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- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

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epolitix

      'Banned' Mugabe minister attends EU summit

           Belgium has defended its decision to allow Zimbabwe's "banned"
trade minister to attend a European Union summit in Brussels.

            Samuel Mumbengegwi, the Harare minister for trade and industry,
arrived on Thursday to attend Friday's Europe-African, Caribbean and Pacific
(ACP) council of ministers.

            His presence follows February's row between Europe's ministers
over the renewal of EU sanctions targeting Robert Mugabe's regime.


            Both the European Commission and the Belgian government say the
gathering is exempted because the travel bans on Zimbabwean ministers apply
only to EU events while the ACP is covered by other international treaties.

            Belgium's foreign affairs ministry said that its decision to
grant the banned minister a visa to attend the conference was a diplomatic
requirement and "absolutely not political".

            "We find ourselves under an obligation in international law to
allow [the ACP] to invite representatives of their member states," he said.
"It is absolutely not a political case."

            Justifying Mumbengegwi's entry for the conference, the spokesman
hinted that the minister may have been barred if the choice was Belgium's
alone.

            "It is not a Belgian issue," he said.


            "It is like when the UN are allowed to invite someone to address
the general assembly, some of these people are not considered a friend of
the US but there is an agreement and the situation is similar here."

            The European Commission also stressed that it hands are tied by
a sanctions agreement signed by EU ministers in February.

            "The sanctions and legal obligations have been agreed by
Council, they might not be perfect but as long as member states continue to
support the agreement it remains," a spokesman said.

            British MEP Geoffrey Van Orden disputed the claims. "The ACP is
just an EU creation, a conduit for the EU's own aid programmes. So we have
the ludicrous situation of an individual banned by the EU, coming to the
EU's 'capital', with the host country claiming it has no power to stop
this," he said.

            "The simple fact is that if EU Governments wanted to prevent
Mugabe's henchmen from attending meetings in the EU, they would."
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News24

Pope slams Zim land reform
15/05/2003 19:52  - (SA)


Vatican City - Pope John Paul II on Thursday sharply criticised Zimbabwe
President Robert Mugabe's controversial land reform programme as an "error"
which could only create tension and discord.

"It is an error to think that any real benefit or success will come simply
by expropriating large landholdings, dividing them into smaller production
units and distributing them to others," the pope said.

Agrarian reform may be necessary in many countries, the pope said, "but it
is also a complex and delicate process".

"Justice must be made available to all if the injuries of the past are to be
left behind and a brighter future built."

The pontiff was addressing diplomats to the Holy See as he received the
credentials of 12 new ambassadors, including Harare's envoy Kelebert
Nkomani.

Since introducing the reforms three years ago, Mugabe's government has so
far seized 11 million hectares of farmland from whites and redistributed it
to 320 000 black families.

The land reforms have partly been blamed for Zimbabwe's grave food
shortages.

The president has ordered a review of the scheme after his government
admitted in March that the exercise has some "irregularities".

Rich-poor divide

The 82-year-old pontiff said due weight must be given "to the various claims
of land ownership, the right to land use and the common good".

He said that when values of democracy, good government, human rights,
dialogue and peace were neglected or violated, "social and political
violence will eventually increase, the gap between rich and poor will grow
ever wider..."

He told Nkomani that if land redistribution in a given country was to offer
a sustainable response to economic problems, it "must continue to develop
over time and must ensure that the necessary infrastructures are in place".

"Feelings of disenfranchisement or of being unjustly treated only serve to
foment tension and discord."

The leader of the Catholic Church added that any agrarian reform "should be
in full accord with national policies and those of international bodies".

The pope pledged the "full support" of the Catholic Church for efforts "to
construct a culture of dialogue rather than confrontation, of reconciliation
rather than conflict".

Nkomani is also ambassador to Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and the
European Union. - Sapa-AFP
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      ZIMBABWE: Mugabe establishes Land Review Committee
      IRINnews Africa, Thu 15 May 2003

        IRIN

      The Land Review Committee will verify a recent audit of the land
reform programme

      JOHANNESBURG, - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has established a
Land Review Committee (LRC) to verify information contained in a land reform
audit submitted to cabinet recently, a government spokesman told IRIN on
Thursday.

      The audit, conducted by the minister of state for land reform, Flora
Buka, was intended to establish who owned Zimbabwe's farms at the completion
of the government's fast-track land reform programme. The controversial
programme was initiated to redistribute land, mainly from white commercial
farmers to "indigenous" Zimbabweans.

      Media reports have claimed that it contains details of improprieties
in the distribution of the land and that there were anomalies in its
compilation. The audit was endorsed by cabinet last week but has not been
released to the public.

      Government press secretary Steyn Berejena said: "It [The LRC] is a
natural progression from the audit in a programme as large as the recently
completed land reform programme, and will complement and verify the
information contained in the audit."

      It would also address allegations that the land reform policy of "one
man one farm" was breached by senior government ministers or other
well-connected members of the ruling party.

      "That will not be the focus of the LRC but they will look at it," he
added.

      The newly established LRC will have two months to gather information
which, besides verifying ownership, will include the number of farm workers
still present on land, the amount and condition of farm equipment, and the
needs of resettled farmers.

      "The bottom line is to assist farmers' potential to produce and
achieve agricultural production," Berejena said.

      The eight-person committee will be chaired by the former chief
secretary to the president and cabinet, Charles Utete, and will work under
Buka and the minister of special affairs in the Office of the President,
John Nkomo. Eight provincial task teams will assist the committee.






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News24

Lawyers say no to bugging
15/05/2003 17:17  - (SA)


Harare - Lawyers in Zimbabwe Thursday challenged regulations that allow
President Robert Mugabe's government to tap into telephone conversations and
e-mail communications.

The Law Society of Zimbabwe says that in addition to violating
constitutional rights to freedom of expression, the country's Postal and
Telecommunications Act could also undermine the "fundamental" right of
client-attorney privilege.

Adrian de Bourbon, who is representing the society, told a full bench of the
Supreme Court that "the administration of justice could be severely
affected" if the law did not recognise legal professional privilege.

The Law Society wants sections of the act to be set aside and redrafted by
parliament.

De Bourbon said in other countries a court order is needed to tap phones.

"Why is it necessary for the legislature to impose that absolute power in
the president?" he asked.

Under the act, a "severe criminal sanction" is imposed on service providers
that alert clients to the fact that their mobile phones, e-mail or
telephones are being monitored, de Bourbon said.

But state lawyer Yvonne Dondo told the court that the president would only
intercept communications if it was in the interest of national security.

Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku said the court would need time to consider
the submissions. Judgment was reserved.
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Hoovers

Zimbabwe Currency Falls on Shortages

May 15, 2003 11:28am

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP)  The Zimbabwe currency went into free
fall Thursday when a shortage of hard currency forced desperate
state-owned power and gasoline companies to turn to the black
market for U.S. dollars, dealers said.

The state companies  searching for money to buy power and gas
abroad  were paying up to 2,000 Zimbabwe dollars for $1, and with
the new demand the black market rate fell even further to as low as
2,500 to the U.S. dollar, bank executives said.

"It's going crazy. The demand for hard currency is driving
massive falls in the value of our money," said one trader whose
company policy does not permit him to be identified.

The currency crisis is just the latest in a long list of
Zimbabwe's economic woes. Industrial production is estimated to be
60 percent below capacity. Inflation has soared to a record 228
percent this year, and unemployment is nearly 70 percent.

In the past three years, foreign aid, investment and loans to
Zimbabwe have dried up in protest of political violence,
state-orchestrated human rights abuses, the seizure of thousands of
white-owned farms and the conduct of disputed presidential
elections last year.

Foreign funding accounted for nearly half the country's hard
currency inflows. The rest came from tobacco harvests, tourism and
mining, all now sharply depleted.

In February, the government devalued the currency, lowering the
Zimbabwe dollar's value from 55 to 824 per $1, and the black market
responded with a rate of about 1,400 Zimbabwe dollars to the
American dollar.

Despite the devaluation, Zimbabwe still suffered a massive
shortage of hard currency, making it difficult to get money to buy
imports.

The National Oil Company of Zimbabwe, the state oil monopoly,
announced last week it had run out of hard currency to import fuel
and was preparing to buy U.S. dollars "at any rate."

The state power utility said it was negotiating for hard
currency to help pay its bills for electricity imports from the
Congo and neighboring Mozambique, Zambia and South Africa. Many
foreign suppliers, angry at not getting paid, have reduced the flow
of electricity, leading to power outages across Zimbabwe.

Those outages coupled with the worsening fuel shortages have
crippled industry and public transportation here.

Lines of vehicles coiled around empty gas stations Thursday.
With no fuel available, traffic in Harare was light, almost
resembling weekend traffic flow. Many commuters walked several
miles to work or simply didn't go at all.

The state Herald newspaper reported Thursday some fuel imports
through a key pipeline from the Mozambican port of Beira resumed
after being halted for about a week, and that some outstanding
arrears had been paid to South Africa's main power company, Eskom.
It quoted Energy Minister Amos Midzi saying the government was
pursuing "long-term solutions."

Zimbabwe imports nearly half its power requirements, and its
domestic electricity industry has been hobbled by breakdowns and
shortages of spare parts, equipment and fuel at its coal-fired and
hydroelectric power stations.

The largest coal mine at Hwange in western Zimbabwe was
virtually shut down last month due to a machinery breakdown, the
owners said. It was being repaired, they said.

Breakdowns and spare parts shortages at the state rail company
have worsened coal shortages at cement, sugar and tobacco
processing facilities.

The National Railways of Zimbabwe asked the government last year
for $27 million to upgrade its signaling equipment and for other
repair work, but it has not yet been provided, railroad officials
have said.
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Daily News

      Teachers' strike deadlock

      5/15/03 9:21:57 AM (GMT +2)


      Staff Reporter

      EMERGENCY talks to end the strike by schoolteachers broke down in
Harare yesterday when the government's Public Service Commission (PSC)
rejected demands by the Zimbabwe Teachers' Association (ZIMTA) to hike
salaries by more than 400 percent.

      ZIMTA chief executive Peter Mabande last night said the two parties
had failed to reach agreement "on anything" after eight hours of
negotiations.

      "We failed to come up with a common position. There was no resolution
on anything. We will meet tomorrow and see if we can come up with some
degree of consensus. The PSC team will first consult before we resume the
talks," Mabande told The Daily News.

      The talks resume at the PSC's NSSA House head office today. The PSC is
the statutory employer of all civil servants.

      Teachers went on strike when schools opened last week, to press for
higher salaries and better working conditions that were promised by the
government last year.

      Teachers are among the worst paid civil servants, earning much lower
than, for example, junior nurses at State hospitals.

      PSC secretary Ray Ndhlukula refused to comment on the stalled
negotiations yesterday.
      But the government has in the past conceded that teachers' salaries
need reviewing, but has said this should be done as part of a wider job
evaluation exercise it is carrying out to rationalise all civil servants'
salaries.

      The talks between the teachers' representatives and the PSC briefly
stopped in the morning after the PSC negotiators rejected as too high
demands by teachers for a starting salary of $268 000, which is about four
times what teachers earn on average at the moment.

      They resumed after the PSC had reportedly consulted with senior
government officials.
      "We said to them they had to go and consult. We later reconvened, but
nothing came up," Mabande said.

      The ZIMTA leader said his delegation would ignore threats by the
government to take legal action against the striking teachers.

      The Harare talks took place as the teachers' strike, which started on
a low note last Thursday, gathered momentum.

      The industrial action this week spread to smaller towns where until
yesterday, several schools had remained teaching as the job boycott was
largely confined to Harare and the major urban centres.

      In Chegutu, Kadoma, Chinhoyi, Glendale and Mount Darwin, several
schools were unable to provide lessons yesterday as teachers either did not
turn up or staged sit-ins.
      Student teachers at colleges in Bulawayo and Mutare have been
boycotting lectures since Monday in solidarity with the striking teachers.

      Students could be seen loitering in Mutare because there were no
teachers to conduct lessons at their schools, while some school authorities
in Gweru, Masvingo and several
      other towns told pupils not to report for lessons until the dispute
was resolved.

      Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) secretary-general Wellington
Chibhebhe last night threw his weight behind the striking teachers, calling
on the government to address their grievances and urging parents and the
general public to sympathise with the strikers.

      Chibhebhe said: "The problems being faced by the teachers are well
documented and this strike action has long been coming. It is very unfair
for the government to turn a blind eye when the end result is a
deterioration of educational standards in the country.

      "The ZCTU would like to call upon parents and members of the public to
rally their support behind the teachers and urge the government to urgently
look into the issue as students are losing a lot of valuable time."

      Meanwhile, three teachers arrested at David Livingstone Primary School
in Harare on Tuesday "for organising an illegal meeting" were released
yesterday without being charged.

      Joseph Mafusire, who represented George Mushipe, Tinei Kapewa and
Keresensia Chirere, said: "They were released after spending a night in
cells at Harare Central Police Station. There was no basis for arresting
them as they were arrested for merely being part of some teachers at David
Livingstone who were trying to comprehend a Press release that had been
issued by ZIMTA on the strike."
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Daily News

      SA resumes power supplies to ZESA

      5/15/03 9:32:18 AM (GMT +2)


      Staff Reporter

      SOUTH Africa has resumed electricity supplies to the Zimbabwe
Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA), which is also expecting to begin
receiving power from Mozambique's Hydro Electrica Cahorra Bassa (HBS) at the
end of this month, ZESA chairman Sydney Gata said yesterday.

      He told The Daily News that supplies from South Africa's ESKOM resumed
on Monday after Zimbabwe's power utility began paying arrears on its debt,
which had ballooned in the last two years because of severe foreign currency
shortages.

      According to Gata, ZESA has begun settling part of the US$55 million
(Z$45,32 billion) it owes to ESKOM and HBS, which had cut back supplies.

      The ZESA chairman said the electricity situation was expected to
stabilise in the next few months following the creation of a facility that
would allow large exporters, especially mines, to pay their power bills in
foreign currency.

      Gata said: "Full supplies from ESKOM started on Monday and HSB will
resume its full supplies at the end of the month. I have been shuttling
between Maputo and Johannesburg to discuss the progress and the
contingencies we are putting in place."

      "Both ESKOM and HSB supplied us with electricity for five months
without payment,'' he added.

      Gata said ZESA had not been receiving hard cash from the Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe since last December, but denied that the local power utility's
debt to regional electricity suppliers was US$200 million as reported by the
local Press.

      Under ZESA's new agreement with exporters, companies will be offered
significant tariff discounts to encourage them to settle their bills in hard
cash. The agreement has enabled ZESA to slash its debt to regional suppliers
from US$55 million to US$45 million in the past week, Gata said.

      He added that ZESA intends to have settled its debt by the end of
June.
      He told The Daily News: '"Of the first group of 35 largest companies,
28 of them have signed an agreements in which they are paying their bills in
US dollars and will enjoy tariff discounts.''

      He said two of the 28 companies had signed advance payment agreements
and would enjoy an additional discount.

      He said from those companies that signed the agreements, ZESA received
US$5,4 million in February, adding that in July the electricity company
expected to receive between US$11 million and US$12 million from the
arrangement.

      Gata said under normal circumstances, ZESA needed US$17 million a
month for its operations.

      Of this amount, US$7 million would be used for operations and
development, including the purchase of new equipment, refurbishment and
maintenance.

      US$5 million dollars would be used to meet commitments under bilateral
and multilateral agreements with organisations such as the World Bank and
the African Development Bank, while the remaining US$5 million would be used
for imports.

      ZESA is charging US$3,2 per kilowatt per hour for electricity.
      However, companies still have the option of paying for power in local
currency.
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Daily News

      SAA takes fuel contingency measures

      5/15/03 9:33:41 AM (GMT +2)

      Business Reporter

      A HARARE-bound South African Airways (SAA) jet this week had to
abandon travellers' baggage at Johannesburg International Airport to enable
it to carry enough fuel for the return leg of its journey, amid crippling
shortages of Jet A1 fuel in Zimbabwe.

      Rich Mkhondo, the airline's executive manager for corporate
communications, confirmed yesterday that the airline had to leave some
luggage in Johannesburg during a Monday evening flight to Harare.

      He however stressed that this had been "done with passenger consent".
      "I can confirm to you that one of our planes left for Harare this week
without much of passengers' baggage because it had to carry enough fuel," he
told The Daily News from Johannesburg.

      Mkhondo added: "The plane had to carry less cargo because of shortages
in Harare and of course, high (fuel) expenses."
      He said passengers had agreed to the arrangement on condition that
their luggage was delivered door-to-door on Tuesday.

      The South African Airways official had earlier in the week told The
Daily News that the airline had been carrying "reserve fuel" on the Harare
route for some time because of the high cost of Jet A1 fuel in Zimbabwe.

      Aviation fuel sells for as much as US$1,03 (Z$848) a litre in
Zimbabwe, compared to an average US25 cents (Z$206) in South Africa.

      "Our planes have been carrying extra fuel to Harare for sometime
because it is expensive," he said, without indicating how long the
contingency measure had been in place.

      SAA's larger aircraft, such as the four-engine Boeings, would have
four full tanks for the 90-minute journey to Harare, the airline spokesman
added.

      He said under normal circumstances, SAA planes always carried cargo
commensurate with passenger or aircraft seat bookings.

      He said passenger capacity and cargo bookings were weighted in any
flight or journey.
      He said: "SAA has always ensured people travel with their goods. It's
only with regards to excessive goods that people sometimes book cargo
planes."

      The South African airline's emergency measures on Monday come at a
time Harare is experiencing severe Jet A1 fuel shortages.

      On Sunday, an Air Zimbabwe plane had to make an emergency landing in
Lusaka, Zambia in order to re-fuel so that it could travel to Johannesburg.

      The airline indicated on Sunday that it had opted to re-fuel in Lusaka
in order to conserve supplies in Harare, which a company spokesman said were
only enough to last the national airline two to three days.

      The Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe is now said to be seeking Jet
A1 supplies in South Africa.
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Daily News

      Settlers face eviction to make way for politicians, SA investor

      5/15/03 9:38:04 AM (GMT +2)


      From Energy Bara in Masvingo

      MORE than 200 families who were resettled by the government on Mateke
Hills Ranch in Mwenezi under the fast-track land reform programme face
eviction following plans involving a South African businessman and local
politicians to turn the ranch into a wildlife conservancy.

      Under the deal still shrouded in secrecy, South African Russell
Collins will, with the help of some Zanu PF politicians, reportedly evict
villagers presently occupying the farm to make way for the proposed wildlife
conservancy.

      The proposed deal, which has sparked off an outcry from
newly-resettled black farmers and white commercial farmers, was sealed with
the blessing of the now disbanded Masvingo provincial land committee which
was headed by Josaya Hungwe, the provincial governor.

      Hungwe confirmed the deal, saying it was above board and was a way to
open the wildlife business to blacks.

      He said: "We want blacks to enter into the wildlife business and those
whites who want to go into partnerships with us are most welcome."

      But some of the new farmers on Mateke Ranch claimed Hungwe's committee
had been paid money in order to sanction the deal that will leave the
newly-resettled families landless.

      "We have received word that some senior members of the provincial land
committee were paid huge sums of money by those behind the project," one of
the new farmers told The Daily News yesterday .

      He said: "The decision to evict us is unfair because we can also run
conservancies. It's a clear case of corruption which has to be exposed. What
is of concern is that the land is being taken from blacks and given to a
white man."

      Several civil servants, among them members of the Central Intelligence
Organisation, who were given land on the ranch could be evicted if plans to
turn it into a conservancy come to fruition.

      Politicians have on several occasions used their power to muscle out
villagers from choice farms and land they would have been allocated by the
government.
      The Mateke farmers were allocated land under the A2 scheme.
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Daily News

      Bulawayo women query selective application of POSA

      5/15/03 9:38:50 AM (GMT +2)


      From Chris Gande in Bulawayo

      The Bulawayo chapter of the Women's Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCZ) has
written to Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri over what it says is
selective application by police of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA).

      The WCZ alleged in a letter addressed to Chihuri that the police had
in the past few months used POSA to refuse women in Bulawayo permission to
carry out public marches and demonstrations while allowing women in Harare
and other parts of the country to carry out similar activities.

      Under the draconian POSA, Zimbabweans must get police approval before
they can hold public meetings.

      The WCZ letter, which was also copied to senior police officers in
Bulawayo and Harare, read in part: "The Women's Coalition of Zimbabwe notes
with concern the disparities in the way police have been handling women
activists in the recent past. We wonder where the differences come about
when the police administer the same laws."

      Last Saturday 46 women were arrested and detained by the police in
Bulawayo for about five hours after taking part in a march to mark Mothers'
Day. But the police in Harare allowed women to hold demonstrations at the
city's Africa Unity Square in observance of the day.

      Another women's group, Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), which organised
the Mothers' Day celebrations in the two cities, used the same letter to
notify police in Bulawayo and Harare of the planned marches and
demonstrations. WOZA is affiliated to the WCZ.

      "We have a problem with the way police are interpreting the law. The
disparities and inconsistencies in the way the same law is being interpreted
in Bulawayo and Harare is worrying," said WCZ chairwoman Jannah Ncube.

      Police in Matabeleland refused to comment on the matter referring The
Daily News to police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena, who has refused to speak to
this newspaper.

      But there is growing concern by some civic groups in the country's
southern region of Matabeleland that the police are applying POSA more
ruthlessly there than in other parts of the country.

      The government has, however, in the past denied that its agencies were
singling out the Matabeleland provinces for punishment because the region is
a stronghold of the Movement for Democratic Change, the main opposition
party.
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Daily News

      Mnangagwa denies wishing to succeed Mugabe

      5/15/03 9:42:19 AM (GMT +2)

      Staff Reporter

      SPEAKER of Parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa, widely regarded as a
potential successor of President Robert Mugabe, yesterday told the High
Court that he had no ambition to become President of Zimbabwe.

      Mnangagwa, who is also the ruling ZANU PF's secretary for
administration, was answering questions during cross-examination by Advocate
Adrian de Bourbon. De Bourbon is representing The Daily News in a case in
which Mnangagwa is suing the newspaper for defamation.

      The suit arises over stories the paper published alleging that that
the Speaker of Parliament had illegally authorised the release a hard-core
criminal from prison because he was his son.

      In response to the defence lawyer's questions, Mnangagwa said he was
sufficiently informed "to know that there was no vacancy" for the post of
President in Zimbabwe.
      De Bourbon further asked: "Do you aspire to be President of Zimbabwe?"

      To which Mnangagwa replied: "No."
      De Bourbon added: "Then the (newspaper) headline tomorrow can say you
do not aspire to be President?"

      To which the ZANU PF secretary for administration replied: "Yes."
      Mnangagwa has long been regarded as Mugabe's heir apparent,
speculation which intensified when the President appointed him Speaker of
Parliament after he lost his Kwekwe parliamentary seat to the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change's Blessing Chebundo in the June 2000
election.

      He is believed to also have the support of Vice-President Simon
Muzenda and Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander, General Vitalis Zvinavashe.

      In December last year Mnangagwa led a ZANU PF delegation to the
African National Congress conference in Stellenbosch, north-east of Cape
Town, which further fuelled speculation that he was a favourite for the
presidential post.

      Mnangagwa told the High Court yesterday that he had been a special
adviser to Mugabe, the president of ZANU PF, during the liberation struggle,
but his role had changed over the years.

      Justice Lavender Makoni reserved judgment in the case where Mnangagwa
is seeking punitive damages running into millions of dollars against The
Daily News.

      Mnangagwa was the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs
when George Chikanga, who was serving a jail sentence of 35 years for armed
robbery, was released in March 2000. His mother is reported to have
petitioned the then justice minister to facilitate his release.

      Chikanga had served only nine years when he was released.
      Mnangagwa denied any wrongdoing and that Chikanga was his son. He said
the release was a result of an error by officials in the Justice Ministry.

      A Ministry of Justice report has exonerated Mnangagwa of any
impropriety in the release of Chikanga.

      Under cross-examination by his lawyer, Advocate Harry Simpson,
yesterday, Mnangagwa said: "Geoff Nyarota (The Daily News editor-in-chief at
the time) could have gone to the prison to ascertain whether Chikanga was my
son or not. My lawyers wrote to him that the allegations were false."

      He said Nyarota had known that he was publishing false information.
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Daily News

Leader Page

      The real land audit

      5/15/03 9:23:38 AM (GMT +2)


      YESTERDAY we reported that Zimbabwe has lost $120 billion in revenue
this agricultural season, thanks to the government's haphazard and
ill-considered land reforms.

      A survey by the Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) has revealed a rapid
decline in the yield of most crops, crippling industries dependent on the
agricultural sector for inputs and markets.

      There is no doubt that the CFU is an interested party to whose
advantage it would be to portray a state of chaos in the farming sector.

      But there is ample evidence on the ground that the impact of the land
reforms has been anything but positive.

      Close to eight million Zimbabweans require emergency food aid because
of shortages primarily caused by the resettlement programme.

      Because of severe foreign currency shortages, the government is unable
to import enough food to meet the requirements of people facing starvation.

      The foreign currency crisis itself has been worsened by the chaos in
the agricultural sector, where a decline in output has hit exports.

      In fact, to meet domestic demand Zimbabwe now has to import some crops
it previously exported, further straining our meagre foreign exchange
resources.

      With the worsening hard cash squeeze, have come serious obstacles to
the importation of fuel and electricity, shortages of which are threatening
industry and commerce.

      The government so often fails to understand that criticism of its
chaotic land reform programme does not mean opposition to the redistribution
of land. All right-thinking Zimbabweans fully appreciate the need to redress
colonial imbalances in the farming sector.

      But booting out commercially productive farmers and replacing them
with people without the resources to farm productively is not agricultural
reform.

      What the government has done is allocate land to people without the
money to pay for the inputs and agricultural implements they need to produce
for subsistence or commercially.
      Reports of government and ZANU PF officials grabbing land also
indicate that, in some cases, one farming elite has merely been replaced
with another.

      In the euphoria of the so-called Third Chimurenga, land was grabbed
willy-nilly and the sobering reality is now staring Zimbabwe in the face.

      Indeed, President Robert Mugabe himself conceded only last month that
mistakes were made in the execution of the land reforms.

      But what is of major concern to Zimbabweans now is the future. What is
the way forward?

      Instead of bothering itself with land audits and audits of audits, the
government would be better served sitting down to ask itself some pertinent
questions.
      Now that we have the land, do we have the capacity to use it
productively?

      Because the government has several commitments already and no money to
meet them, does it have the capacity to take on such a massive undertaking?

      Now that we have the land, are we using it to produce enough food for
the nation? It is senseless to gloat about having access to resources when
you have to go cap in hand to ask donors to feed your people.

      Is it too late for the government to sit down and rethink this whole
idea and come up with a programme it could use to re-engage the
international community, whose support is necessary if Zimbabwe is to make a
success of any land reforms?

      Unless Zimbabwe's leaders ask themselves some of these questions, all
their fine-sounding ideas and plans for the economy will come to nought.
There can be no economic recovery without a stable agricultural sector.

      The government has to swallow its pride, admit its mistakes and ask
for help to pull itself out of the mess it has needlessly plunged itself and
our once prosperous nation into.
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Daily News

Leader Page

      Treason trial is Tsvangirai's last hurdle

      5/15/03 9:24:42 AM (GMT +2)

      Cyprian Muketiwa Ndawana

      LIKE a competition-hardened marathon race runner with the finishing
line in sight, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai must dig deep into his
energy reserves. He must be so focused that he avoids at all costs the all
too common proverbial "so near yet so far" last hurdle droop.

      It is an open secret that Tsvangirai currently stands on the threshold
of wearing the crown. However, as he marks time to receive the mantle, his
adversary is so cunning that he does not want to descend from the throne
gracefully. He has no intentions whatsoever of tarring, road-marking and
signposting Tsvangirai's route to the palace.

      Ever since Tsvangirai threw his cap into the ring to signal his entry
into the political arena, he triggered off some loud cries from some
quarters that thought all along that they had a God-given mandate to rule
this country until their interment. The cries are far from subsiding,
especially now that they realise that the challenge is neither cosmetic nor
token. It is real.

      Tsvangirai's entry into the political sphere was initially taken at
face value. It was mistaken as one of those one-day wonders,which cause a
sensation at dawn only to wither and fizzle out as the sun rises. It was
expected to fade faster than a bleached pair of denim jeans. That it has
stood the stern test of time is a bad omen to those that had rivetted
themselves to the high table.

      As secretary-general of the umbrella labour body, the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions, Tsvangirai held a plum post. Despite being in that
coveted post, the dwindling spending power of the country's workforce was in
his heart. It caused him so much discomfort, more so than the then Labour
and Social Welfare Minister Florence Chitauro.

      Saddened by the gross neglect of the workers' welfare, Tsvangirai
resolved that his representation of people had to grow beyond the confines
of trade unionism. Hence the entry into the political arena. With the
government displaying a heart of stone by its withdrawal from participation
in the Workers' Day activities, it became loud and clear to him that the
government had relegated the issue of workers to "any other business" on its
agenda.

      Tsvangirai did not have a smooth entry into the political arena. He
was given a baptism of fire as he was winding up his union activities to
form the Movement of Democratic Change (MDC). Some thugs, who for want of a
diplomatic term, still elude the long hand of the police, assaulted him. It
is ironic that despite claims of competence and professionalism, the police
are as yet to make meaningful inroads into finding the attackers.

      Any man of an average nerve would have abandoned the idea of entering
into politics, given the brutal attack he suffered. But Tsvangirai's resolve
kept burning inside him. He courageously brushed that aside as a mere
occupational hazard and went unperturbed to form the MDC.

      That he succeeded to form the party against the backdrop of glaring
life-threatening entry barriers is by all accounts the yardstick with which
men of distinction are measured. And that his party gave Zanu PF a routing
in the referendum in 2000 while still in its infancy was ample evidence that
the populace was fed up right to the marrow by successive years of misrule
and being taken for granted.

      With the defeat in the referendum, the government harnessed all public
resources to harangue the MDC. The government-controlled media erupted into
a frenzy, calling Tsvangirai all sorts of names. He was demeaned as a
stooge, puppet and sellout that wanted to give the country back to the
British. A downpour of negative publicity rained on him. It is still
relentlessly pouring with no immediate signs of stopping.

      As the State media blitz escalated, the nation hid its face in shame
and embarrassment when President Mugabe stooped from the throne to join in
the name-calling, referring to Tsvangirai in a host of derogatory names.
Running concurrently with the State media scorn and ridicule is the
persecution and torment Tsvangirai and senior members of his party are
undergoing. One has to be a statistician of note to list the number of times
MDC officials have so far been arrested on purely trumped-up charges.

      The thorniest entry barrier that Tsvangirai had to contend with was
the electoral process, which is infested with rigging, threats, assaults and
murders of opposition supporters and officials.

      There was such a wholesale beating of MDC supporters that it is a
travesty of democracy to declare the elections as free and fair. With the
High Court already having nullified several seats that were won courtesy of
violence and intimidation, the 2000 parliamentary election was held in a
blood-and-thunder environment for the opposition.

      Tsvangirai's entry and stay in the political arena has not been an
easy one - he had to be on the prowl to evade such made-up charges as being
found with two-way radio communication equipment. The government-owned power
utility, the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority, also weighed in to add
misery to him by wanting to switch off electricity at his house, despite the
bill being paid up.

      With the audience he recently had in Harare with the leaders of
Nigeria, Malawi and South Africa, coupled with the invitation extended to
him by Malawian President Bakili Muluzi, the silver lining is now visible.

      Like a truly diligent leader, he has been tried, tested and found to
be steadfast.

      As Tsvangirai stands in the dock to answer treason allegations at the
resumption of his trial, I, for one, am convinced that this is the very last
hurdle he has to overcome on his route to the crown.

      - Cyprian Muketiwa Ndawana is a social and political commentator
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Daily News

Letters

      Police in fuel scam

      5/15/03 9:27:58 AM (GMT +2)

      An amazing scene occurred on 13 May when fuel was delivered to a
Belgravia service station. Quantity delivered: 10 000 litres.

      When discussion with management failed to yield results, the affected
motorists summoned the officers from Avondale Police Station, who were
driven to the scene because they had no transport. Much to my chagrin and
dismay, the police officers displayed ignorance about what they had been
called for.

      When they inquired how much petrol had been delivered, the manager,
who seemed quite shaken by the action taken by the motorists who seemed to
know their rights, welcomed the police and took them into the toilet where
they discussed in whispers.

      Later, angry motorists demanded that readings of the remaining fuel
should be made. When this was done, readings of 11, 12 and 12 were recorded,
but no one was able to convert these to actual litres of fuel in the tanks.

      We, the motorists, suspect that the announcement that fuel had run out
was false. This was done in order to reserve fuel intended for resale on the
black market at exorbitant prices.

      The police were not helpful in solving the problem, partly due to
ignorance and partly due to the fact that they are probably part of the
racket. One of them was later seen counting money that he got from
management.

      What happened at Belgravia cannot go on unchallenged as it is part of
a well-orchestrated plan to deny motorists who are sacrificing their time
and work schedules by spending sleepless nights in queues.

      A similar incident occurred on 6 May 2003 at a Strathaven service
station, where management loaded 20 drums of petrol and a police truck did
the same before they started selling petrol to the public. Again, this
matter was reported to the police, who turned a blind eye.

      In each instance, the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe was called on a
cellphone number, but did nothing about it. This raises the suspicion that
they too, like the corrupt law enforcement agents, must be part of this
scandal.

      Disgusted
      Harare
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From ZWNEWS, 15 May

Funny no longer

By Michael Hartnack


Join the petrol queue and after anything up to 10 days, the defining moment
arrives: a tanker appears - followed by a convoy of up to 50 of the driver's
friends. The news sweeps the neighbourhood and crowds of owners rush to the
scene, jumping into cars left in the queue with an employee or unemployed
relative. More vehicles draw up alongside, three and four deep, hooting and
vociferously demanding admission to the queue. The tanker driver's friends,
trailing bumper-to-bumper behind him like ramoras on a shark, are the first
to shatter the order established over the past days. He refuses to enter and
unload until they are slotted in behind him. Then come dark limousines
driven by well-known politicians and forbidding figures in service uniforms,
for whom the crowd nervously hold back.   "Why didn't you tell us this
petrol is not for ordinary people?" a middle aged black woman cries out. By
now a line of commuter minibuses has found a gap and forced its way in, the
crews grimly determined to get some of the lifeblood of their business. Huge
bundles of notes change hands as bribes are paid. The police arrive, collect
deposit fines of thousands of dollars for overcharging from the pump
attendants, get containers filled and put in the back of their truck, and
depart. Then everything goes on exactly as it was. The motorists have to pay
extra to make up the money the attendants lost in fines.


In Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe, everyone has their own queue story, whether it
is for fuel, bread, maize meal, sugar, cooking oil, passport application
forms and even banknotes crisp from the Reserve Bank, which has run out of
the imported ink and paper needed to print them. Only the largest
denomination, Z$500, is now sufficient to buy a  roll of sweets that cost
sixpence in colonial times. Queues for public telephones lengthened when all
coin-in-the-slot phones were shut down last month. A year after Mugabe
opened a new US$10 million coin mint in Bulawayo (with a diatribe against
the Jewish community there), all coins are valueless due to runaway
inflation, and only phone cards are now usable, even for local calls. At
clinics in the poorer suburbs, the chronically sick queue for medicines
often limited to a single aspirin, regardless of their symptoms, while acute
cases wait at hospital casualty departments for attention from harassed
junior doctors, on duty 18 hours a day. Friends rushed a 66-year-old
pensioner with an agonising bladder seizure and breathing problems to
Harare's Parirenyatwa teaching hospital but gave up when they saw road
accident victims who had not received attention after six hours. A nearby
private hospital demanded Z$300 000 before they would look at him. He later
died. In rural areas, people queue for safe drinking water as unserviced
borehole pumps collapse.


The joke that Mugabe "is the man who put Zimbabwe back on its feet" has
ceased to be funny as urban transport ground to a near halt over the past
month. Tripling of petrol prices did nothing to alleviate the shortages
despite regular rumours of new deals with South African, Libyan, Iranian and
Nigerian suppliers. Exporters have begun sourcing their own fuel imports
with illegally retained foreign funds. The Zimbabwean petrol queue,
stretching for up to 4 kilometres, has become a new sociological phenomenon.
Rusting, barely roadworthy vehicles are left in the approaches to filling
stations day and night. Interspersed among them are mysterious items of junk
such as old filing cabinet drawers, stones, branches, pre-1972 number
plates, as well as ancient 44-gallon drums, meant to denote a place "saved"
for one or more thirsty fuel tanks. Alongside are growing piles of rubbish
and the smell of unburied sewage. The queue develops something of a
fairground atmosphere as vendors move wearily up and down, desperate to make
a living from their pitiful little displays of wares. In many queues
ordinary drivers without connections to the tanker driver, the pump
attendant or Mugabe's Zanu PF are rationed to 30 litres. Some drivers have
special "long range" tanks fitted in the hope of getting extra to siphon out
and sell for 2-3 times the Z$450/litre controlled price. When the garage
owner appears and walks down the queue with his security guards, announcing
that the supply has run out and all must try again next week, there are
groans of despair, but no violence. No point in fighting for what is, by
now, just not there. Many of the vehicles are left exactly where they were.
With empty tanks, they are not easy to steal, although the owners risk
pilfering of wheels, batteries and other spares. And the queue lives on, to
be convulsed again with fleeting, frenzied life another day.
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Ancient eagle comes home to roost in Zimbabwe
Mail & Guardian
Harare
15 May 2003 12:38
The base of an ancient, symbolic stone sculpture taken from Zimbabwe a century ago and sent to Europe was finally returned home on Wednesday. At a ceremony in Harare, German Ambassador Peter Schmidt returned the soapstone plinth of the Zimbabwe bird, a symbol of power from an ancient tribal dynasty that is used on Zimbabwe's flag and currency.

The head of the bird had remained in Zimbabwe and was officially rejoined with the base at Wednesday's ceremony. The base was taken by colonial settlers from the Great Zimbabwe ruins of the ancient Munhumatapa civilization in southern Zimbabwe in 1906, Schmidt said. It was handed over to a German collector and ended up in the German Ethnological Museum in Berlin, where it remained until the Russian occupation of Berlin at the end of World War II.

The plinth was taken to Leningrad by Russian troops. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, it was returned to Germany, where officials offered to send it back to Zimbabwe. Four other Zimbabwe birds in soapstone, a soft steatite rock of talcum, were returned from museums in neighbouring South Africa in recent years. One Zimbabwe bird remains in South Africa. Zimbabwe officials say negotiations for its return are in progress.

The birds, a stylised fish eagle, adorned the fortified walls of Great Zimbabwe, the walled stone city of the Munhumatapa civilisation, between the 12th and 14th centuries.

Zimbabwe, the former British colony of Rhodesia, which gained independence in 1980, derives its name from the walled stone city known in the local Shona language as Zimbabwe, or "house of stone". - Sapa-AP
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