGM begins on 5 December should build pressure on Mugabe to move fast towards the restoration of the rule of law, an environment that allows for economic rehabilitation, political tolerance, human rights and democracy.

“Three weeks before the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Nigeria, the Zimbabwe government still flounders on basic tenets of democracy, good governance and human rights. Harare has not moved an inch towards a semblance of good governance, human rights and democracy. In fact, human rights groups observe it has slid further and deeper into the dungeons of being a pariah state,” Foreman Foto said.

“Some 52 civic organisations' leaders were rounded up by Harare’s police (famous for arresting to investigate and later craft charges) and bundled up in cells. They spent two harsh nights in jail and were later released. No charges were laid.

“The press is still heavily gagged. Divergence of political opinion is a crime in Zimbabwe. Perceived supporters and sympathisers of the Movement for Democratic Change are brutalised horrendously and denied food handouts. They have no rights.

“2004 is already a drought year. More than half Zimbabwe’s 14 million people are in dire need of food aid. The primary industry sector (agriculture) is in limbo. The former bread-basket of Southern African Development Community is now a basket case. The ground situation gives no hope for a return to normal full-scale production on commercial farm land. The new farmers have no seed, fertiliser, technical expertise, capital nor fuel.

“There is unprecedented unemployment, inflation is more than 500%, basics are beyond reach of over 80% of the population and prices change by the hour. People cannot afford meat, bread, milk, sugar, mealie-meal, transport, electricity, telecommunication, housing etc. They cannot even afford to bury the dead.

“HIV/AIDS is taking its toll. All the gains in primary health care, education and human resources development have been eroded. There are no drugs in hospitals and clinics, salaries and wages cannot match the ever- growing rise in prices.”

Issued by Sugar Media Ltd.

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