Dear Family and Friends,
Thank you all for the Christmas cards, emails and
messages offering words of support, encouragement and hope this last week. I
apologise for not responding to an awful lot of them but each one was read and
treasured, thank you.
All week we have been absolutely bombarded by State
owned radio and television reports telling us that this has been the best
Christmas for 100 years because Zimbabweans have been given back their land and
are expecting "bumper harvests." I went away for a few days, traveled a couple
of hundred kilometres and saw for myself the state of the crops
on Zimbabwean farms and am still in a state of deep shock. On the entire 220
kilometres of my journey there were less than a dozen fields on the roadside
growing a saleable crop. Of these not one was maize, Zimbabwe's staple food.
There were many dozens of little patches, some perhaps as big as one acre, where
newly resettled farmers have claimed a vast field and managed to plant only a
minute fraction of it with food. Zimbabwe's newly resettled farmers have
not planted enough food for themselves, let alone a surplus with which to
support 13 million Zimbabweans. Perhaps what struck me most is that we have gone
backwards in time. From tractors and pivot irrigation tending crops for sale to
support the nation, the view now is of oxen pulling hand ploughs in little
squares to feed perhaps one man and his wife for three or four months. Having
been all my life in Africa and a farmer for a decade I find it criminal in the
extreme that our prime growing season is going to waste like this and that our
Agriculture Minister is sitting in Harare saying that we are in for a bumper
harvest. More criminal is that our Minister of Environment is doing and saying
nothing about the vast environmental degradation that lies there along the road
sides for us all to see. On countless fields along the road dozens of indigenous
trees have been hacked down to be replaced by one or two primitive grass huts.
In the middle of timber plantations hundreds of prime trees, grown for poles and
furniture, have been felled to make room for one ramshackle hut On almost every
field our new farmers have planted maize along the river banks, gullies
are visible, chemicals are leaching into our water systems, siltation
has started, contours have been ploughed through. We have gone from being a
vastly productive country to one of primitive subsistence and all the highly
educated Ministers who govern us with their Masters degrees and Doctorates are
saying nothing, doing nothing. They have watched in political silence as
commercial farmers have been stopped from growing food by "war veterans", they
have taken Zimbabwe back into the dark ages. For over a year I have been saying
that starvation is approaching, this week I saw the reality of it.
This has been the best Christmas in 100 years for a
very few Zimbabweans. 4 people were murdered in political violence this week.
Trymore Midzi, 24 years old was brutally assaulted in Bindura by men wielding
machetes. He died in hospital. Titus Nheya, 56 years old was stabbed to death in
Karoi. Milton Chambati, 45 years old, attacked by a mob of fifty was stabbed in
the back and then beheaded in Magunge. Laban Chiweta, 24 years old was beaten to
death by armed riot police near Bindura. My love and condolences go to their
wives and lovers, their children, friends and families.
On the morning of Christmas Eve a barefoot and
barely clothed young woman, perhaps 20, appeared outside my door. She was
suckling an infant at her distended breast and had a toddler at her feet. She
was starving, her eyes were filled with tears and her pleas for help were
garbled but desperate. She carried her life, her home and her children's
security in a small, blanket enclosed bundle. This is the face of Zimbabwe in
2001. When I returned home the hate mail again filled my screen. "Go back to
Britain" it said, "there is no place for you here." The writer said that the
starvation is the fault of of white farmers who are not delivering their produce
to create artificial shortages. He did not seem to be aware of the cold hard
fact - there is no produce to sell 21 months after politicians decided to use
race and land to secure their re-election. The educated men and women who govern
Zimbabwe, the civil servants and the police who have turned a blind eye for
almost two years must now find ways of feeding us all. The time for hate and
accusations, for greed and jealousy is long gone, now we must all work
together before it is our mothers and daughters carrying their lives in small
bundles begging for help. Until next week, with love, cathy
Daily News - Leader Page
My prayer for Zimbabwe is for
12/29/01 8:59:27 AM (GMT +2)
FOR some time I have been wanting to write to the people I
love very much,
the people of Zimbabwe. But I was not sure in what capacity I
the people of my beloved country. Finally, I realised that I
could do so as
a peace-loving citizen of Zimbabwe and, above all, as a child
of God. And
this is my prayer for my beloved Zimbabwe!
a Christian understanding of society is our conviction that
human life has a
divine origin and purpose. Our faith covenant with God is
linked to our
covenant to one another. Our vision for society is based on
the coming of the
Kingdom of God and the rule of God being established in
the minds and hearts
of human beings; where social order and security are
based on mutual respect,
service, honour, humility and love for one another
which comes from knowing
that each of us is made in the image and likeness
of God before whom we are
Through the words and example of Jesus Christ, we have been
the divine law on which our common life together should be
It is summarised in the command to love God and
Love of God is false unless there is genuine love of neighbour
mutual respect, honour, service, humility and tolerance. Each one of
accountable to God for the welfare of our neighbour and will be
As Christians, we each have a responsibility not
simply to watch, observe
and monitor what is going on in our beloved
Zimbabwe, but to actively shape
the moral climate of the community around
Being truthful to God and to ourselves, we understand that
responsibility is to mould the ethos of society from which unconscious
conscious decisions emerge from which Zimbabwean values are
When Christians find contradictions between what they believe
be and what it is actually becoming, they must confront and
The sad and terrible events in Zimbabwe
over the past two years compel me to
speak words of peace, comfort and hope
to people I love very much.
Stunned and shattered by State-sponsored
violence and lawlessness and the
threat of a culture of violence and
vandalism that is allowed to creep into
our society, I pray that all
peace-loving people will join together in
seeking solidarity with victimised
people, especially children, women and
My fervent and
constant prayers are for those who grieve because they have
loved ones, neighbours and property; for those people who
are providing the
ministry of presence, comfort, healing and hope; for
countless volunteers who
are demonstrating selfless courage and generosity;
for the people who are
daily being placed in harm's way and their loved
ones; for all who are
redemptively reaching out to those persons who are
with violence and lawlessness; for all leaders of all
political parties in
Zimbabwe that they may have the wisdom and courage to
lead people toward
justice and peace!
I pray for innocent survivors of violence and
lawlessness who have
experienced injury, loss and death. I pray for the
perpetrators of violence
and lawlessness. This is hard, but they need our
forgiveness in order to put
a stop to violence and lawlessness. I pray that
violence and lawlessness
I am extremely concerned for the
thousands of Zimbabweans who are now living
in fear and terror; and those who
are displaced by these terrible, violent,
and inhuman activities and are
exposed to extreme poverty.
People cannot live together freely where
there is dishonesty and suspicion.
Today there is a very serious erosion
of honesty and freedom in Zimbabwe.
Greed and corruption coupled with the
desire for power and control
frequently distort people's conscience.
Elaborate schemes are cooked every
day to hide the truth for personal and
public gain. We are all witnessing
instances where intimidation and outright
harassment are forcing people into
tight corners where they are saying and
doing anything to save themselves
from the current violence. We are all
witnessing the dangerous development
of a culture of hate, vandalism,
lawlessness and violence in our
There is a total
breakdown in trust within institutions whose very purpose
is to promote trust
and confidence in our society. We are all witnessing
situations where those
entrusted with the authority to govern are abusing
that trust for personal
and political gain.
Smokescreens are set up to divert attention from the
real issues troubling
us and from the truth. Those who are charged with
upholding the law and
protecting the rights of our citizens are often no
longer impartial in the
manner in which they carry out their daily
Justice is being selectively served if not totally abrogated or
They are easily manipulated, at times becoming themselves
involved in the
perpetration of violence in total contradiction to their
I am concerned that even the print and electronic media are
for campaigns of misinformation, and that facts are being
misconstrued to manipulate people's emotions, anger and
This breakdown of trust at institutional level is giving
birth to a culture
of suspicion that is entering the fabric of our society.
It is often easier
to lie than to stand by the truth and the easier way
becomes the chosen way.
When individuals are labelled as belonging to the
"wrong party" or a
different ethnic or racial group for that matter, they are
suspicion and threat. This is tearing apart families and
Daily News - Leader Page
Will Mugabe heed call for free, fair
12/29/01 8:58:36 AM (GMT +2)
THE day that
President George W Bush of the United States signed the
and Economic Recovery Bill (ZDERA) into law - 22
December - should have
signalled to President Mugabe the tolling of an
ominous bell for his
Neither he nor any of his closest advisers in Zanu PF had
considered the possibility of the ZDERA actually becoming
But it seems as if the guardian angel (if such a creature exists) of
totalitarian regimes deserted them in their hour of greatest
Next to end any more prevarication on their course of action will
Commonwealth and the European Union.
The former will probably
decide to suspend Zimbabwe from membership of this
multiracial group. The
latter will impose sanctions.
It's difficult to predict how the Southern
African Development Community
will react. Earlier, the heads of state had
indicated they would tell their
colleague bluntly he was driving his country
into a political and economic
dead-end, that he had to stop and re-examine
The alternatives to his pell-mell gallop into international
clear: ensure the electoral playing field is level before next
presidential election, end all violence against his opponents and
a sound land reform programme that does not hinge on intimidation
The new US law, one of the few the government has passed
against a foreign
country with which it is not at war, is aimed at Mugabe and
"It is the sense of Congress," says the Act, "that the
begin immediate consultations with the governments of
European Union member
states, Canada, and other appropriate foreign countries
on ways in which to
(1) identify and share information regarding individuals
responsible for the
deliberate breakdown of the rule of law, politically
motivated violence, and
intimidation in Zimbabwe."
It proposes other
measures against these people.
But it also provides for the eventual
removal and amendment of those
The lawmakers assumed that
just the threat of the sanctions would be enough
for Mugabe and his stubborn
coterie to see the folly of their ways and pull
back from the
Why the Mugabe regime ignores the positive elements of the US Act
enough. The main reason is that all the actions for which they are
punished are designed to ensure his re-election at any cost.
he sets up an independent electoral commission and ends the
ensuring the people of a peaceful election campaign, he has no
that they will vote for him.
In fact, the odds would
definitely shift in his opponent's favour, on the
basis of the 2000
Similarly, if he allowed the opposition to
campaign freely throughout the
country - with no no-go areas, including
Mashonaland Central, where the MDC
is being terrorised with a particularly
evil vengeance - the voters might
love their message of change.
removed all the so-called war veterans from the commercial farms
guaranteed the farm workers freedom to cast their ballots without fear
being killed, maimed or raped by war veterans, his stranglehold on the
vote would be loosened, with possibly tragic consequences for
The logical conclusion of any neutral
observer would be that Mugabe is
caught between a rock and a hard place: if
he wants to win, he cannot end
the violence. If he wants his victory to be
accepted by the rest of the
world, then he has to end the violence.
the rest of the world - except Libya, Malaysia, North Korea and Vietnam
will not accept his victory, then Zimbabwe would begin the long trek
the darkness of uncertainty and even the civil conflict about which
Mbeki warned us recently.
Matabeleland faces famine
12/29/01 9:05:37 AM (GMT
From Sandra Mujokoro in Bulawayo
FEARS of famine increased
in Matabeleland this week following revelations
that the region's main grain
silos in Bulawayo were empty.
Sources said there was little hope that
fresh maize supplies would arrive
Residents spent the Christmas
period scrounging for maize-meal amid erratic
supplies to the shops. Whenever
the staple food became available, it would
run out fast because of panic
Some people are now buying maize from as far as
Trucks from milling companies in and around Bulawayo have formed
queues at the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) premises anticipating
which only come in very few truckloads.
No comment was
immediately available from GMB officials yesterday, but
that it had resorted to buying from as far as Karoi, where
some maize is
On average a small to medium scale milling company would
need between 60 to
100 tonnes a day, but are now having to do with 60 tonnes
for a whole week,
while a bigger company would require much more.
manager of a local milling company said they secured 60 tonnes on
but this has already run out.
"We have been assured that there could be
something coming this afternoon,
but the GMB are a bit careless about the
truth. They always tell you that
there will be some supplies and you spend
the whole day queuing for
nothing," he said.
The vice-chairman of the
Small to Medium Scale Grain Millers' Association,
James Mangwana-Tshuma, said
some millers are buying from Hwedza, Sadza and
Buhera where there was still
some maize. It was impossible to pass on the
cost to the consumers because of
government price controls on maize meal, he
situation as critical, Mangwana-Tshuma said: "Our fears are
shortages are going to give some unscrupulous people an
opportunity to flood
the black market with maize at very exorbitant prices."
such as Bulateke, Victoria Foods and Induna Foods also
confirmed that they
were having difficulties coping with demand because
there is nothing at the
Gap Trading at Entumbane shopping complex said they last received
Renson Gasela, the MDC shadow minister for
agriculture, said that the
country needs more than 400 000 tonnes to take it
to the next harvest.
"This translates to about US$32 million - Z$1,76 billion
- which we know the
government does not have. If nothing is done urgently,
there is going to be
famine in this country," he said.
government appointed four banks to help raise about $24 billion to
the importation of 500 000 tonnes of maize and
140 000 tonnes of wheat to
avert famine in Zimbabwe before the presidential
About 3,5 million Zimbabweans have reportedly registered for
handouts from the government because of serious food shortages,
mainly by the wholesale seizures of commercial farms by war
The four banks are the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe, which is
partly owned by
South Africa's Absa Bank, Trust Merchant Bank, Interfin
Merchant Bank and
First Banking Corporation.
Senior Zanu PF officials grab land under new
12/29/01 8:51:34 AM (GMT +2)
UNCERTAINTY has gripped the commercial farming sector following
announcement by the government that about 800 commercial farms will
acquired under the new land acquisition laws which force farmers off
land in three months after government's announcement to
The government this week said about 700 commercial farmers had
with farm acquisition orders countrywide as the government
speeded up the
land reform programme.
Farmers served with acquisition
orders can remain on the farm but confined
to their houses which they would
vacate within three months according to the
amendments to the Land
A Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) spokesperson said: "The
problem is that
hundreds of commercial farmers have been told to leave their
farms but the
government has not said what is going to happen to their crops
on the ground
"Farmers have invested billions of dollars on the
crops planted this season
and will make serious losses if they leave the
crops on the farms."
The spokesperson said what is surprising is that
some farms were being
grabbed by top government officials who were demanding
eviction of the farm owners without negotiations. The intended
of the land reform programme, especially farm workers were not
resettled, the CFU spokesperson said.
The latest case is that of
Guy Watson-Smith and his family who fled to South
Africa after their two
farms in Beatrice were seized by Retired General
Watson is the CFU chairman for Mashonaland East.
invested more than $26 million on the crops he planted this year and
knows what is going to happen to the crops," the CFU
Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri is one of
the officials named in the
commercial farm land grab reports made in Shamva
Farmers issued with acquisition orders this month were expected
to leave in
March next year while those who received orders in November were
vacate their farm houses by January 2002.
said: "Section 8 orders under the Land Acquisition Act have
been handed out
throughout the country, irrespective of the stated
government criteria for
acquisition. To date there are 326 confirmed new
Section 8 orders. This
figure is in addition to the 500 odd issued before
Agricultural experts this year warned the government that
next year face serious food shortages if it embarked on the
reform programme that has seen top government officials
grabbing land while
the landless were being sidelined.
already faces serious maize shortages this year because
reduced plantings by 50 percent as a result of the land
taken over by "undeserving" officials have allegedly been
because they are not trained farmers.
The seizing of commercial farms by
government officials is against the Abuja
Agreement signed by Zimbabwe this
year which called for a transparent land
Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, however, this
argued that deserving people had been resettled and that 71 000
been settled under the A model, 210 520 families under the AI
while a further
54 592 had also been resettled under the A2 model.
The ministry claimed
that 336 112 families had been resettled out of a
national target of 500
This means that the government is expected to acquire more
if it is to meet this target.
earnings in real terms were - 8,37 percent in 2000
and fell by another 7,96
percent this year due to the disturbances caused by
Commercial farmers produce between 40 and 50 percent of the
total maize crop
under normal circumstances while 80 percent of the
flue-cured tobacco crop
is produced by CFU members.
contributes about 40 percent to the country's foreign
Zanu PF terror campaign spreads
12/29/01 9:09:26 AM
RESIDENTS of Mutoko and Murehwa
districts in Mashonaland East yesterday
telephoned The Daily News to complain
that Zanu PF supporters and war
veterans were allegedly torturing them at
bases they have set up.
In the past week, violence has rocked Zaka
district in Masvingo province,
Mataga in the Midlands, Bindura in Mashonaland
Central and parts of
Mashonaland West, where Zanu PF supporters have
virtually become a law unto
The police at Mutoko Police
Station yesterday refused to comment on the
allegations. A policeman said:
"My superiors are not here at the moment and
I cannot comment on that issue.
Maybe you can come here and wait for them.
We do not talk to people we do not
Richard Bote from Nyakuchena village in Katsande area said he
the youth brigade members by hiding at his home when six of them
during the night on Christmas Day, looking for him.
Advance, was not so lucky.
He said the youths confiscated his bag of
clothes and a cellphone because
they claimed he worked in Harare. He said
they told him he was an MDC
supporter and ordered him never to return to his
A caller from Mutoko South said several people without Zanu
PF cards were
being taken to Chidye Primary School, where war veterans are
alleged to be
operating a torture camp.
"At this school, people are
assaulted for failing to produce Zanu PF cards.
They are being accused of
supporting the MDC and the United Parties," the
Lost diary exposes CIO hit list
12/29/01 9:08:49 AM
From Our Correspondent in Zvishavane
MDC members of
the district and national executive here are living in fear
of attack by
State agents after a Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO)
diary was found with what the party believes could be a hit
diary belongs to CIO agent Brian Chidemo and was picked up by unknown
who handed it over to one of the six district leaders listed in it.
was not clear what the list was for, but five pages of notes in the
accused the MDC of engaging in nefarious activities, including
Part of the notes read: " . . . a paramilitary
force going under the guise
of AWC (Association of Women's Clubs) projects is
to prepare the ground for
a rerun (of parliamentary election) and recruit a
The MDC has denied the allegations, saying these were part of a
campaign to tarnish the image of the party.
"The purpose of these
allegations is to destroy the MDC in Zvishavane.
People become scared when
they know that they are being followed by the
CIO," said district information
and publicity secretary, Panganayi Dzvetera.
Chidemo was said to be away
on vacation and comment could not be obtained
from the CIO.
there is a plot to eliminate some party leaders in Zvishavane,"
said. "If anything happens to us, the CIO must carry the blame."
year, a crack police unit dispatched to this Midlands mining town
and tortured five MDC district executive members, accusing them of
illegal military training.
None of the charges were filed officially, nor
were they ever proved.
Dzvetera said the only connection between the MDC and
the AWC was that some
party youths attending workshops in Bulawayo had rented
The AWC is run by MDC external
affairs secretary, Sekai Holland.
Among those listed in the diary is Farai
Maruzani, the MDC candidate in last
Maruzani is seeking a rerun of the election, won by Zanu PF's
He confirmed that he had begun a process to have the
case heard at the
International Court of Justice at The Hague, in the
Netherlands as he did
not believe justice would be done in
Dzvetera said the party was seeking legal advice on what to do
He charged that the MDC was being prevented
from holding campaign rallies in
the district, and they suspected that the
police were passing information to
war veterans who disrupted their
Meanwhile, Blessed Chitoro, the son of the Zanu PF terror
Biggie Chitoro, has lived up to the saying "like father like
son" with a
string of violent attacks on innocent people. Last week, a police
fired into the air to stop the younger Chitoro and his gang from
patrons at a nightclub.
No arrests were
Meanwhile, more people fled their homes in Mberengwa this week
Chitoro threatened to kill MDC supporters in the
Chitoro, out on bail for allegedly murdering an MDC member during
year's parliamentary campaign, reportedly told villagers that he
attack all witnesses in the on-going kidnapping and murder cases
against him by MDC supporters.
Supreme Court judge Muchechetere dies
AM (GMT +2)
By Conrad Nyamutata Chief Reporter
judge, Justice Simbarashe Muchechetere, one of the most
officers in the country, has died. He was 57.
Muchechetere died of
malaria at his home in Bulawayo on Wednesday night.
Muchechetere collapsed as he walked out of the bathroom. A
doctor was called
to attend to him. The doctor found him frothing at the
mouth before he
Happison Muchechetere, his brother, said: "He had been unwell. His
said he had malaria. He left Harare for his home in Bulawayo on
He said his brother was likely to be buried in Bulawayo
Muchechetere was appointed to the High Court in 1985, and to
Court in 1992.
He was born in Gutu in
Muchechetere joined the Faculty of Law at the then University of
and Nyasaland when it was inaugurated in 1965, making him one of the
students in the faculty.
He graduated in
Muchechetere was forced by the prevailing political situation in
go to Malawi where he got articles with Lilley Wills and Company
practitioners. He then passed the English Solicitors law examinations
the Malawi Law Society examination as the law in that country
Soon after his admission he became a partner in the firm -
again the first
black person to attain that position in the
In 1975, he was detained for some months before he was deported
because of his support of the liberation struggle. He was later
the United Kingdom and came home after independence.
a few months in private practice, he was asked to join the
Office as a chief law officer.
He later became the Director of the Civil
Division in the Attorney-General's
Office. As head of the division, he was
instrumental in giving government
legal work to young black lawyers,
including Patrick Chinamasa, the Minister
of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary
As a Supreme Court judge, Muchechetere was part of a Bench
headed by former
Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay, which was largely viewed as
Gubbay was forced to resign in July this year after he fell
out with the
government. He was replaced by Godfrey Chidyausiku, a former
and government sympathiser.
LEADER PAGE Friday 28 , December
must act now before angry masses decide to
12/28/01 7:47:02 AM (GMT +2)
THE second day of December 2001 found me across the border
Gaborone, to be precise.
There was no reason for me to be
in Gaborone other than explain to Batswana
the tragedy that has befallen my
They just had to know and from who else better than myself, one
victims of the insecurity, the reign of terror and all?
wanted to tell them how everyone had pointed a suspicious finger at
for all the political and economic problems the country
Actually, I wanted to put it to Batswana that there
was no point in
pretending we wanted to be a community - a Southern African
Community (Sadc) - when we do nothing, as peoples, to pressure
governments to take meaningful steps to prevent man-made disasters
consuming innocent populations.
Batswana, for their part, are an
aloof lot. If you cannot speak their
language, then they will not bother to
speak to you, especially in a strange
foreign language and certainly you have
no reason being in their country.
You are a Mukwerekwere, a dark-skinned
person from the north who speaks an
unintelligible language with a
predominant kwerekwere sound.
A Motswana has no time figuring out what it
means and is certainly of no use
to his communication needs. Some attitude,
Their other problem is they are not keen to discuss politics
course, if it's Osama bin Laden.
He seems to have captured
their imagination like no other fugitive in
He is emblazoned
on their T-shirts but hated secretly. And, of course, they
love cars and
beer. They drink and drink until the cows come home . . . it
really, but when it is month-end, who cares?
Batswana love their beer.
They like it in cans - smart canned beer. But I
told them in their drunken
stupor that millions of Zimbabweans inside and
outside their country were not
going to be allowed to vote, that these are
the most frustrated people who
had seen the March 2002 ballot as only
democratic chance to redeem
I told them these developments were likely to have disastrous
the region as this group, which is growing by the day, chooses to
anger, the frustration any way.
In short, I told Batswana
that in Zimbabwe, ordinary people like them, who
wanted to go about their
everyday business of looking for provisions for
their families are confused
by the unreasonable demands placed upon them by
the political powers in the
They realise how it has become so difficult to fend for oneself,
up every day; their money is worth nothing - they want to be left
do their own thing, they want nothing to do with the dirty
they are beaten up and forced to take sides.
time also to read the papers. The Botswana papers maintained the
attitude of indifference towards the crisis at
Surprisingly, the papers, like the people, spoke excitedly about
war, the American blitz on Kandahar.
The Botswana papers
left the whole sordid business of informing the region
about Zanu PF's
waywardness to the South African Press, especially The
Sunday Times, except
maybe for 173 words on Dr Lovemore Madhuku's war with
The 2 December 2001 issue led with an article entitled,
turn on Mugabe - Mbeki urges Sadc to pile on pressure as
The report talks about South African President
Thabo Mbeki's fears of a
"deepening crisis" unless other countries in the
region and the Commonwealth
make "urgent intervention".
The report was
a catalogue of the contraventions of the Abuja agreement:
invasions; political intimidation; Zanu PF's bullying
party-engineered legislation all aimed at reducing
substantially MDC votes in
the forthcoming presidential election.
It was encouraging to realise that
what you have been saying to the people
is actually there on the papers, in
I could actually show it to them, it was exhilarating.
was a witness and all I had to say was, yes, it is true and they read
it voraciously to try and deduce what was wrong with us.
The fact that
some regional papers were actually talking about the crisis in
my country as
if it was happening on their doorsteps, ensured the flames of
would not go out.
The Sunday Times, as if to emphasise the point that
voting must be for all,
quoted Bheki Khumalo, Mbeki's spokesman, saying: "If
the elections are not
legitimate, the situation will be far worse than it is
"The President (Mbeki), therefore, wants to double efforts to seek
resolution to the crisis through Sadc and Commonwealth
It was promising and I pleaded, if ever there was anything
that needed to be
done for Zimbabwe, it was better to do it now before the
decided enough was indeed enough, took the law into their hands
liberated themselves the only way they know how.
Mudede accused of deleting names from voters'
12/28/01 7:38:41 AM (GMT +2)
Tsvangirai, the MDC leader, has accused the Registrar-General,
Mudede, of removing names of some people from the voters' roll.
urgent application filed in the High Court this week, Tsvangirai said
received numerous reports of names missing from the roll.
As a result, he
had decided to seek the intervention of the courts so that
Mudede, and the
Minister of Home Affairs, John Nkomo, could be interdicted
from removing any
person's name from the voters' roll.
Tsvangirai, through Harare lawyer
Bryant Walker Elliot of Gill, Godlonton
and Gerrans, also wants Mudede and
Nkomo to be ordered to reinstate all
persons who have been removed from the
voters' roll without complying with
sections 25, 30, 31 and 32 of the
In the application, the MDC leader requests the court to
order Nkomo to
extend the period stipulated in section 9 (7) of the
Citizenship of Zimbabwe
Act (Chapter 4:01) as amended by section 3 of the
In an affidavit attached to the urgent application, Tsvangirai
said: "I have
received scores of complaints by persons who were previously on
roll and who have been summarily and unlawfully removed from it
officials. These complaints have come from both Zimbabwean
eligible permanent residents.
"These removals are
unlawful because in so removing them, Mudede has not
complied with the
provisions of section 25 of the Electoral Act."
On the renunciation of
citizenship, Tsvangirai said he had been advised that
given by Mudede was wrong in law in that it was only
persons who are actually
citizens of a foreign country who have to renounce
that foreign citizenship
in terms of the law of that country.
Riot police beat MDC member to death
AM (GMT +2)
By Pedzisai Ruhanya
LABAN Chiweta, an MDC member
in Chiwaridzo suburb in Bindura, died on
Tuesday at Bindura Hospital after
being assaulted by armed riot police when
they raided a house sheltering
victims of Zanu PF violence.
Chiweta is the fourth MDC activist to die in
less than six days as political
violence intensifies throughout the country
ahead of next year's
The other three are Titus
Nheya, 56, of Karoi, who last year lost to Sabina
Mugabe, President Mugabe's
sister, in the Zvimba South parliamentary
election, Milton Chambati, 45, of
Magunje, and Trymore Midzi of Chiwaridzo
attacked by the riot police on 6 December, Chiweta, 24, had
left Trojan Mine
where he was staying after repeated assaults by alleged
Zanu PF supporters,
his brother, Kondowe Diyera, said yesterday.
He said his body was still
at the Bindura Hospital mortuary.
He would be buried at the mine, Diyera
Normington Dokotera, the MDC district secretary for Bindura, said
riot policemen armed with batons raided the house at
"We had about 40 people in that house who had fled political
parts of Mashonaland Central and Chiweta was one of them. They
with batons and clenched fists," Dokotera said.
matter was reported at Bindura police station, but the police
refused to comment, saying the officer-in-charge was away on
Dokotera said after the assaults in which Chiweta sustained head
body injuries, they took him to hospital where he was detained
"After his release, Chiweta complained of
persistent headaches. We took him
back to the hospital last Friday and he
died there on Wednesday," Dokotera
Nheya, Chambati and Midzi
were murdered by suspected Zanu PF militia from
the Border Gezi Youth
Training Centre in Mount Darwin.
Meanwhile, a postmortem report on Midzi
carried out at Parirenyatwa Hospital
by Dr Donald Nare Mapunda, said Midzi
died from multiple bruises, stab
wounds, abrasions, bruises and a skull
The doctor said sharp objects were used to kill Midzi, who will
today at Chiwaridzo Cemetery.
Learnmore Jongwe, the MDC
secretary for information and publicity, yesterday
In Mberengwa East, the notorious war veterans' leader Biggie
unleashed terror on villagers at Mataga growth
Chitoro was granted $25 000 bail on 11 November when he and
Shadreck Makoni and Enias Mavotsa appeared in court on a
The three allegedly kidnapped Fainos Zhou, an MDC official
in Mberengwa, and
severely assaulted him, resulting in his
Travellers who visited the area over the Christmas period were
interrogation as Zanu PF youths and war veterans waylaid them at
forcing them to chant Zanu PF slogans.
More than 200 youths are
camped at Chingoma Secondary School under the
supervision of Chitoro and
Elias Shiri, a teacher at Zvishava Primary
The youths stoned
the house of the MDC secretary for foreign affairs, Sekai
Holland, on Unity
Day because it housed MDC personnel.
According to one villager, Nanikai
Mukanda, two MDC activists, Dzidzisanai
and Tongai Hove, were kidnapped on
Friday, before being beaten up and
tortured at the camp.
retaliation, eight MDC youths went to demand the release of the two
forced their way into the camp to free the two on Saturday.
MDC youths were arrested and detained by the police.
"All hell broke
loose after the war vets came in trucks and started beating
everyone up. Some
of the people who had come for the Christmas holiday had
to leave on Saturday
because the situation was very tense," said Mukanda.
Holland said in an
interview on Wednesday the MDC and Zanu PF, represented
by the MP for
Mberengwa East and Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Rugare
Gumbo, and the
Midlands Provincial Governor, Cephas Msipa, had agreed to
hold urgent peace
talks with all concerned.
The police in Mberengwa declined to
Minister's son arrested
12/28/01 7:42:18 AM (GMT
By Collin Chiwanza
MAONA Chigwedere, the 25-year-old son
of Aeneas Chigwedere, the Minister of
Education, Sports and Culture, is
languishing in remand prison after he was
arrested by the police for breaking
into the Harare office of Elliot Pfebve,
the defeated MDC parliamentary
candidate for Bindura.
The minister yesterday confirmed Maona was his
He said: "He is my prodigal son. He has refused to go to school. I
give him examples of his brothers and sisters who have done very well,
whom I am very proud of, but he doesn't want to listen. This is why I
to him as my prodigal son. He likes money very much and he thinks he
have it through shortcuts."
Chigwedere's son allegedly stole
office equipment worth $374 000. Nothing
was recovered. Maona was granted $3
000 bail by a Harare magistrate, but
failed to raise the
Pfebve told the police that on 19 November, he placed an
daily newspapers for office space at Ivory House, along
Robert Mugabe Road,
A number of people responded to the
advertisement and Chigwedere's son was
among them. He allegedly came in the
company of another person, of Rwandese
Pfebve asked them
to pay a deposit of $9 000, which Maona did. He promised
to pay the
additional rental charge of $9 000 later, but he never did.
Maona and his
colleague were asked to produce company certificates and
photocopies of their
national identity cards and they promptly did so.
But a few days later,
it emerged that Maona was sleeping in the office.
Pfebve asked him about
this, but he denied doing so.
On 4 December, Pfebve locked up his offices
and went home. The following
morning, he discovered that the premises had
been broken into.
He subsequently asked Maona about the burglary. The
minister's son admitted
having broken the door, but asked for forgiveness,
saying he broke into the
offices because he did not have the keys. Nothing
was, however, stolen.
But a day later, Maona allegedly broke into
Pfebve's offices again and stole
a printer, computer hard discs and memory
chips worth $374 000.
Pfebve called him into his offices and asked him
about the burglary, but he
said he did not know anything about the
The matter was immediately reported at Harare Central Police
the officers there arrested Maona, cited as the prime suspect by
The police searched Maona's rented office and discovered a
pairs of trousers and shoes, which indicated that he was
living in the
During the search, the police also found a set
of screwdrivers and other
tools. They inquired what his line of business was,
but Maona could not say
what it was and there was no evidence that there was
any business activity
taking place in the office.
The police then
asked him where he lived and he took them to Number 23, Lido
Upon arriving at Maona's alleged home, the police were
told that he did not
live there. When they further interrogated him, he told
them his family
residence was in Marondera and that he was the son of Aeneas
Minister of Education, Sports and Culture.
minister, an author, historian and educationist, said he had on
occasions tried to counsel Maona but his son has refused to accept
"I did everything possible to advise him and to
demonstrate to him that he
was heading for disaster, but he would not listen.
He is indeed my son and I
will never deny that. I am proud of all my other
children who have done very
well in school and are doing very well for
themselves. Maona is just the odd
one out. That is why he is now in this
mess," he said.
Zimbabweans of Indian descent, hundreds of thousands with links
to Malawi and Mozambique, people with Greek ancestry - all are among millions
facing statelessness. Only a few anxious days are left before the January 6
deadline for people of foreign birth or descent to obtain proof they have
renounced any claim to foreign citizenship. The stringent legislation - which
will also strip the newly stateless of their votes in pending presidential
elections - was rushed through Parliament and signed into law last July by
President Robert Mugabe's government. He had accused whites, particularly an
estimated 30 000 of British descent, of responsibility for his defeat in a
crucial February 2000 constitutional referendum, and the strong showing of
Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change in parliamentary elections
four months later.
However, the requirement that people with a possible claim to
foreign citizenship produce proof they are not, secretly, dual citizens,
presents a greater nightmare for those with links to countries such as Malawi or
Mozambique (an estimated 1,5m people) than for those of European extraction. Up
to 12 000 Zimbabweans of Indian extraction also faced an insuperable problem
when Delhi's representatives announced they cannot provide consular services, in
the form of letters confirming recipients were not entitled to Indian
citizenship, to persons who were not Indian citizens. Officials under Zimbabwe's
registrar general Tobaiwa Mudede meanwhile declared that persons of obvious
Indian descent who were unable to produce such letters would be deemed to have
forfeited their Zimbabwean citizenship. The Indian High Commission has had
discussions on the issue with the Zimbabwean Ministry of Home Affairs, but no
resolution has been announced.
Greece has no provision in its law for someone with a claim to
a Greek passport ever to renounce it. One Zimbabwean with a
Mediterranean-sounding surname was curtly ordered by Mudede's officials to
obtain proof he was not a Mexican or Italian citizen. The "Catch 22" operated by
Mudede is well illustrated by the test case of Leslie Levente Petho, 41, turned
away because his parents fled Hungary during the 1956 rising against Soviet
rule. Born in Harare in 1960, he is now seeking leave of Judge Nicholas Ndou to
fight a class action in the High Court, backed by human rights' lawyers.
Mudede's officials demanded Petho obtain proof from Hungary's Pretoria embassy
he was not a dual Hungarian citizen. Hungarian officials replied that he would
have to apply for and be granted their citizenship before he could renounce it.
But, they added, his application would be refused, since his parents were
refugees and had not registered his birth in Budapest.
Zimbabwean law automatically strips a person of citizenship if
they apply for a foreign second citizenship, even if their application is
refused. When Petho applied to Judge Ndou to institute his class action, Mudede
argued Petho should be refused permission since he is "not typical of
Zimbabweans of foreign parentage", who now seek to challenge the new citizenship
law. Contradicting his own earlier claim that Petho might secretly be Hungarian,
Mudede told the judge Petho's parents were stateless, so his was a unique case.
The judge is considering his ruling. Mudede said his officials wished to "treat
every case on its own merits", a ploy human rights groups say opens the way for
political and racial discrimination, and corruption. A recent US State
Department report alleged bribery was common in Mudede's department. A Zimbabwe
High Court judge, George Smith, has also accused the registrar general's office
of countenancing widespread malpractice against Mugabe opponents in
Zimbabweans of British descent were warned by the High
Commission to submit applications for proof they have renounced any potential
claim to British citizenship by December 12. However, long queues which formed
outside the city centre building continued to the end of the week. Some elderly
pensioners living on monthly incomes of Z$4 000 (£50 at the official rate)
cannot pay fees of up to Z$13 000 to renounce their claim to British
citizenship. Part of the fee is calculated at the Zimbabwean "parallel" or
"black market rate" for sterling, which can fetch as much as Z$500 to one pound.
The South African High Commission make no charge on Zimbabweans seeking proof
they have renounced any claim by descent to their citizenship, and are
understood to be processing over 40 a day. In London, Foreign Office Minister
Baroness Amos has rejected an appeal by a Conservative member of Parliament
Keith Waterson to waive or reduce the British fees in cases of distress. She
said the fees were a "statutory duty" and overseas missions ``do not have
authority to waive them". A spokeswoman at the British High Commission in Harare
said staff had been "very busy" handling citizenship renunciations but refused
to give numbers. Professor Welshman Ncube, MDC constitutional spokesman, pledged
to reverse the citizenship laws if Tsvangirai wins presidential polls scheduled
for March. "You cannot legislate for people's loyalty," he said.
Friday, 28 December, 2001, 17:35 GMT
Court victory for Zimbabwe farmer
Around 1,700 white-owned farms have been
The first farmer to sue individual Zimbabwean Government
ministers over land reform has won a victory in the first stage of his battle to
get his farm back.
Guy Watson-Smith launched proceedings against two government ministers and
the former head of the national army after he was ordered to leave his farm in
Last week he also appealed for a relief order allowing
him to reclaim machinery, animals and game from his farm, which is on prime land
100km from the capital, Harare.
Mr Watson-Smith will be allowed to reclaim
On Friday the High Court ruled that Mr Watson-Smith should be allowed
protection to collect his property from the farm.
In a statement, the farmer welcomed the judge's ruling and said he looked
forward to the sheriff going to the farm with police to remove property worth
But the BBC's Alistair Leithead says the decision does not necessarily mean
Mr Watson-Smith will be able to return safely.
Mr Watson-Smith will continue his case against the Zimbabwean agriculture
minister, a local housing minister, a former commander of the armed forces and a
war veteran, from South Africa, where he, his wife and elderly parents are
staying with relatives.
"I've come to South Africa with the family because there's an element of
danger. We're taking senior government officials to court and the people that I
consulted - and my own gut feeling - was that we couldn't take the risk of doing
it from within the country," he told the BBC.
said he believes his farm will be given to a high-ranking Zimbabwean official
close to the government and not distributed to the poor.
The feeling of apprehension and fear in the run-up to the
presidential election is growing every day
Zimbabwean farmer Greg Watson-Smith
His court action comes amid reports of increasing violence and intimidation,
including the recent murders of four opposition members, ahead of the
presidential elections due in March.
"Everyone - and I mean all sections of the Zimbabwean community - is holding
their breath and waiting for these presidential elections to be over with," he
"I think the situation is deteriorating. The violence is most definitely on
the increase. The feeling of apprehension and fear in the run-up to the
presidential election is growing every day. It's not a happy country."
President Robert Mugabe's land reform programme has been marred by violence
since government supporters, calling themselves war veterans, began occupying
white farms 18 months ago demanding that they be redistributed to landless
An estimated 1,700 white-owned farms have been occupied over the past 18
months, and police have largely failed to stem the accompanying violence.
Last month the country's Supreme Court ruled that the land reform programme
complied with the constitution, removing the last remaining legal obstacle
preventing the government from processing claims to white-owned farms.
New Zealand Herald
Mugabe determined to silence
By BASILDON PETA
HARARE - President Robert Mugabe
has never had much of an ear for dissenting
views. This year, the Zimbabwean
leader's intolerance of the media reached
its most extreme level since he
took the helm of this impoverished country
The year opened
with the bombing of a printing press owned by Zimbabwe's
daily newspaper, the Daily News, on January 28.
It closed with the
introduction of a law intended to close all independent
Access to Information Bill, due to be passed on January 8,
journalists and obliges local journalists to apply for licences
It vests sweeping powers in Mugabe's chief propagandist, the
minister Jonathan Moyo, who will select who works in the media.
outbursts against proponents of freedom have become
predictable. Last week, he described British Prime Minister Tony
Blair as a
"boyish leader" and an "ignoramus".
Five days before the
bombing of the Daily News, the 77-year-old President's
Government had vowed
to implement all measures necessary to silence the
media, saying it had
become "a threat to the security of the nation".
It banned private radio
and television stations, entrenching the state's
monopoly control over
broadcast media. Civic Society activist Mike Auret
jun, who had set up a
private radio station, immediately went into hiding
and has not been heard
from since. His equipment was seized by the police
and the Army, and the
studios of Capital Radio destroyed.
During the year, at least 24
journalists were assaulted by Mugabe's
supporters while trying to report on
farm occupations. Commercial farms have
effectively become no-go areas for
In one of the assaults, Collin Chiwanza of the
Daily News escaped death only
by hiding in the bush for two days. The Daily
News' editor, Geoffrey
Nyarota, and others virtually ran their newspapers
from prison cells as the
police regularly arrested newsroom chiefs. At least
Nyarota was recognised
abroad; he won four international journalism awards
during the year.
There were other arrests. Mark Chavunduka, editor of the
detained over an accurate report that Mugabe had been sued in a
court by families of 36 opposition supporters murdered by the
the run-up to last year's parliamentary elections. A New York
ruled against Mugabe, saying he was liable for the
Three foreign correspondents, including David Blair of the Daily
and Joseph Winter of the BBC, were, with varying degrees of force,
In August, the Standard revealed the existence of a
hit list of journalists
to be harmed or killed by the Government. Topping
that hit list was myself,
the Independent's correspondent in Zimbabwe.
Packets of bullets were left on
my doorstep on three occasions, with notes
saying I would be dead before
March's presidential election.
November, Mugabe's Government formally labelled me and five other
journalists as terrorists. It then approved the Public Order and
Bill (POSB), which imposes death and life sentences on anyone
Both the POSB and Access to
Information Bill forced a December Commonwealth
Ministerial Action Group
meeting to put Zimbabwe on its agenda - the first
step towards suspending the
country from the 54-nation grouping.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's economy
virtually collapsed, with foreign currency
reserves drying up and donor
agencies withdrawing from the country.
Inflation, below 50 per cent at
the start of the year, soared to 103 per
cent this month. The unemployment
rate rose to 60 per cent. The Chief
Justice, Anthony Gubbay, was fired and
Mugabe appointed a loyalist to take
charge of the Supreme Court. About 110
opposition supporters were killed.
But for many of us in the media,
despite all the enormous risks we now face,
the struggle continues against
Mugabe's tyrannical and despotic rule.
How could it not? He is
MOVEMENT FOR DEMOCRATIC
Building Fund for the MDC
Progress Report No. 2 Period 8/12 -
The building team made up of supporters have made
incredible progress since renovations commenced, in spite of the bulk of the
workforce being picked up for questioning by the police at one time or another.
Operations were totally brought to a halt on one occasion as a result of these
actions. Was this a set back? No.They worked harder to catch up. Such is the
enthusiasm that exists and will never be extinguished.
It was boasted that in the last report of the 9th
December that the offices could be occupied by the 21st December 2001. The
photograph of Tembe helps confirm that she took occupation on the 17th
December. A rather impatient Vice President checks progress whilst the Election
Director passes in his usual impassive manner.
The four main offices at the rear of the
building were all occupiable by the 21st December. A grateful thanks to all who
made this target achievable! It would not be fair to say that they are 100%
complete as glazing ( 2hrs work ) plumbing to the toilets, (a
bit longer) and general finishings need to be completed. All electrical plugs
and lights in this section are operational.
The next thrust is to complete the front section of
the offices. This is planned for occupation by the 1st February 2002. Already
the burnt out wooden floors have been replaced with concrete. Window openings
have been altered and walls have been strengthened to take the newly designed
roof, which together with the new windows, will provide a more functional and
aesthetic frontal elevation. In spite of the imposed price control on bricks,
which created an immediate shortage, sufficient numbers were obtained to
fulfil our requirements to replace front office walls.
The annual closure of the building industry and
associated suppliers, curtailed activities so operations ceased on the 21st
December and will recommence on the 2nd January 2002.
None of this would have been possible with out your
support! A grateful thanks to all who have made a financial donation or in
There is still a long way to go for the final thrust.
We have to again appeal to our supporters generosity to complete the change. The
press advert is shown below for ease of reference but we have to remind you that
WE CAN ONLY ACCEPT FUNDS FROM ZIMBABWEAN SOURCES, as fundraising for political
parties from external sources is illegal under Zimbabwean law.
From The Guardian (UK), 28
Pro-Mugabe militias kill four rival
Harare - Militias which back Robert Mugabe are blamed for
killing four members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
during the past week, raising fears of a wave of state-sponsored murders before
the presidential elections due in March. One MDC supporter, Milton Chambati, 45,
was beheaded by 50 followers of Mr Mugabe's Zanu PF party in the small
north-western hamlet of Magunge, according to local reports. Many witnessed the
gruesome murder. In Karoi north-west of Harare, Titus Nheya, 56, was stabbed to
death allegedly by Zanu PF militiamen on December 21. As the MDC's parliamentary
candidate for the area, Mr Nheya lost to Mr Mugabe's sister, Sabina, in the June
2000 elections. Trymore Midzi, 24, an MDC official in the northern town of
Bindura, died on Boxing Day after being stabbed and assaulted by men in the
para-military uniforms of the militia, according to the MDC. Laban Chiweta, 24,
also died on Wednesday, from head wounds and burns he received from Zanu PF
militiamen in the town of Trojan Mine. The MDC alleges that the men who killed
Chiweta were trained by Zanu PF's political commissar, Elliot Manyika.
The holiday killings bring to 87 the number of MDC supporters
who have been killed in state-sponsored violence, according to the opposition
party. The recent murders come amid reports that followers of Mr Mugabe, 77, who
has been in power for 21 years, have established bases across the country and
are stepping up a campaign of intimidation. "This government is using millions
of dollars of public money to set up terror training camps to train a private
army that is given state sanction to kill, abduct, torture and maim," an MDC
statement claimed. War veterans and other Mugabe supporters have said that the
rural areas of the Mashonaland provinces, where all four of the Christmas
killings took place, are "no go" areas for the MDC. The state-owned news media,
meanwhile, repeatedly charge that "the MDC and its British sponsors" are
spreading violence. But they have very little evidence to back up the
From The Daily Times (Malawi), 28
Muluzi calls for SADC summit on
Blantyre - Southern African Development Community (SADC) chair
President Bakili Muluzi has called for an extraordinary two day summit for heads
of states in Blantyre next month in a last ditch effort to stop the violence in
Zimbabwe. The 14 member organisation, which has been blamed for failing to stop
Mugabe's seizure of white-owned farms and victimisation of his political foes,
according to Sanjika Palace press office will meet from January 13 to 15. "The
President just mentioned it and there are no details yet," the Sanjika Palace
spokesperson Chinduti Chirwa said yesterday. But Daily Times found out yesterday
that government has gone ahead and booked Le Meridein Mount Soche hotel from
13th January to 15th 2002. "All the other reservations from 1 January have been
dismissed following the SADC summit," said the reservations desk yesterday.
Muluzi's move comes after numerous calls from South African
President Thabo Mbeki who is under increasing pressure from Western leaders to
tame Mugabe. South African newspapers reported last week that Mbeki has been
asking his Malawian counterpart to call for a meeting. His efforts resulted in a
meeting of SADC ministers in Harare early this month where ministers voiced out
their opposition to sanctions and backed the Zimbabwean leader. The Blantyre
summit, which Malawi hosts for the second time this year, comes fast on the
heels of a high powered delegation of the African National Congress who met
Mugabe to persuade him halt the violence. SADC leaders in August discussed
Zimbabwe in camera and mandated Muluzi to oversee are peaceful transition in
Zimbabwe as the country goes to the polls in March next year.
From The Cape Times (SA), 27
Zimbabwe asks banks to raise R4bn
Harare - President Robert Mugabe's government has hurriedly
appointed four banks this week to help raise about R4-billion to finance the
importation of 500 000 tons of maize and 140 000 tons of wheat to avert famine
in Zimbabwe before the crunch presidential election in March. About 3,5 million
Zimbabweans have reportedly registered for urgent food handouts from the
government because of serious food shortages, caused mainly by the wholesale
seizures of commercial farms by Mugabe's militant supporters. Ministry of
finance officials said the four banks had been provided with a government
guarantee due to expire in 2006. They are to raise the money through the
issuance of five-year bonds. The four banks are the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe,
which is partly owned by South Africa's Absa Bank, Trust Merchant Bank, Interfin
Merchant Bank and First Banking Corporation. If the bonds fail to attract
investor interest, as some analysts predict, and the banks fail to raise the
R4bn, this would create more headaches for Mugabe's ruling Zanu PF party, which
is battling to mollify a largely disenchanted electorate ahead of the election.
The decision to appoint the four banks came barely a week after Mugabe's
government made a sudden policy U-turn and allowed the World Food Programme to
mobilise and distribute R720m in urgent food aid worth to more than 500 000
starving Zimbabweans in the southern provinces.
From The Independent (UK), 28
We'll ignore the death threats to
fight this despot
President Robert Mugabe has never had much of an ear for views
divergent from his own. In 2001, the Zimbabwean leader's intolerance of the
media reached its most extreme level since he took the helm of this impoverished
country at the end of white rule in 1980. The year opened with a resounding
warning to the media: the bombing of a printing press owned by Zimbabwe's only
independent daily newspaper, The Daily News, on 28 January. The year closed with
the introduction of a despicable media law, intended to lead to the closure of
all independent publications in Zimbabwe.
The new Access to Information Bill, due to be passed by
Parliament on 8 January, bans foreign journalists from working in Zimbabwe and
obliges local journalists to apply for licences every year. The Bill vests
sweeping powers in Mr Mugabe's chief propagandist, the information minister
Jonathan Moyo, who will personally select who works in the Zimbabwean media. Mr
Moyo's hatred of every basic tenet of democracy is now on public record and his
vituperative outbursts against proponents of freedom have become depressingly
predictable. Last week, he described Tony Blair as a "boyish leader" and an
"ignoramus" who should at "best be in charge of a kindergarten school".
Anyone who thought the destruction of The Daily News’s printing
press was as bad as it was going to get, was naive. Five days before the
bombing, the 77-year-old president's Government had vowed to implement all
measures necessary to silence the media, saying it had become "a threat to the
security of the nation". It soon passed a Bill that banned private radio and
television stations and entrenched the state's monopoly control over the audio
visual media. The Civic Society activist Mike Auret Jr, who had dared to set up
a private radio station, immediately went into hiding and has not been heard
from since. His broadcasting equipment was seized by the police and the army,
and the makeshift studios of Capital Radio completely destroyed.
During the year, at least 24 journalists working for the
private media were brutally assaulted by Mr Mugabe's supporters when they tried
to report on farm occupations by the ruling party's militants. Commercial farms
have now effectively become no-go areas for independent journalists as word has
spread that we are enemies of the regime. In one of the assaults, Collin
Chiwanza of The Daily News only escaped death by hiding in the bush for two
days. Prominent professionals, such The Daily News's editor, Geoffrey Nyarota,
virtually ran their newspapers from prison cells as the Zimbabwe police
regularly arrested newsroom chiefs from the non-Government media. At least Mr
Nyarota was recognised abroad; he won four international journalism awards in
There were other arrests. Mark Chavunduka, editor of The
Standard, was detained over an accurate report carried in his paper that Mr
Mugabe had been sued in a New York court by families of 36 opposition supporters
murdered by the Government in the run-up to the June 2000 parliamentary
elections. A New York District Judge later ruled against Mr Mugabe, saying he
was liable for the deaths. Three foreign correspondents, including David Blair
of The Daily Telegraph and Joseph Winter of the BBC, were, with varying degrees
of force, shown the door, never to return. An expose by The Daily News that the
police had aided the looting of white farms caused the arrests of six of its
journalists in June. In virtually all of the 30-plus arrests of reporters and
newspaper managers, the police could not produce formal evidence to pursue the
charges in court. It all confirmed that the detentions and intimidation were
purely intended to break our morale.
In August, The Standard revealed the existence of a hit list of
journalists to be harmed or killed by the Government. Topping that hit list was
myself, The Independent's correspondent in Zimbabwe, and the only black
journalist writing for the British media. Prior to its publication, I had
received numerous death threats. Packets of bullets were left on my doorstep on
three occasions, with notes stating that I would be dead before the 2002
presidential election in March. In November, Mr Mugabe's Government formally
labelled me and five other journalists working for the foreign media as
"terrorists". It went on to approve the Public Order and Security Bill (POSB),
which imposes death and life sentences on anyone accused of assisting
Both the POSB and Access to Information Bill forced a December
Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group meeting to put Zimbabwe on its agenda -
the first step towards suspending the country from the 54-nation grouping.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's economy virtually collapsed with foreign currency reserves
drying up and multilateral donor agencies withdrawing from the country.
Inflation, which was below 50 per cent at the start of the year, soared to 103
per cent in December. The unemployment rate rose to 60 per cent; key
manufacturing firms folded. The Chief Justice, Anthony Gubbay, was fired and Mr
Mugabe appointed a loyalist to take charge of the Supreme Court. About 110
opposition supporters were killed in 2001 and many more casualties are expected
as Zimbabwe approaches the March presidential election.
But for many of us in the media, despite all the enormous risks
we now face, it's "Aluta Continua'' against Mr Mugabe's tyrannical and despotic
rule. How could it not be? He is wrong.