The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

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BBC
 
Monday, 6 January, 2003, 12:05 GMT
Zimbabwe food riots spread
Food queue in Harare
Half of the population needs food aid
Four police officers have been injured in a dormitory town near Harare, when youths attacked people queuing for food on Sunday, police have said.

In the second city of Bulawayo, there is tight security around the courthouse, where 39 people are appearing in connection with food riots on Friday, reports the French news agency, AFP.

Up to six million people, half of the population, are suffering from food shortages according to aid agencies.

Meanwhile, President Robert Mugabe has moved to tighten his control of the main cities, which are opposition strongholds, by announcing that he will appoint governors for both Harare and Bulawayo.

Correspondents say that governors enjoy considerable power and they are likely to be used to sideline opposition mayors in both cities.

'Green Bombers'

Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said that about 200 people were queuing up for mealie-meal, the scare staple food, when a group of youths attacked the police who were controlling the crowd.

"In the process of controlling the crowd, some youths came and disrupted the queue resulting in four police officers being injured," Mr Bvudzijena told AFP.

Robert Mugabe
Mugabe blames colonialism for Zimbabwe's problems

Opposition supporters have been prevented from receiving food aid and even from buying food in urban areas, says the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and donor agencies.

But it is reported that activists from Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party were behind the disturbances in both the town of Chitungwiza, 23km south of Harare, and Bulawayo.

The privately owned Daily News reports that "Green Bombers", graduates of a government-run youth training scheme, were involved in the Chitungwiza riots.

The police said they had not identified the culprits.

In Bulawayo, a group of "war veterans" was dispersed by riot police when they tried to protest outside the courthouse on Monday.

State media have accused the "war veterans", who have been used to intimidate opposition supporters, of organising Friday's food riots.

They were apparently unhappy at the unfair distribution of food.

The state-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation reported that residents had accused grain board officials of corruptly supplying maize to unscrupulous millers, who then sold it on at exorbitant prices.

'Laughable'

Zimbabwe's eight largely rural provinces already have governors, who also sit in parliament.

Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo denied that the new governors would make the opposition mayors redundant and said they would coordinate development.

But MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyati told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme that it was "laughable" for the government, which had presided over a 22-year decline in services, to say it would now turn things around.

The new governors would usurp the powers of the elected mayors, he said.

Opposition parties point the finger of blame at Mr Mugabe and his government for the food shortages because of disruption caused by his controversial programme of land reform.

The president says the cause of the crisis is a combination of a drought and a Western imperialistic plot aimed at keeping power in the hands of Zimbabwe's whites.

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IOL

Could Zim food riots spark Mugabe's downfall?

      January 06 2003 at 04:32PM



Harare - Food riots in two towns in Zimbabwe could be the start of a
showdown between President Robert Mugabe's government and a restive
population facing shortages of most basic goods, commentators warned on
Monday.

Rioting broke out on Friday outside a government-run grain depot in
Zimbabwe's second largest city, Bulawayo, and 34 people were arrested.

On Sunday, four police officers controlling a food queue were injured in
clashes with youths who besieged a shop that had received scarce supplies of
the national staple, maize meal, in Chitungwiza, 23km south of Harare.

"I think it's a symptom of food availability and distribution problems and
that could be the beginning of many more riots," Brian Raftopolouos,
chairperson of a civic group called Crisis in Zimbabwe, said.

"What happened in Bulawayo and Chitungwiza is just a tip of the iceberg of
what has been happening elsewhere. These are just spontaneous reactions to a
crisis," said Lovemore Matombo, president of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions (ZCTU).

While some commentators predict full-fledged riots soon, others are of the
opinion that there could be sporadic unrest which will eventually fizzle
out.

John Makumbe, a political scientist and anti-government activist, said
"worse trouble" may be expected around March or April when the current
farming season ends and it will be clear whether there is enough food in
Zimbabwe.

"Then we will see sustained civil strife across the country," he forecast.

"I think the food riots could very easily result in the government being
kicked out of office. I think this regime is ready to run away if things get
out of hand. I think we could have a full-fledged riot," Makumbe said.

Labour leader Matombo said after the clashes in Bulawayo and Chitungwiza
that "anything can happen anytime now".

"The time is coming when there will be no food and we will see people rising
to the occasion," Matombo said.

But Raftopolious believed there "could be sporadic riots, but nothing on a
mass scale, unless the opposition and civic groups organise."

Zimbabwe is in the throes of crippling food shortages which threaten more
than two-thirds of a population of 11,6 million people.

The shortages are mainly attributed to the drought that has ravaged southern
Africa but critics also blame Mugabe's controversial land reforms, which
have seen white-owned commercial farms seized for redistribution, for
worsening the food crisis.

Zimbabwe needs to import more than 300 000 tons of maize by March to
alleviate the crisis, but supplies are only trickling in at 22 000 tons a
week, according to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

The government has refuted accusations that food in some rural areas is
being distributed along political party lines, especially where people rely
on food handouts.

In some areas, relief food takes weeks or months to arrive and people rely
on eating wild fruits and roots of trees. A weekly documentary programme
made by the Roman Catholic church for state television has shown families
relating their moving plight.

Many have hardly one meal every day.

Food security agencies in southern Africa have warned that Zimbabwe and
other countries are likely to experience another drought as normal to below
normal rainfall is forecast by metereologists.

Basic goods such as sugar, salt, cooking oil, maize meal and bread - the
prices of which are controlled by government - are hardly available in shops
but can be found on the black market usually at 10 times the controlled
price.

Inflation runs at more than 175 percent and the United Nations last year
said three quarters of the population is living in abject poverty.

Zimbabwe is not only facing a crippling shortage of food, but lacks other
basics like petroleum-based fuels as well. - Sapa-AFP
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Amazing Ingenuity Award.



Zimbabwe Standard (Harare)

January 5, 2003
Posted to the web January 6, 2003


This one goes to Anne Matonga, the innovative British woman who arrived here
recently and immediately benefited from the Third Chimurenga more than most
Zimbabweans have done, when she and her Zimbabwean husband became the proud
new owners of a well developed farm. With a straight face, she
enthusiastically helped kick off her kith and kin, the former white owners
of the farm, on the grounds that "their" ancestors had stolen the land from
"our" ancestors!

Now this is the calibre of British person we welcome in this country. An
enthusiastic revolutionary and prospective farmer, as soon as comrade Annie
had unpacked her bags, she set about pruning the two or three rose-bushes in
the farm yard, ensuring Zimbabwe will soon be awash in foreign currency from
flower exports by at least one 'new farmer.' Husband Bright, was awarded a
plum job as head of one of the loss-making government parastatals as soon as
he dropped off the plane from London, where he had authored some
scintillating revolutionary articles against British imperialism



Don't let those sneaky, self-serving and utterly shameless British get their
hands on our ancestors' land again, Annie! It all sounds like incredible
fiction-goodbye forever cramped London council flat! I wonder if her workers
call her 'Comrade Annie' in the spirit of the revolution, or does she prefer
the more traditional 'madam'?

I hope we don't have an Animal Farm situation here, where all animals are
equal in rhetoric and theory, but in reality some pigs are more equal than
others

* To be continued next week.
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IRIN
 

ZIMBABWE: ZANU-PF official calls for transparency in maize distribution


©  WFP

Close to seven million Zimbabweans are in need of food aid following critical shortages countrywide

JOHANNESBURG, 6 Jan 2003 (IRIN) - A top ZANU-PF official has called for greater transparency in the distribution of the government's grain resources, echoing calls made by several NGOs and the opposition who have accused the ruling party of manipulating access to supplies.

The call by Jabulani Sibanda, the ZANU-PF regional chairman in the southern city of Bulawayo, came after two clashes over the weekend between protestors and police outside government-controlled Grain Marketing Board (GMB) distribution depots.

Thirty-four people were arrested following violence at the depot in Bulawayo on Friday, reportedly between "war veterans" and police. In a similar incident, four policemen had to be treated in hospital on Sunday after clashes between youths and police monitoring a food queue in Chitungwiza, south of Harare.

"We want a transparent system and we want a local task force to distribute [food] to local people as they know the people better. They will know who received [supplies] yesterday," Sibanda told IRIN. "There should be a more transparent system because even if there is nothing to distribute, [without transparency] people will feel something is being hidden."

Sibanda refused to elaborate on alleged problems with current distribution methods, but the online Sunday News quoted him as saying: "Maize is there but it is not reaching the intended consumers but instead the maize is being used by 'big fish' to spin money."

He also reportedly accused the police of not investigating allegations of illegal maize sales after being supplied with addresses of offenders.

However, the newspaper also reported that the chairman of the provincial task force alleged that Sibanda and his "war veterans and gullible party supporters" were hampering the work of GMB officials, and that he had allegedly dissolved the government task force putting himself and "war veterans" in charge.

Sibanda denied the allegations.

The newspaper reported Nicholas Goche, the minister of state for security, as saying that a call at the recent ZANU-PF conference that war veterans be represented on local provincial task forces had been misconstrued to mean they should replace the existing task forces.

Last year the Danish organisation, Physicians for Human Rights, the Bishop of the Catholic Church in Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, and the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Association alleged in separate statements that Zimbabwe's scarce maize supplies were being distributed on party lines in some districts.

They said that in some cases residents had to produce proof of membership of the ruling party to be elible to purchase the staple food.

Denying the allegations, press secretary in the Ministry of Information, Steyn Berejena, told IRIN: "The food is distributed by the government officials but people assume that civil servants are party people, which is not the case. The problem is, we have shortages. People are not branded, they don't have marks ... how do you tell which political party they support?

"Some of these areas are undersupplied and demand is greater than supplies and when people go to the GMB they might not find grain available," Berejena said.

Last month the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) questioned the government's claim that it had imported 600,000 mt of grain, saying that shortages on the ground did not reflect this.

The World Food Programme (WFP) reported on Monday that beef, chicken, bread, flour, maize meal, milk, and sugar continued to be absent from supermarket shelves and fuel shortages were ongoing.

In addition, soft drinks and cigarettes were now becoming scarce. There have been shortages of cash reported as well, with banks restricting amounts that can be withdrawn.

WFP said its implementing partners had distributed just under 20,000 mt of food aid during December in 32 districts.

Close to seven million Zimbabweans are in need of food assistance as a result of drought and the government's controversial land reform programme.

[ENDS]

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Nassau Guardian

Those who crave power shouldn't have it
 I'm sure that there are many in my reading audience right now, who really
think that I've 'Flipped my Lid', as they say, having seen the title of
today's article. But My Friend, I'm not backing off, I really do fully
believe, and have indeed believed for many years, that the elected
governments of the world, are not comprised of the best available talent.

Those who run for office in any country, are people who by and large crave
power. And My Friend, it is my contention, that when a person desperately
needs that power, it is because of their deep feelings of inadequacy, their
feelings of insecurity. These people badly need power in order to feel like
they're really someone, for in reality, they don't feel good about
themselves, deep down within their subconscious mind. These are not the
people who should be running the governments of the world. It is because of
the fact that we have so many totally unqualified people, who are very
insecure and thus crave power over others, administering the everyday
affairs of government, that the world is in so much trouble right now.

Down through history, politics has produced some real tyrants, many despots.
Why even today, there are several Leaders, who are absolute Dictators and
cling to power by imprisoning and killing their own people. Most notable,
are Castro of Cuba, Mugabe of Zimbabwe, and Hussein of Iraq. Yes My Friend,
there is no doubt whatsoever in my mind, that the people who are running the
governments of the world, are for the most part, not the right people. Many
of the people whom I observe in government are completely clueless, and yet
they are so very arrogant in so many ways. Yes My Friend, as the title of
this article so correctly states 'Those who crave power shouldn't have it'.

Well you may say, how then are we to get people who are qualified and who
don't desperately crave power, to run the governments of the world? Are you
advocating an end to the electoral process, as we know it? Yes I am, let me
explain further.

I wrote a novel several years ago 'Pax 2020' which was not published. Maybe
the time is NOW for this novel to be published. I wrote in that novel, about
the fact, that by and large, all of the wrong people are being elected to
office throughout the world, people who are grossly incompetent, and who
crave power to deal with their shattered 'Ego's', to compensate for their
deep feelings of inadequacy.

I suggested that we get rid of elections as we now know them, and instead
have a 'Secret Formula', whereby the computer elects the members of a
government. I'm no mathematical genius, nor am I proficient in the art of
computer science. However, I'm quite sure, that there are suitably qualified
people who could come up with such a 'Formula', which would allow the
computer to select the members, who would serve as the government for the
next five years (just one term-in office per person).

Those elected would then meet in conclave and elect their Leader. The Leader
would then appoint his cabinet, based solely on their qualifications to do
the job. Of course, the various Ministries would still be run by seasoned,
qualified, professionals to ensure continuity.

Before such a 'Computer Formula' election, all of the citizens would pray to
God, to allow the computer to elect the most suitable, and indeed qualified
people. In other words, God would be in charge of the whole process. I
believe that it would work, but like any 'Revolutionary Concept', it will
take time and education for people to buy it.


THINK ABOUT IT!

Dr. D. Paul Reilly's radio programme Time To Think is aired each Monday
through Friday on both ZNS 1 1540 AM and ZNS 3 8.10 AM at 7:15 each morning.
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MSNBC

Zimbabwe to put governors in urban opposition areas



HARARE, Jan. 6 - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's government is
introducing the new post of governor for the country's two main cities,
which are now run by opposition mayors, the official Herald newspaper
reported.
       The country's capital Harare and the second city of Bulawayo have
elected executive mayors from the main opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC), who have in the past complained of interference from Mugabe's
government.
       On Monday the Herald quoted local government minister Ignatius Chombo
as saying the new governors for Harare and Bulawayo would not usurp the role
of the opposition mayors.
       ''Chombo said that the development would neither make the three
executive mayors of Harare, Bulawayo and Chitungwiza redundant nor frustrate
their work. The changes bring the two pure metropolitan provinces into line
with the other eight provinces,'' the Herald said.
       It was not clear when Mugabe would appoint the two new governors, a
move that comes amid growing international criticism of his government's
hardline tactics against political opponents.
       Zimbabwe already has governors for the other eight provinces who are
appointed by Mugabe and are also members of parliament for his ruling
ZANU-PF party.
       The Herald quoted legal experts as saying while the Provincial
Councils Act allows Mugabe to appoint more than eight governors, Zimbabwe's
constitution only sets aside eight parliamentary seats for the post.
       The MDC won 57 out of 120 contested parliamentary seats at June 2000
elections, but two subsequent by-election defeats and the death of an
opposition legislator and expulsion of one last year have trimmed the number
down to 53.
       Mugabe's ZANU-PF enjoys a comfortable majority in the house thanks to
30 additional seats reserved for chiefs, governors, and non-constituent
members of parliament appointed by the president.
       Mugabe, who has been in power since leading Zimbabwe to independence
in 1980, says the MDC is a puppet of the West led by former colonial ruler
Britain, which wants to see him ousted in retaliation for his seizure of
white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks.
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IMF Aid Unlikely



Zimbabwe Standard (Harare)

January 5, 2003
Posted to the web January 6, 2003

Kumbirai Mafunda


A HIGH-powered IMF delegation is scheduled for annual consultations in
Harare next month, Standard Business has gathered

The delegation will be headed by Doris Ross, the mission chief for Zimbabwe,
and is expected to hold meetings in the first half of February with
officials from government, the ministry of finance, the Reserve Bank and
civil society, among other stakeholders


The talks fall under the organisation's Article IV rules of consultation and
will mainly focus on the country's economic and fiscal policies. At the end
of the consultations, the mission is expected to draw up a report on
Zimbabwe which will be presented to the IMF board in Washington for
discussion

Last June, the IMF adopted a declaration of non-cooperation with Zimbabwe
and suspended technical assistance over Zimbabwe's overdue financial
obligations to the fund. The initiation of a procedure on the suspension of
the country's voting and related rights in the fund was also mulled

IMF resident representative, Gilbert Johnson, confirmed the visit saying it
would be part of the fund's routine consultation meetings

"This consultation is the comprehensive review we have with every member
country and it will focus mainly on important issues affecting the economy.
It will be concluded by a discussion of our board," said Johnson

The IMF-fact finding mission would recommend that the executive board of the
Bretton Woods Institution releases blocked funds, if satisfied by the
outcome of Article IV consultative talks

However, the visit comes at a time when President Robert Mugabe's government
is increasingly flirting with command economics

Finance and economic development minister, Herbert Murerwa, admitted that
his government will meet the lending institution next month but refused to
divulge what precisely would be discussed

"It's an Article IV consultation meeting which all countries hold with the
IMF. We will be discussing various issues with them," said Murerwa

Commenting on government's prospects of appeasing the delegation, John
Robertson, an independent economic consultant, said: "We don't deserve any
aid as we have become so accustomed to bad behaviour. We've got to get our
act together." According to Johnson, Zimbabwe's total financial obligations
to the IMF totalled about US$300 million (about Z$16,5bn at the official
rate), with arrears standing at US$190 million as of last month

What this story means: If the government's house was in order, the IMF visit
would be an opportunity to lure back investors and the much needed foreign
currency.
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Ananova

      'Honk against Mugabe' charges dropped

Prosecutors in Zimbabwe have dropped charges against two opposition leaders
arrested for encouraging drivers to protest against Robert Mugabe by honking
their horns.

Movement for Democratic Change lawmaker Abednico Bhebhe and senior aide
Ferdinand Dropper were arrested while putting up "Hoot, enough is enough"
posters.

Lawyer Nicholas Matonsi said prosecutors dropped the case when the pair were
scheduled to appear in court in the western city of Bulawayo.

Prosecutors reserved the right to summon the opposition leaders to court
later, but Mr Matonsi said: "It is a way of conceding they don't have a
case. I think it's the end of the matter."

Bhebhe and Dropper were the first to start putting up the protest posters in
Bulawayo.

Police wanted the men to be charged under new security laws - claiming their
protest campaign could have endangered public safety by inciting violence
and disorder.

The charges carried a maximum sentence of five years in jail. In November,
the government made it illegal to make offensive gestures at Mugabe's
motorcade.


Story filed: 15:21 Monday 6th January 2003
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Fuel Deal: Bank Denies Any Wrongdoing



The Herald (Harare)

January 6, 2003
Posted to the web January 6, 2003

Harare

NMBZ Bank Limited, which together with Royal Bank Limited are being accused
of scuttling efforts to import fuel into the country, last week denied any
wrongdoing.

The bank's deputy managing director, Mr James Mushore, said the commercial
bank had acted above board as the financial adviser for the National Oil
Company of Zimbabwe.

Narrating events that led to the collapse of the US$180 million fuel deal,
Mr Mushore said it all started when Noczim was approached by consulting
companies, Frontline Marketing and Milbourne Pitt and Hardy.

The consultants proposed to supply fuel through a US$180 million line of
credit arranged in conjunction with a South African commodity-broking firm,
Prospects SA Investments trading as African Transformation Brokers.

It is alleged that the line of credit had been secured from ABN Amro Bank.

"The conditions for the fuel supply appeared to be very favourable, with
supplies of fuel being delivered almost immediately, while a grace period of
six months was being given before any repayment for the fuel was required.

"However, when ATB requested a payment of US$25 million from Noczim to
unlock the fuel line of credit, NMB advised its client to ensure that proof
of the existence of the line of credit was provided by the foreign bank
purported to be proving the line.

"Despite many promises over several weeks, neither ATB nor the consultants
have been able to provide proof.

"Consequently, NMB advised its client, Noczim, not to make payment of US$25
million and repaid Noczim the cash deposit that Noczim had made to NMB for
the creation of a sinking fund to service commitments under the fuel supply
deal together with market-related interest," he said.

Efforts to get a comment from the Frontline Marketing and other companies
involved in the deal were fruitless.
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Economy: Outlook Bleak



Zimbabwe Standard (Harare)

January 5, 2003
Posted to the web January 6, 2003

Conrad Dube


WITH only a week into 2003, analysts predict an even tougher year as long as
the economic fundamentals implemented in 2002 remain in place. "There will
be no respite as long as Foreign Currency Accounts (FCA's) remain closed and
the requirement to remit 100% of foreign earnings to RBZ remains in
place-its going to be a tough year," said an analyst with the Merchant Bank
of Central Africa

For the week ending 2 January, 2003, the industrial and mining indices rose
by 122, 9% and 167,75% to 102 434,13 and 6 526,15 respectively, despite
trading in low volumes in the absence of major players


Analysts said exporting counters might continue on the down side due to the
current exchange regulations. Most exporting counters have been sustaining
their operations through the parallel market which the government is now
cracking down on

The Zim dollar remains overvalued as the government insists on maintaining
it at the current fixed level, possibly to finance its expenditure. The
government accesses cheap money from the domestic market at the current Zim
dollar value

At the beginning of 2002, the ZSE index rose by 115,59% to 99 037,13 points,
with counters such as Astra, Apex and Bicaf rising by as much as 1 200% .
Unlike previous years, the industrial index was no longer driven by
financials, which were among the top losers for the year as investors
shifted focus to manufacturing counters (mainly exporting and consumer
counters)

The industrial index surpassed the 100 000-point mark several times, and
reached an all time high of 130 899,59 on 11 November, the same day the
mining index reached a high of 11181, 20

"The announcement of the budget led to a massive crash of the market whose
performance remained in negative territory ahead of the festive season. This
was mainly because export driven counters that were being preferred by
investors in the hyperinflationary environment were now required to remit
100% of their foreign earnings to the RBZ," said another analyst

However, 2002 was the most eventful on the local bourse with two delistings,
six new listings and suspension of a stock broking firm-Continental
Stockbrokers. The number of listed insurance companies rose to five with the
listing of NicozDiamond in October through a successful initial public
offer. Barbican listed through a reverse listing of Haddon & Sly

TZI also demerged and listed ART which has since been performing well

Another highlight of the year on the ZSE was the successful unbundling of
THZ into three separate entities-General Beltings, Steelnet and Turnall
Holdings. Pelhams became the final subsidiary to be unbundled from Delta.
But it is indigenisation which led the way in 2002, with shareholding in
companies like Interfresh, Zimsun, Clan and Tedco changing hands over the
last six months

Company closures are likely to characterise the new year with Bindura Nickel
Corporation issuing a cautionary statement that the company may not continue
operations. Intermarket is expected to reverse list through Zimnat, while
First Mutual is expected to conclude the demutualisation process

What this story means: Low volumes of trade are likely to characterise the
first quarter of the year, as investors are likely to trade cautiously. The
market might record gains around March when companies begin to announce
year-end results.
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ABC News Australia

Govt urges caution in Zimbabwe
The Department of Foreign Affairs is urging Australians visiting Zimbabwe to
maintain a high level of personal awareness.

The warning follows the weekend murder of an Adelaide man.

The 27-year-old, whose name has not been released, died after being stabbed
several times as he walked from a rainforest at Victoria Falls.

Foreign Affairs department spokesperson Julie McDonald says the Australian
High Commission in Harare is sending consular officials to the area

"They'll be pursuing inquiries with the local authorities," she said.

The department says early reports indicate the man was a victim of a robbery
attempt that went tragically wrong.

Acting Prime Minister John Anderson says Australian authorities will
continue to keep a close eye on the situation in Zimbabwe.

"The Department of Foreign Affairs closely monitors issues where Australian
travellers abroad may be concerned," he said.

The department is not upgrading travel warnings to the area at this stage

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Mugabe's games
Evening Standard comment
6 January 2003
Sporting boycotts are a vexed issue. In many cases, maintaining contacts
with a country ruled by an objectionable leadership is a more likely way of
effecting change there than cutting off links entirely. However that does
not apply in the case of Robert Mugabe.

Zimbabwe was suspended from the Commonwealth almost a year ago after Mugabe
blatantly rigged an election. The European Union and the US have imposed a
range of economic sanctions against the country. In these circumstances it
is extraordinary that the International Cricket Council should have chosen
to host some of next month's World Cup matches in Zimbabwe.

It handed Mugabe respectability he does not deserve and a propaganda weapon
he has exploited. There is still time for the ICC to see reason and
reschedule the six Zimbabwe games to grounds in neighbouring South Africa,
where most of the tournament will be played. But if that does not happen,
there should be no question of England playing in Harare on 13 February.

As we have argued before, the Zimbabwe match must be boycotted, as the
opposition in the country recommend. It is, understandably, a difficult
decision for the English cricketers and the England Cricket Board to make.
Under the rules, England would forfeit the match and - possibly - any chance
of progressing in the competition. This would be a sacrifice for them -
particularly after their stirring victory in Sydney today.

But if they made it they would deserve the respect of the nation. If they
play they would merit disgrace.

The Government must clarify its position. It is not good enough for a few
ministers to suggest the game should be boycotted. The Government as a whole
should say unequivocally and unambiguously that the cricketers must not go.

The England captain, Nasser Hussain, and his players would find it hard to
ignore a direct appeal to boycott the match from Tony Blair, should the
Prime Minister choose to make one. Sometimes, there are more important
things than sport.
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East London Dispatch

Mugabe's eleven takes on World Cup

LIKE the debates around the death penalty and abortions, it is interesting
to hear how different people with different agendas argue the pros and cons
of Zimbabwe hosting some Cricket World Cup matches.

Personally I don't understand how someone who is against the death penalty
could be pro-abortion. And vice versa. If you are a pro-lifer (against
abortions), how come you favour the death penalty?

But invariably one finds the opposite. In my book a pro-lifer should be
anti-capital punishment, while an abortionist should support the death
penalty. Makes more sense.

To get back to cricket.

This government, which in the apartheid years strongly supported the
isolation of South African sport, is in favour of matches being played on
its northern neighbour's pitches.

''We cannot have a situation where cricket authorities are now being
pressured to reverse a decision that could jeopardise the staging of this
global event in Africa,'' says Sports Minister Ngconde Balfour, who
incidentally failed the Mail & Guardian's annual report card for cabinet
performance.

Now who on earth pressured this country's cricket authority to reverse the
selection of batting star Jacques Rudolph? And whose party lobbied for the
isolation of South African players during the apartheid years?

Is there a difference between Mugabe and Verwoerd -- other than their
colour -- when it comes to human rights abuses?

On the other hand, the opposition vehemently supports the British,
Australian and New Zealand governments, which called for a boycott of the
Zimbabwean matches.

As they responded at the insistence of the ANC and others when they
boycotted South African sport.

Also consistent in its view is South Africa's biggest daily newspaper, the
Sowetan, which came out in favour of a ban on Zimbabwe, which it probably
advocated against apartheid teams as well.

''The exclusion of Zimbabwe as a venue is intended as a moral statement,
emphasising our collective outrage over Mugabe's disregard for democratic
norms.

''By ensuring Zimbabwe is left out of the international cricket loop, the
world would signal its utter disdain for Mugabe's unwillingness to reform
and restore his country to a constitutional democracy.''

But opposition parties, like the Afrikaner Unity Movement, which opposed
sport boycotts in apartheid days have now changed their tune.

The AUM's Cassie Aucamp even uses the earlier ANC slogan of "no normal sport
in an abnormal society" as it was applied against the apartheid government
to propagate his viewpoint.

The Democratic Alliance, which I always thought would call for
non-interference by politicians in sport, says the International Cricket
Council should boycott Zimbabwe.

My view, as much as I dislike Mugabe, is that there should be
non-interference by politicians. Innocent Zimbabweans, many opposing
Mugabe's rule, should not be deprived of watching cricket because of
politics.

I agree with Balfour. But for different reasons. He's calling for the
matches to take place because -- as Movement for Democratic Change leader
Morgan Tsvangirai says -- South Africa has become part of the Zimbabwe
problem.

Why else would the ANC host a Zimbabwe cabinet minister at its congress?

My view is that politics should be kept out of sport.

Even 72-year old Dennis Streak, who was imprisoned for three days by
Mugabe's thugs and had three quarters of his farm seized, gives his son,
Zimbabwe cricket captain Heath Streak, the thumbs up for his public support
for the country to keep the six matches.

And World Cup executive director Ali Bacher describes the call for a boycott
as unacceptable.

He would, wouldn't he?

Bacher is at the helm of the cricket showpiece, but was he not also the one
who organised the rebel cricket tours to this country before the fall of
apartheid?

Who's who?

As the M&G report card showed, can anyone still take Balfour seriously?

Except those in the ANC, who wanted to vote him on the executive. Shows you
that John "Superman" Ncinane's rise (and fall) in the party was not an
oversight.

The Sunday newspaper Rapport rates the Sports Minister's uncalled for and
uncouthly remarks about Jacques Kallis as one of the big blunders of the
year. "Who is Kallis?" were Balfour's now infamous words.

The minister will still find out, suggested the newspaper.

Sooner rather than later.

Reacting to the Proteas' first Test win over Pakistan, Balfour singled out
man-of-the-match Kallis for another ''splendid'' performance.

''Jacques has again displayed that he is one of the world's greatest all
rounders and he will play a crucial role in the team in the weeks ahead.''

Jacques who, Mr Minister?

Service cuts

Defaulters of the pre-paid electricity meters had reason to be thankful to
Buffalo City mayor Sindisile Maclean, who gave them an opportunity to buy
pre-paid cards over the festive season.

Janet Botha (no relation), who is not a defaulter, was not smiling though.

When she went to the municipal payment hall on January 31 at 9.45am to
arrange for a debit order to pay her rates, she found the door closed.

Because, as she was told, they were partying that day.

Follow my leader

Poor Safety, Liaison and Transport MEC Dennis Neer, who got caught by one of
his own traffic officers for speeding on the N2 freeway on Christmas Eve.

Neer should rather have speeded on the R72 to the Fish River Sun on
Thursday.

A friend, who drove down in the morning and back in the afternoon, says he
never saw one of Neer's traffic vehicles.

Maybe all were escorting the MEC's car since his excuse that he speeded
because he was ''being followed by a suspicious-looking vehicle''. Mr MEC,
many of the vehicles on our roads look suspicious.

Suspiciously unroadworthy!
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Business Day

      Presenting a straight bat to Zimbabwe

--------------------------------------------------------------------------
      To expect politicians to make moral judgments on behalf of everyone is
wrong
      CRICKET is a weird and wonderful game at the best of times. It is
played by just a handful of nations around the globe, mostly parts of the
former British empire. Its rules are arcane and its conduct is mysterious. A
full game lasts for days on end and few can afford the time to pursue every
twist of fate that will decide defeat or victory.

      Precisely because it is played by countries such as India, Pakistan,
Australia, SA and Britain, cricket remains a game with a global reputation.
That is why it matters that the international administrators of the game
have decided to hold a series of qualifying matches in Zimbabwe for this
year's World Cup.

      It is an extraordinary decision, given what is happening there. More
than 6-million people are at risk of starvation because of the chaos,
corruption and incompetence of the Zimbabwean government. Rigged elections
with massive intimidation of voters resulted in the return to power last
year of President Robert Mugabe.

      His government stands accused of a host of human-rights abuses,
including detention without trial of political opponents, torture, beatings
and killings and blatant discrimination in the distribution of desperately
needed food supplies. A programme of seizure without compensation of estates
from white farmers has caused a collapse in commercial agriculture.

      Urban shops are empty of basic food supplies such as maize, flour and
bread. Inflation is rampant and fuel is running out. In short, the
government of Zimbabwe is presiding over an economic collapse and widespread
famine, largely of its own making.

      Nobody who has made the slightest attempt to follow the news can fail
to be aware of those facts. Yet dozens of the finest cricketers in the
world, and their administrators, are pleading ignorance. They say they
cannot decide whether it would be right to call off their games. They want
their governments to do so for them.

      English cricket captain Nasser Hussain says it is "ridiculous to
suppose that the England captain and management have the time to sit down,
watch CNN and BBC World and come to the informed moral judgment which it is
necessary to make about going to Zimbabwe".

      He wants the government to set up some body "to make this moral
decision about Zimbabwe on our behalf". It is Hussain who is ridiculous. The
idea that politicians and governments alone can and should make moral
judgments on behalf of everyone including sportsmen is very wrong. But the
danger is that such thinking is becoming increasingly pervasive, not least
as a result of the fears of global terrorism.

      Whether they like it or not, sportsmen and women have a particular
responsibility. When they represent their countries they become wittingly,
if regrettably, icons of patriotism. Sport and politics have become
inextricably mixed. That has been true since Adolf Hitler used the 1936
Olympics to promote his racial ideology.

      Staging World Cup cricket matches in Zimbabwe is a political decision.
So is a decision not to hold them there. Sports administrators have to make
political judgments.

      The organisation that should call off the games is the International
Cricket Council, not individual governments. Indeed, if Britain and
Australia order a boycott, Mugabe will be delighted: it will confirm his
propaganda that his country's plight is entirely attributable to the
prejudice of white governments.

      But sports stars are not alone in wanting to avoid making moral
judgments about nasty countries. As tourists, tens of thousands of us do it
frequently. We travel the world in pursuit of the exotic, to countries such
as Indonesia, Burma, Cambodia, Cuba, Syria and Tunisia, to name but a few,
declining to ask any leading questions about human rights or political
processes.

      As the recent bombs in Bali and Mombasa demonstrated, tourists from
the developed world are now seen as fair game for terrorists. That is a
random threat against which better intelligence may be the only protection.
But some visitors do too little to relate to local people. Their conspicuous
consumption in the midst of developing-world poverty highlights the divide
between rich and poor. The fact that most developed world visitors have no
knowledge of local politics and conditions, let alone any interest in them,
makes the divide even more potentially explosive.

      The ignorance is as true of hedonists heading for the beaches as of
backpackers heading for the hills. They move on well-trodden trails and
never linger long enough to understand the country.

      Like Hussain, increasingly we expect our governments to warn us when
things might be getting nasty, whether the threat is of terrorism or
political instability. Perhaps they can help but it is not enough.

      Those who participate in sport and travel should be prepared to make
informed judgments about where they are going. If human rights are being
abused, they should find out how and why. If they cannot be bothered, they
should stay at home. Financial Times
      Jan 06 2003 07:47:52:000AM Quentin Peel Business Day 1st Edition

       Monday
      06 January 2003
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Mugabe bans imports of food
January 6 2003
By Peta Thornycroft
Murambinda, Zimbabwe





Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is refusing to let his citizens import
food, a decision that is condemning millions of people to shortages, United
Nations officials said at the weekend.

More than 5000 people gathered at Viriri School, Murambinda, south of
Harare, to collect handouts of corn, beans and oil from the World Food
Program.

Patience Mukondomi, 31, was not given any. As a teacher she has a job, and
therefore does not qualify for aid.

"There is nothing in the shops. We have money, but there is no food to buy.
Please sell us some," she implored officials.

But Luis Clemens, a food program spokesman, said that doing so would be
against the rules. "We cannot sell food, however much we want to help
people," he said.


The Zimbabwean Government has awarded a monopoly on trading in grain to a
government agency, and there are countless verified reports from opposition
supporters that they have been denied permission to buy this food.

At the food program distribution centre another desperate woman, with a baby
on her back, said her husband was in the army and so she, too, did not
qualify for food aid.

"We are starving," she said. "Even if my husband sent money, which he
doesn't because I am the second wife, there is no food to buy."

About three million people receiving food from the food program, and half of
those are on the brink of starvation. Mr Mugabe undertook to feed the rest,
but has been unable to find foreign currency to import anything but a
trickle of grain from South Africa.

"Private importation of corn would change the situation dramatically," said
Mr Clemens. "We have made the offer to facilitate the importation of food,
but there is no change in policy."

He said the food program would need to continue its Zimbabwe operations
beyond April, when harvests are due.

Few crops have been planted by the inexperienced farmers who replaced more
than 4000 white commercial farmers evicted in the past three years under the
government's land reforms.

Teresa Madamombe, 41, a mother of five, said: "This is the first time in our
lives there is no food to buy. In 1983 and in 1992 there was drought, but we
could buy food, but not now, and I do not know why."

She said she knew nothing of the destruction of Zimbabwe's commercial
agriculture. "We do not get news here, we are far from the commercial farms.
Have they all gone?"

A thin young man overheard the conversation, sidled up and whispered: "There
is no food because of politics. You must know that. Industries which make
food have closed down now that the farmers have gone.

"We can't talk politics because there has been violence here, but we do know
why we have no food."

- Telegraph
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Horse and Hound (UK)
 
Starving horses rescued
By Caroline Tomalin

The first horses rescued from starvation following the troubles in Zimbabwe have arrived in South Africa

A Scottish riding instructor who has been organising a fundraising effort to save horses caught up in the troubles in Zimbabwe has told Horse & Hound Online that the first two loads have reached South Africa safely.

Twenty-eight horses are now at a rehoming centre in Pretoria. Another load is expected later this month.

Organiser Kirsten Harris said: “It's taken two to three weeks to get them here from Bulawayo in Zimbabwe. There's been a lot of problems with paperwork, veterinary tests and vaccinations which have to take place to control diseases in wildlife in Africa.”

Kirsten became involved in the project to rescue the horses via friends in Zimbabwe where horses were being left to starve or were shot by vets to put them out of misery after farmers were evicted from their land.

“It's been amazing what has been achieved by a group of women getting together by e-mail. Everybody knows somebody in the team that has put this together, with people in Harare, Bulawayo and South Africa,” said Kirsten.

“It was the fundraising in Britain which made it happen. We raised £20,000 and got another £2,000 from the ILPH.

"The rescue operation is in communication with the South African Horse Trust, which has links with the ILPH. The horses are being rehomed according to the league's guidelines.”

If you want to help this fundraising mission: The Zimbabwe Horse Rescue Fund, c/o 21, Charlotte Square, Edinburgh, EH2 4DS.

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Zimbabwe killing boosts fears over Cup matches 07.01.2003 By HELEN TUNNAH, AGENCIES

The murder of an Australian at the Zimbabwean resort of Victoria Falls reinforces fears for the safety of cricketers and tourists in the country during next month's cricket World Cup, NZ Foreign Minister Phil Goff said yesterday.
He said he remained hopeful, but not confident, that the International Cricket Council would still decide to transfer cup games out of Zimbabwe in protest at the regime of President Robert Mugabe.
A 27-year-old Adelaide man died on Saturday after being repeatedly stabbed in an apparent robbery at Victoria Falls.
His killing follows the shooting of a United States tourist at a police roadblock in the eastern town of Mutare late last year.
Mr Goff said the main worry about Zimbabwe's hosting World Cup matches - six involving the home team are scheduled to be played there - was the likelihood that President Mugabe would use the tournament as an indication that his policies and actions were acceptable and that life in Zimbabwe was normal.
Mr Goff said the death of the Australian reinforced the wisdom of the New Zealand Government's warning against all but essential business travel to the southern African state.
"From the viewpoint of safety," the minister said, "while I'm sure special efforts will be made to protect those teams that are there, given the unpredictability of the Mugabe regime we would have ongoing concerns about the safety of spectators as well as players." New Zealand News ©Copyright 2003, New Zealand Herald  



Ananova: 'Honk against Mugabe' charges dropped

Prosecutors in Zimbabwe have dropped charges against two opposition leaders arrested for encouraging drivers to protest against Robert Mugabe by honking their horns.
Movement for Democratic Change lawmaker Abednico Bhebhe and senior aide Ferdinand Dropper were arrested while putting up "Hoot, enough is enough" posters.
Lawyer Nicholas Matonsi said prosecutors dropped the case when the pair were scheduled to appear in court in the western city of Bulawayo.
Prosecutors reserved the right to summon the opposition leaders to court later, but Mr Matonsi said: "It is a way of conceding they don't have a case. I think it's the end of the matter."
Bhebhe and Dropper were the first to start putting up the protest posters in Bulawayo.
Police wanted the men to be charged under new security laws - claiming their protest campaign could have endangered public safety by inciting violence and disorder.
The charges carried a maximum sentence of five years in jail. In November, the government made it illegal to make offensive gestures at Mugabe's motorcade.
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Mugabe showdown looms after riots Harare  06 January 2003 16:18
Food riots in two towns in Zimbabwe could be the start of a showdown between President Robert Mugabe's government and a restive population facing shortages of most basic goods, commentators warned on Monday.

Rioting broke out on Friday outside a government-run grain depot in Zimbabwe's second largest city, Bulawayo, and some 34 people were arrested.

On Sunday, four police officers manning a food queue were
injured in clashes with youths who besieged a shop which had received scarce supplies of the national staple, maize meal, in Chitungwiza, 23 kilometres south of Harare.

"I think it's a symptom of food availability and distribution problems and that could be the beginning of many more riots," says Brian Raftopolouos, chairman of a civic group called Crisis in Zimbabwe.

"What happened in Bulawayo and Chitungwiza is just a tip of the iceberg of what has been happening elsewhere. These are just spontaneous reactions to a crisis," said Lovemore Matombo, president of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU).

While some commentators predict full-fledged riots soon, others are of the opinion that there could be sporadic unrest which will eventually fizzle out.

John Makumbe, a political scientist and anti-government
activist, said "worst trouble" may be expected around March or April when the current farming season ends and it will be clear whether there is enough food in Zimbabwe.

"Then we will see sustained civil strife across the country," he forecast.

"I think the food riots could very easily result in the
government being kicked out of office. I think this regime is ready to run away if things get out of hand. I think we could have a full-fledged riot," Makumbe said.

Labour leader Matombo said after the clashes in Bulawayo and Chitungwiza that "anything can happen anytime now".

"The time is coming when there will be no food and we will see people rising to the occasion," Matombo said.

But Raftopolouos believed there "could be sporadic riots, but nothing on a mass scale, unless the opposition and civic groups organise".

Zimbabwe is in the throes of crippling food shortages which
threaten more than two-thirds of the population of 11,6 million.

The shortages are mainly attributed to a drought which has
ravaged southern Africa but critics also blame Mugabe's
controversial land reforms, which have seen white-owned commercial farms seized for redistribution, for worsening the food crisis.

Zimbabwe needs to import more than 300 000 tons of maize by March to alleviate the crisis, but supplies are only trickling in at 22 000 tons a week, according to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

The government has refuted accusations that food in some rural areas is being distributed along political party lines, especially where people rely on food handouts.

In some areas, relief food takes weeks or months to arrive and people rely on eating wild fruits and roots of trees. A weekly documentary programme made by the Roman Catholic church for state television has shown families relating their moving plight.

Many have hardly one meal every day.

Food security agencies in southern Africa have warned that
Zimbabwe and other countries are likely to experience another drought as normal to below normal rainfall is forecast by meteorologists.

Basic goods such as sugar, salt, cooking oil, maize meal and bread, whose prices are controlled by government are hardly available in shops but can be found on the black market usually at 10 times or more of the controlled price.

Inflation runs at more than 175% and the United Nations last year said three quarters of the population is living in abject poverty.

Zimbabwe is not only facing a crippling shortage of food, but other basics like petroleum-based fuels. - Sapa-AFP



Zimbabwean food riots 'tip of the iceberg' 6/1/03 HARARE - Food riots in two towns in Zimbabwe could be the start of a showdown between President Robert Mugabe's government and a restive population facing shortages of most basic goods, commentators warned on Monday.

Rioting broke out on Friday outside a government-run grain depot in Bulawayo and some 34 people were arrested.

On Sunday, four police officers manning a food queue were injured in clashes with youths who besieged a shop which had received scarce supplies of the national staple, maize meal, in Chitungwiza, 23km south of Harare.

"I think it's a symptom of food availability and distribution problems and that could be the beginning of many more riots," Brian Raftopolouos, chairman of a civic group called Crisis in Zimbabwe, said.

"What happened in Bulawayo and Chitungwiza is just a tip of the iceberg of what has been happening elsewhere. These are just spontaneous reactions to a crisis," said Lovemore Matombo, president of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU).

While some commentators predict full-fledged riots soon, others are of the opinion that there could be sporadic unrest which will eventually fizzle out.

John Makumbe, a political scientist and and anti-government activist, said "worst trouble" may be expected around March or April when the current farming season ends and it will be clear whether there is enough food in Zimbabwe.

"Then we will see sustained civil strife across the country," he forecast.

"I think the food riots could very easily result in the government being kicked out of office. I think this regime is ready to run away if things get out of hand. I think we could have a full-fledged riot," Makumbe said.

Labour leader Matombo said after the clashes in Bulawayo and Chitungwiza that "anything can happen anytime now".

"The time is coming when there will be no food and we will see people rising to the ocassion," Matombo said.
But Raftopolious believed there could be sporadic riots, but nothing on a mass scale, unless the opposition and civic groups organise."

Zimbabwe is in the throes of crippling food shortages which threaten more than two-thirds of the population of 11.6 million.

The shortages are mainly attributed to a drought which has ravaged Southern Africa but critics also blame Mugabe's controversial land reforms, which have seen white-owned commercial farms seized for redistribution, for worsening the food crisis.

Zimbabwe needs to import more than 300,000 tonnes of maize by March to alleviate the crisis, but supplies are only trickling in at 22,000 tonnes a week, according to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

The government has refuted accusations that food in some rural areas is being distributed along political party lines, especially where people rely on food handouts.

In some areas, relief food takes weeks or months to arrive and people rely on eating wild fruits and roots of trees.

Food security agencies in Southern Africa have warned that Zimbabwe and other countries are likely to experience another drought as normal to below normal rainfall is forecast by metereologists.

Basic goods such as sugar, salt, cooking oil, maize meal and bread, whose prices are controlled by government are hardly available in shops but can be found on the black market usually at 10 times or more of the controlled price.

Inflation runs at more than 175% and the United Nations last year said three quarters of the population is living in abject poverty.  AFP
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Fearing assassination, Mugabe supports 'boycott' of Zimbabwe
AFP
Johannesburg, January 5
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe would support Australia and England boycotting the World Cup in his country because he fears the matches might create an opportunity to assassinate him, a South African newspaper reported on Sunday.
The Sunday Independent reported that Mugabe told his government that he does not want the English or Australian teams in Zimbabwe for next month's matches because their parties might include officials plotting to kill him.
Mugabe's cabinet had persuaded him that the matches should be allowed to go ahead, but only after giving the President assurances that he would be given increased security, the report added.
Quoting Zimbabwean government sources, the newspaper said Mugabe strongly believes that Britain and other "western detractors" were working with the Zimbabwean opposition on a plan to kill him.
"The fact is that Mugabe would rather not have these people here ... he thinks after humiliating (British Prime Minister Tony) Blair at the Earth summit and after the failure of the West to remove him from power, the focus is now on killing him," an official who declined to be named, told the newspaper. "He thinks British intelligence is working full-time on that."
His ministers, however, told him that hosting the matches would be a major diplomatic coup for Zimbabwe.
The cabinet agreed that Mugabe's spy agency, the Central Intelligence Organisation, could assign at least three agents to each British and Australian cricketer or official visiting the country.
It also supported the bugging of the visitors' accommodation,telephone lines, and closely monitoring their movements.
The governments of Britain and Australia have called on their teams to boycott World Cup matches in Zimbabwe, but have so far stopped short of ordering the squads to withdraw.
The governments argue that playing matches in Zimbabwe would tantamount to endorsing Mugabe's regime, which stands accused of human rights abuses and rigging presidential elections in March.
Howard considers compensation
Sydney: Australian Prime Minister John Howard on Sunday said his government would consider contributing to the cost of a boycott of World Cup cricket matches scheduled to be played in Zimbabwe.
Howard said playing in Zimbabwe would strengthen the "undemocratic" regime of Mugabe.
"I'm aware of some of the financial implications involved and speaking from the Australian government's point of view, that's something we'd obviously be willing to talk about," Howard told ABC radio during the fifth Ashes Test between Australia and England here.
"If there are difficulties in relation to that... we don't want to see any of the cricketers' associations get affected financially."
Howard said discussions of a boycott were ongoing but only the United Kingdom and New Zealand have so far supported the proposal. The International Cricket Council has ruled that there is no reason why the six World Cup games scheduled for Zimbabwe should not proceed and warned that boycotting countries will have to forfeit points and could be liable for lost revenue.
The British government has already ruled out offering compensation to encourage a boycott.
Howard repeated his previous insistence that any boycott should be agreed to by all affected nations, saying it would be unfair for the Australian team to act unilaterally. He said it was difficult to isolate sport from politics and noted playing World Cup matches in Zimbabwe would give prestige to the Mugabe government. If it goes ahead as planned, it will on balance, strengthen his position," he said. © Hindustan Times Ltd. 2002.
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Comment from ZWNEWS, 6 January

The New Year message Zimbabwe needs: Mugabe fools no-one

By Michael Hartnack

For the past three years Robert Mugabe's policies and their effects have been denounced again and again as "insane." Industry has been destroyed, millions of Zimbabweans forced to emigrate, and now the onset of famine is threatening some eight million lives. To Mugabe, feted by British governments during the first decade or so after independence in 1980 and now surviving courtesy of South African President Thabo Mbeki, the lambastings must all seem dreadfully unfair. But who was more deluded: Mugabe, or those who failed to realise there was never more than a promise, a distant hope, of the sort of fair tests of public opinion which happened in Zambia in 1991 and in Kenya last week when the long-ruling KANU party was thrown out, without violence and with a vote?

In 1980, the then Anglican Bishop of Mashonaland, Paul Burrough, was one of the few who warned that the installation of Mugabe was less than a diplomatic triumph. Zimbabweans had "accepted fraud rather than return to violence", he said. Since then, the nearest Zimbabwe got to democratic workings was in 1996 when a still independent judiciary upheld the right of an outspoken, independent former member of Parliament, Margaret Dongo, to her Harare South parliamentary seat. In other respects Zimbabwe was never substantially different from Swaziland, but with various stage-managed reinforcement rituals - bogus elections in place of Swaziland's Reed Dance and the First Fruits Ceremony. Does anyone ask why South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma fails to salute the Swazi royal family, as she recently did Mugabe's Zanu PF party as a "progressive force"?

And as long as there are suckers prepared to applaud the drivel Zanu PF Secretary for Administration Emmerson Mnangagwa gave Mbeki's African National Congress conference in Stellenbosch recently, attacking "the neo-liberal individualistic and predominantly capitalistic world view", the Zimbabwe regime will keep up the charade, no matter what the economic and human cost. It is significant Mnangagwa also bears the title Speaker of Parliament, using his powers to ensure Mugabe's rule is not seriously challenged from its benches by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. Zimbabwe does not need what Mbeki calls "megaphone diplomacy". It simply needs the regime to have it made clear that the world, particularly Africa, is not fooled. The country advances into the New Year in frightful danger. Mugabe hangs on, his ambitious self-delusion reaching ever more gigantic proportions. The rational processes by which the workings of a state can normally be judged have been discredited and cast aside. All those who three years ago argued from clear economic fact "the situation cannot last another six months" have been proved wrong. Strikes, protests, petitions, have faltered in the face of individuals' daily struggle for survival.

The next phase may resemble what in currently happening in southern Malawi - where irrationality has spread to people who are incapable of articulating their misery, and denied democratic representatives who will do it for them. One man has been killed and three Catholic priests mobbed in a widening madness that vampires are sucking blood secretly from unconscious victims and giving it to aid agencies in exchange for food. Once a society gets to that state, it is too late to ask retired Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay to conduct an objective investigation and calm the public. The madhouse will have burst its doors. Mugabe was always the principal inmate. But also to blame are those, including past British governments and the ANC, who over long years claimed the madhouse was a temple of progressive modern democratic values.

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