Armed Police, Security Agents Take Over Top Zimbabwe Farm Peta
Thornycroft Harare 14 Apr 2004, 15:55 UTC
A huge farm
in eastern Zimbabwe that supplies vegetables to top British and South African
supermarkets has been overrun by armed police and security agents, and
thousands of workers and their children are reported to have been evicted
from their homes. The farm is probably the biggest vegetable exporter in
Africa and thousands of workers depend on it for survival. The latest move on
the farm, known as Kondozi, about 220 kilometers southeast of Harare, began
on last Friday. Millions of dollars' worth of farm equipment and computers
has been reported looted.
The farm's managers said they were barred by
police roadblocks from getting to Kondozi. They also said reports filtering
from the vegetable produce and packaging complex indicate that most employees
there had been forced out of their houses and had fled for safety in nearby
The managers said others had sent messages saying they have been
ordered to work for the government.
The majority shareholder in the
Kondozi complex, Edwin Moyo, is currently in Britain.
company not only grows vegetables on its own land, but also assists peasant
farmers in the district and buys their produce, packages it, and sends it to
Britain and South Africa. The farm is the largest employer in Manicaland
Province and reportedly earns at least $15 million a year at a time when
Zimbabwe cannot afford to pay its foreign debt.
Most of Kondozi's
management employees were evicted from their homesteads last year by
supporters of Zimbabwe's transport minister, Christopher Mushowe. Zimbabwe's
ongoing seizure of most commercial farmland is seen as having helped lead to
the worst economic crisis in the country's history.
The minister of
agriculture was not available for comment, but a government spokesman, George
Charamba, said the land was needed by the government.
Zimbabwe rebels go public From correspondents in
Harare April 15, 2004
ZIMBABWE'S rebel cricketers have released an
open letter in which they accuse some members of the country's ruling body of
intimidation and of offering one white player cash to stand aside to allow a
black teammate to take his place.
The extraordinary statement details
their nine points of disagreement with the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) which
have threatened to tear the sport apart since skipper Heath Streak was sacked
Streak wanted a shake-up of the selection process and
complained of political interference in the team.
issued today, was signed by 13 white players - Streak, Stuart Carlisle, Grant
Flower, Craig Wishart, Andy Blignaut, Raymond Price, Gary Brent, Sean Irvine,
Travis Friend, Barney Rodgers, Trevor Gripper, Richard Simms and Niel
"We have been concerned for some time about what we consider to
be the unprofessional manner of selection. There has been interference of
a non-sporting nature," said the statement.
"There has, in our view,
been racial and ethnic discrimination in the selection of the national team.
We believe that problems of this kind can be rectified if minimum
qualifications for selectors were introduced, as we have
"We should also stress that the minimum qualifications
proposed by the players are not discriminatory and indeed it would in our
view be easy for a selection panel to be established with a majority of
qualified black Zimbabweans.
"Names that come to mind would be Ethan
Dube and Mpumelelo Mbangwa (providing he is willing to give up his media
commentary) both of whom are qualified, ex-national players."
players also angrily denounced 'intimidation of players and
"We have been made aware that at least one black
journalist and at least one black player (who has asked us not to reveal his
name for his own safety) have been threatened by a member of the board not to
side with Heath.
"We suspect that other black members of the team have
been phoned and threatened in the same manner.
"Once again, we have
been reliably informed that a board member suggested during a selection
meeting that Mark Vermuelen be offered a double match fee, NOT to play (in
the fourth one-day international against Bangladesh).
"The suggestion was
made to try and pave the way for Stuart Matsikanyeri, who had been dropped,
In conclusion, the players insisted that their criticisms are
"We are deeply aware of the fact that this
document may only be signed by white players who are less susceptible to
these threats and that our action will be portrayed as racist," it
"Nothing could be further from the truth. We are all deeply
patriotic to all our colleagues and to Zimbabwean cricket supporters of all
races. However, we refuse to bow to this unacceptable conduct and we trust
that reasonable members of the Board and the ICC will support our
"Cricket is our entire life and we all consider it a great honour
to have been able to represent our country.
"However, if we do not
make a stand in support of our captain and the team we believe that
incalculable damage will be done to the game.
"We are deeply conscious of
the effect that non-closure would have on the game not only in Zimbabwe but
also throughout the world, and believe that unless we take action the cancer
that is eroding the game in Zimbabwe will not be dealt with."
HARARE - The
Zimbabwe government is selling to new black farmers tractors, combines and
other machinery formerly owned by white farmers whose land was seized under
President Robert Mugabe's controversial land reform programme, state media
"This equipment is owned by former commercial farmers who are
largely hostile and unsupportive to the land reform programme," Lands
Minister John Nkomo said in a statement quoted by state-run daily The
Nkomo said government has so far "acquired 140 tractors, seven
combine harvesters ... and 3,262 irrigation pipes".
The equipment is
now being sold to new black farmers who are growing wheat.
government in December ruled it would "compulsorily acquire" any farming
equipment and material left behind by white farmers.
Under the new
regulations, it is an offence for a farmer to damage or get rid off any
equipment without the authorisation from the lands minister.
government has accused white farmers who lost their land of trying to export,
lock up or destroy their equipment.
Four years ago, the government
embarked on the controversial reform programme to acquire millions of
hectares (acres) of land from whites and redistribute it to blacks.
small group of about 4,500 whites farmers owned a third of the country's land
including 70% of prime farmland before the government launched the program in
Fewer than 400 white farmers now remain in Zimbabwe and
own just 3% of the country's land, according to a government audit of the
land reform programme.
A combination of factors, including poor
planning, lack of resources, HIV/AIDS and drought have led to a huge slump in
Zimbabwe's agricultural production.
The government will pay, in
batches, for the equipment it is acquiring, with the first 25% paid out
within 30 days of acquisition, and balance paid over five years for equipment
and 12 months for material.
But it has refused to pay for the land it
took away from white farmers saying it would only pay for improvements
because that land was stolen from Zimbabweans by colonial
Some farmers who have been offered compensation for the
improvements on their former properties have turned down the money,
contesting the sums offered.
send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to firstname.lastname@example.org with "For Open Letter
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254 --------------------------------------------------------------------------- THOUGHT
FOR THE DAY
"However energetically society in general may strive to
make all the citizens equal and alike, the personal pride of each individual
will always make him try to escape from the common level, and he will form
some inequality somewhere to his own profit."
"We cannot go back to the pre 2000
situation where Mr. Joe Bloke who has now run away, is in Australia, we say
come and get back your land. We cannot go back to that." (Leader of the
There are conflicting signals here if one studies the time frame
and the emotion of the statement
Of more concern is the signal being
transmitted to the the world about perceptions of the importance attached to
security of tenure in a free market economy from such a statement. The colour
of Joe Soap, and where he might be should not have anything to do with it in
terms of the Constitution, and there should also be a totally Independent
The lack of proper law and order saw the murders of Martin
Soap and David Soap (read Olds and Stevens) and many more of all colours for
a perceived allegance to a Morgan Bloke. Zimbabweans, with the assistance of
the world at large must ensure that these people did not die in
There are millions of Soaps all over the world now and I am one of
them, partly because I chose not to compromise my principles. There could
well be a fresh round of bigger and more protracted problems for our
beloved country if the Soaps are now deemed to be persona non grata. Our
family still owns land which it bought over a hundred years ago but was
evicted from two years ago. Is this very issue going to be up to this Morgan
Bloke, or the Judiciary? I wonder.
We have, not surprisingly, been inundated with
messages of concern regarding this statement. I too was concerned when I
first read it but know just how statements are taken in isolation, out of
context or distorted. I have not managed to speak to MT regarding the
statement as he is in Harare and I am in the civilized part of the country
and I do not trust our uncivilized regime's telephone system to speak
confidentially to him regarding the matter.
All I can do is attach our
policy documents again which constitute our only duly approved policy
regarding land and all manner of things. You will note one theme throughout
the document - we are committed to the rule of law and equity in all matters
including land. I hope that you will be guided by this document in its
completeness and not by some half baked newspaper report no doubt written by
a journalist interested primarily in a sensational angle on a
Believe you me - I am not working day and night in this country,
putting my life on the line, for irrational policies to be adopted which will
not save this country from utter collapse. The policy document is something I
am proud of and believe will eventually get us out of the deep hole the
Mugabe regime has got us into.
Despondency...What causes it and how to cope Simon Spooner,
Bulawayo, February 2004
Right now, we are all faced with one of the most
important phases of our lives in our country.
Against a background of
real repression, where there is virtually no freedom of speech, association
or expression, we are forced to live in an information void filled with what
our masters want us to hear, view and read. This enables them to have the
opportunity to have us think what they want. That is very dangerous and we
must not fall into this trap.
This is the True Grit phase.
we cope with the doom and gloom, the depression and despondency which results
from this situation?
The way we think negatively is not necessarily based
on fact but usually as a result of what others, of us, say! Therefore we all
have the power and influence to counter this deliberate campaign to convince
us of our failure and the hopelessness of our plight.
We all have a
responsibility to say what is necessary in the interests of our joint welfare
and not what suits us as individuals in our moments of weakness. For the
positive, they are inevitably propping up the negative who lean heavily on
their shoulders. They are often challenging them with doom to seek
reassurance in the hope that they receive a positive answer. It's draining
and tests conviction. The positives are after all human and are influenced by
others, negative and positive.
By controlling the information we receive
is one thing, the other is to deny us the truth. This of course leads to a
great deal of guess work and speculation and so many of us become
experts....at least most of those that are deliberately negative in their
outlook. We all know that good news seldom makes the headlines just as bad
news usually attracts interest and attention. It is the attention seekers who
delight in spreading rumours which plays directly into the hands of those
that take the opposite view to the ideals of freedom and democracy. It is
they that have the means and the power of the Tax Payer to deliver this
unrelenting onslaught against us. However they can be defeated by Thought
Power, by us!
Those that wish to destroy our lives are creating an
illusion of no hope to make us give up the fight. They are endeavouring to
convince us that they are invincible and will be our masters forever - an
attempt to make us believe that we have lost. Every resource is deployed in
We must decide whether we are to be winners or losers.
Which is it? Make that decision and play to win or play to lose.
of their tactics are symptomatic of those that are about to capitulate, the
last desperate attempts to thwart our progress towards the victory that is
ours. Would they be behaving like this if this was not the case? Do not be
There are those that are listening to you when you speak who
are more insecure and more vulnerable than you. There are those that admire
and respect you no matter what you might think. Your juniors and seniors.
We have a duty to choose what we say and how we say it. We must instill
hope and make them feel better... Unselfish in an opinion or comment
to positively influence others. Give them strength to carry on. We are
all exposed to despondency which is a condition of the mind, the result of
mere words of others uttered mostly from the mouths of unqualified
Discover the passion, that is there, for your country and share
it with others. Consider its amazing achievements on the international
Reflect on its incredible beauty. Be proud, as you should
Don't get exhausted in protracted debate or argument with those that
suffer from self inflicted misery, those that continually shoot themselves in
the foot. Rather spend your time and energy with those that will listen to
your point of view and may not necessarily agree. The Yes buts will
always counter your positivity with a negative consequence of what you have
to say no matter what.
Remember, it will make you feel better when you
cheer up someone else.
Do not repeat negative, alarmist rumours for the
sake of it. Ask yourself, will this information (usually unsubstantiated)
help the other person or create fear and insecurity? Keep the bad news to
yourself and promote the good. It IS there!! Condition yourself and make it
habit forming to react to problems in a positive manner. That habit will
ensure that all you want to do is to solve the matter. It is only positive
people that invent, discover and create. It is the positive that win and
achieve the unachievable against seemingly insurmountable odds. A state of
Are you a fighter? Are you going to win or accept defeat at the
hands of a most despicable enemy?
Value today. We all know that our
immediate duty is survival. Give yourself that chance by adopting the frame
of mind that will guarantee you that chance. Why exasperate matters that are
problematic by re emphasizing the negative statement or rumour that you have
heard. Gain re assurance by associating with those that are positive and
strong and you will notice the difference. This is the same effect that you
can have on others.
For those not committed to prayer, try it and
remember to pray for those less fortunate than yourself ...you will notice
the difference in your day. Think of a way to help others in a material way,
how ever small. It will take your mind away from self pity ..away from your
own predicament and restore your determination to win through by seeing the
positive effects of your own actions. The feel good factor.
an end to this battle and we must not be lured into the trap of believing
there is not. Don't judge your country or your own situation on the present
bizarre man made circumstances. Look to the realistic future of prosperity,
peace and happiness that is promised. Plan you next holiday now. A visit to
friends and family. Set your goals short, medium and long. Focus ahead and
not backwards. Get on with life and make sure it is as close to normality as
possible. Defy these cowards. Don't let those that you despise beat you.
Remember those that need you more than you need them.
The old, sick,
lonely and traumatized. Those that have lost and suffered more than you. Get
committed for them.
When this is over, be able to reflect on your victory
and be proud of it.
You did not concede and you won! You were part of
history and helped build the foundation of a great new country.
positive, be positive and create positivity for
4. Subject JAG Open Letter Forum 5th April 2004 - 253
I feel I must comment on Concerned Citizen's observations from
this posting - CONGRAULATIONS! I couldnt have said it better
The state that Zimbabwe is currently in is all due to the
meddling and interference all those years ago, not just by Britain, but by
the rest of the so called 'free world'.
It will take action as seen in
Iraq or pressure as applied to Rhodesia to effect a change in Zimbabwe -
unfortunatly Zimbabwe has neither oil nor a sea port - so no one is
interested unless they have family within the country's borders!
twenty years time (probably less) Zimbabwe will resemble Biafra in the '60's
- there will be minimal population, no one will be fit, strong or educated to
work - the western world will have to feed them all.................and this
5. Subject JAG Open Letter Forum 5th April 2004 - 253 QUESTION FOR Concerned
Citizen Letter 3.
DO I HEAR THAT......... It is everybody elses fault but
6. Subject MDC Not To Return Land The recent statement by the leader of MDC,
Morgan Tsangvirai, that land seized from white farmers will not be returned,
solves quite a few problems.
It now opens the door fair and square to
ultimately hold the Zimbabwe Government ( meaning the Zimbabwean taxpayer )
responsible for eventual compensation, regardless of who caused the problem
and who governs at the time.
Wynand Breytenbach (Living happily in
letters published on the open Letter Forum are the views and opinions of the
submitters, and do not represent the official viewpoint of Justice for
Wednesday, April 14, 2004. 10:18am AEST ICC to stay out
of Zimbabwean cricket's meltdown
World cricket's governing body says it
will not interfere in the row threatening to derail Zimbabwe
A letter from 12 white Test players to the Zimbabwe Cricket
Union (ZCU) has called for a shake-up of the way the game is
The letter follows the dismissal of captain Heath Streak who was
sacked when he called for the removal of two selectors without first-class
The rebel players called for an independent mediator working
at a neutral venue to resolve the crisis, amidst allegations that a quota
system designed to promote the prospects of black cricketers meant Zimbabwe
were not always fielding their strongest side.
Cricket Council (ICC) president Ehsan Mani said it was powerless to intervene
in the internal affairs of one of its members.
"The ICC is aware of the
internal cricketing issues in Zimbabwe and I urge all parties involved to act
in the best interests of the game," said Mr Mani.
"The ICC is
obviously concerned about the current dispute but would not seek to intervene
in this type of domestic issue as it is internal to the Zimbabwe cricket
community," the Pakistani added.
Mr Mani also said he would discuss the
issue with Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) chairman Peter Chingoka when he
arrived in London later this month.
Mr Chingoka is due to address the
England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) at a Lord's meeting on April 20 as they
consider whether to go ahead with England's tour of Zimbabwe in
ECB officials had hinted they would bow to
British Government pressure and boycott the trip in protest at the policies
of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe.
However, under new ICC rules
agreed in Auckland last month, England risk a suspension from all
international competition and potentially crippling losses of up to $A133
million that has led ECB chiefs to indicate they will now go ahead with the
Ironically, the ECB's increasing resolve to go to Zimbabwe comes at
the very moment the country's international side appears to be
But the players' lawyer Chris Venturas, who handed over the
letter to ZCU chief executive Vince Hogg, told AFP in Harare that his clients
were willing to resolve the dispute.
"The players want to try and fix
this matter. They want to play. They want to go the extra mile for that. They
are dedicated to the sport in Zimbabwe and are keen to find a
"And so they, and Streak as well, are willing to play under new
captain Tatenda Taibu.
"But they do want to see considerable changes
made to the ZCU administration, in particular the make-up of the selection
"They see the way forward as being through negotiations conducted
in a calm atmosphere by an independent mediator and at a neutral venue. We
believe that is a natural and proper course of action, even at this
Mr Venturas said it was "no longer possible to talk directly to
the ZCU after what happened at our meeting last Thursday," which he described
as "shutting the door in our faces with much hollering and
"We (Streak, and fellow senior players Grant Flower and Andy
Blignaut) went to negotiate but it was not proper to carry on the way they
did," Mr Venturas said.
"And so we believe that at this stage we need
to have a calm approach to the problem with an acceptable independent person
examining all the issues, if we can find a way for that to
The ZCU is unlikely to back down, even
though the players have put forward the names of Ethan Dube and Mpumulelo
Mbangwa, who have Test cricket experience, as selectors. Both are
The selectors must choose the squad to face Sri Lanka in two Tests
and five ODIs, beginning on April 20 in Bulawayo.
Before any further
negotiations can get under way they must decide whether to include all or
most of the established whites, or bypass them with an entirely new
ZCU chairman Peter Chingoka was not immediately available for
Streak is set to be replaced by Taibu, a 20-year-old
wicket-keeper, who will become the youngest ever international captain if he
leads Zimbabwe out to face Sri Lanka in the first Test in Harare on May
Streak, who has played 59 Tests and 183 one-dayers, was recently
signed by English county Warwickshire for the coming season.
his international debut against Pakistan in 1993/94 and has career Test
wickets of 202 and best bowling figures of 6 for 87. He also made more than
1,000 Test runs with a top score of 127 not out.
Streak - the first
Zimbabwean to play county cricket when he turned out for Hampshire in the 90s
- has also taken 234 one-day wickets with a best of 5 for 32 and hit 2,752
runs with a highest score of 79 not out.
Zimbabwe: Attempts to Boost Falling Tobacco Production
Integrated Regional Information Networks
April 14, 2004 Posted to the
web April 14, 2004
As Zimbabwe's burley tobacco output
continues to fall, the Air Cured Tobacco Association (ACTA) has resolved to
take direct charge of marketing the crop in bid to restore price
competitiveness and woo back farmers who abandoned it in favour of the
According to ACTA chief executive officer David
Shack, small-scale tobacco farmers have been steadily abandoning air-cured
burley because of low returns, opting for the higher-priced flue-cured
variety and its firmer market prices.
He said the trend had
contributed to a decline in the country's annual burley output: last year the
country produced an estimated 1.5 million kg, but this was expected to
decline to one million kg in 2004.
"They [burley farmers] are also moving
to other crops whose inputs are easily accessible and supported by farmer
groupings," said Shack.
ACTA was expected to assume responsibility for
direct marketing of the product, as annual mass production had fallen to
levels that could barely sustain a viable auction system.
re-assessing the marketing strategy we also hope to maximise profits and lure
back most of the farmers, because burley production is cheaper," Shack was
quoted as saying in local newspapers.
Shack also said ACTA would engage
the government in working out how small-scale burley farmers could improve
access to inputs.
Meanwhile, the start of this year's selling season was
characterised by farmers threatening to boycott auctions in protest against
the low prices, blamed on the depressed exchange rate.
About 68,000 kg
of flue-cured tobacco worth Zim $449 million (US $128,000) had been sold by
the close of the first week of business last Thursday. This marked a
year-on-year decline of 7,000 kg for the first week of the auctions, from
75,000 kg to 68,000 kg.
The major buyers were Burley Marketing Zimbabwe
(BMZ), the Zimbabwe Industrial Tobacco Auction Centre (ZITAC) and Tobacco
Sales Floors (TSF).
Deliveries to the auction floors were affected by
late deliveries of coal for the curing process, a situation reminiscent of
last year when late deliveries were caused by the fuel
Zimbabwe has dropped from being the region's leading tobacco
producer to rank fifth after Zambia and Malawi, among other new
Both these countries have recorded significant growth in
agricultural production as a result of absorbing specialised and experienced
Zimbabwean commercial farmers, who were dispossessed of their farms under
the government's controversial land seizure programme from early 2000
contract sales which were expected to start last week have been postponed
again to a date yet to be announced as contractors are yet to meet some of
the stipulated conditions, the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board has
Inaugural contract sales were expected to start a day after the
auction floors opened on March 30 but there have been delays due to a
few outstanding issues.
One of the major problems that have emerged
has to do with the quantity of crop financed by specific contractors given
the fact that some contractors only financed part of the crop.
Government has said that contractors are only entitled to the crop
"Contract sales that were expected to start this (last)
week were delayed to a date to be announced as contractors are still to
fulfil some conditions required of them to be able to buy tobacco," said TIMB
Contractors who, for the first time, financed some tobacco
farmers this season, have assumed the role of both the auctioneer and the
While the crop under the contract system is still to be sold,
there was increased activity at the country's three auction floors last
Comparative statistics have shown that the quality of the crop
is significantly better than that of last year.
"The quality of
tobacco on offer so far promises to be better than
"Favourable tobacco styles that our market is known to
produce were evident," added TIMB.
A total of 800 000 kilograms of
tobacco worth US$1,5 million had gone under the hammer by close of business
on Wednesday, a figure that was 200 000 kg better than that delivered over
the same period last year.
The average price was US$1,76 per
Tobacco growers have maintained that the current blend rate, where
75 percent of their earnings is paid at the auction rate while 25 percent
is paid at $824 to the US dollar, may push them out of
"Whilst prices in US$ terms for majority grades were slightly
above those in a similar period in the previous season, growers were not
happy with the prices as is evidenced by a high percentage of torn tickets
for price consideration that constituted nine percent of the total
offerings," said TIMB.
A grower may withdraw crop on the auction floor
if the price offered in not attractive.
Most of the farmers said they
were hopeful that the responsible authorities would look into the issue of
the blend rate and compensate for their losses.
Supervisory Commission has stepped up preparations for the forthcoming
general elections pencilled for March next year.
The training of monitors
is already underway, with at least 10 monitors expected to have been trained
in every district by the end of the month.
A statement by the commission
said training had already been completed in Harare, Manicaland, Masvingo,
Midlands, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East and Mashonaland West
ESC chairman Cde Sobusa Gula-Ndebele is currently visiting
Bulawayo, Matabelaland North and South to oversee the training of monitors
and supervise the sitting of the nomination court to receive candidates for
the Lupane parliamentary by-election.
The nomination court for the
Lupane by-election - to be held on 15 and 16 May - sits today at the District
Administrator's Complex in Lupane.
The training of district monitors
comes a few weeks after the commission carried out a training programme for
40 provincial co-ordinators, which was held in February.
provincial co-ordinators and district monitors are expected to spearhead the
commission's preparations for next year's elections, which include carrying
out civic and voter education for the registration of voters scheduled for
May and June this year.
The provincial co-ordinators and district
monitors would also be tasked with the recruitment and training of thousands
of election monitors required for the March 2005 polls.
of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Cde Patrick Chinamasa, last
month indicated that preparations for the general elections were at an
He made the remarks after a tour of the
Registrar-General's Office by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.
He said preparations had
gone well except for Harare and Bulawayo, which needed to be delimited into
districts headed by district administrators following the appointment of
resident ministers for the two cities.
Cde Chinamasa said the demarcation
of Harare and Bulawayo would enhance progress in the preparations for the
During the tour of the Registrar-General's
Office complex, the committee's members were taken around the various offices
to see for themselves the computer network and developments underway to
ensure that the elections would be conducted in a manner that would be free
All the election data is being computerised and the
voters' roll has been improved, after the Registrar-General's Office came up
with a "Blockers Manual".
A Blockers Manual is a book, which contains
names of people, addresses, national identity numbers and any other requisite
information for voter registration.
The new process of "blocking"
constituencies by sub-dividing wards was expected to facilitate easy counting
of voters in the wards.
The Government has proposed a number of
amendments to the Electoral Act ahead of the parliamentary
This comes in the wake of wide debate on the pending general
elections, with the opposition MDC threatening to boycott the
The Electoral Amendment Bill, which was published in the
Government Gazette released last month, proposes to amend a number of clauses
concerning issues such as voter education, the voters' roll and postal
ballots, among others.
The Bill will be presented to Parliament for
debate and approval.
THE Supreme Court yesterday postponed indefinitely an
urgent appeal by suspended High Court judge, Justice Benjamin Paradza, in
which he is challenging the composition of a three-member tribunal probing
him for alleged misconduct.
Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, sitting
with Justices Vernanda Ziyambi and Elizabeth Gwaunza, ruled that the parties
should arrange for another date for the next hearing but the tribunal probing
Justice Paradza would continue with its work.
The judges were at pains
to comprehend what Justice Paradza's lawyer, Advocate Bryant Elliot, wanted
the court to do.
Adv Elliot had asked the court to postpone the matter to
today because Mr Jonathan Samkange of Byron, Venturas and Partners, who was
instructing him, was tied up at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison in another
He suddenly made a U-turn asking the court to postpone the matter
to Thursday next week, saying Justice Paradza's other lawyer, Advocate
Jeremy Gauntlet of South Africa, would have arrived in the country by
Mrs Fatima Maxwell of the Attorney General's Office, who was being
assisted by Mrs Loice Matanda-Moyo and Mr Nelson Mutsonziwa, said she was not
opposed to the postponement of the matter by one day.
Justice Chidyausiku said the request for deferring the matter for hearing to
next week was inconveniencing the court considering that the case had been
indicated to be an urgent matter.
Said the Chief Justice: "I had to ask
one of the judges not to go on leave until this matter is heard and there is
no way I can deal with the matter when the judges are not there because the
court is also now on vacation."
Mrs Maxwell said postponing the matter to
next week would inconvenience the tribunal because witnesses had already been
called to start giving evidence today. The court was at pains to comprehend
what Adv Elliot was seeking afte r he failed to make himself clear as to
whether he was prepared to argue the case or not.
After a brief
adjournment at his request, he suddenly asked Chief Justice Chidyausiku why
he was hearing the matter now when last year after Justice Paradza's arrest
he had recused himself.
"You recused yourself at the hearing of the
constitutional matter, but today you are sitting here," said Adv
The Chief Justice said he recused himself earlier on after
holding a meeting with all judges of the High Court after Justice Paradza's
He said if Justice Paradza's defence team wanted to apply for his
recusal, they could go ahead because it was their right to do so.
Elliot said if the tribunal proceeded with its work without Adv Gauntlet's
presence, Justice Paradza's rights would be
Mrs Maxwell contested Adv Elliot's contention
on the basis that Justice Paradza's defence team filed their papers saying
the matter was urgent but they were now changing that stance.
Justice Chidyausiku said he had given everyone an opportunity for the matter
to be heard but nothing tangible materialised.
Last week, High Court
judge Justice Lavender Makoni dismissed an application by Justice Paradza
seeking an interdict to stop the tribunal's hearings until the Supreme Court
heard his challenge to the composition of the tribunal.
was appointed by President Mugabe to hear evidence of how Justice Paradza
allegedly attempted to defeat the course of justice in February last
The tribunal comprises Justices Dennis Konani Chirwa of Zambia, who
is chairing it, John Mroso of Tanzania and Isaac Mtambo of Malawi. The
three are practicing Supreme Court judges in their respective
Charges against Justice Paradza arose between January 15 and
23 last year when he allegedly tried to influence his Bulawayo-based
colleagues to release the passport of Russel Labuschagne, his business
partner in a safari-hunting venture.
Labuschagne was at the time on
bail on charges of murdering a fisherman he had found poaching fish at his
camp in Binga.
He has since been convicted and sentenced to 15 years'
The suspended judge allegedly phoned Justices Mafios Cheda,
George Chiweshe and Lawrence Kamocha, asking them to release Labuschagne's
passport, which was being held by the court as part of his bail
Justice Paradza, it is alleged, said he risked losing $3,5
million if Labus-chagne's passport was not released for him to travel to
The tribunal is expected to take about three weeks to complete
its investigations on whether the conduct of the judge constituted
misbehaviour in terms of the Constitution and then make recommendations to
The inquiry, which initially started behind closed doors,
will now be open to the public after representations were made and acceded
President Mugabe amended the terms of reference of the tribunal to
allow the hearing to be held in public.
Companies Reviewing Issue of Joint Venture to Procure Fuel
April 14, 2004 Posted to the web April 14,
Indigenous oil companies are still reviewing the issue
of a joint venture to procure fuel for themselves, which was mooted by the
Petroleum Marketers Association of Zimbabwe.
According to the chairman
of the Indigenous Petroleum Marketers Association, Mr Gordon Musarira, there
are still concerns about the Special Purpose Vehicle Company that is supposed
to be the company through which the fuel would be procured.
companies that have gone a long way to improve and assure national supply, we
feel that the SPVC must be properly understood so that there is no threat to
the national supplies as what happened in the past.
"We also call upon
the multinational companies to be patriotic and committed. Security of
supplies must be assured and double standards are not acceptable," he
Mr Musarira said that as indigenous oil companies, together with
the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe, they believed that irreversible
progress had been made to steady supplies and that the cost of importing fuel
should be reviewed for the benefit of vehicle owners.
"We assure the
nation that efforts to improve supplies continue and large stocks are coming
into the country with the support of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe," he
The Special Purpose Vehicle Company, which was registered last
month, was expected to be given preferential treatment at the foreign
currency auction floors, thereby making it easier for it to purchase fuel
from outside the country.
The company was expected to solve the issue
of different companies bidding for foreign currency at different prices on
the auction floor, which was resulting in some companies being successful
while others were not.
The new company was also expected to bring sanity
to the pricing system because individual companies were currently bidding at
different prices and buying fuel from different sources, resulting in
different pump prices being charged by different service
Petrol prices are ranging between $2 900 and $3 000 a litre
while the price for diesel was between $2 700 and $2 900 a litre.
The sight of dark cumulonimbus
clouds building up over drought-prone areas of Zimbabwe is enough to raise
hopes of a better cropping season. In late October when the first rains
break, the long, dry months are quickly forgotten as the sparse, golden brown
stubbles of grass turn a resplendent green. However, the onset of the rainy
season brings with it a frightening phenomenon that claims dozens of lives
until the season ends in April. Zimbabwe is one of the world's most
lightning-prone countries: the holder of a world record in lightning-related
fatalities. During the rainy season, lightning strikes normally kill up to
100 people, mostly rural children. Many more people are maimed and countless
livestock lost. Yet the Meteorological Services Department of Zimbabwe says
it is possible that lightning deaths in the country might actually be
under-reported by 20 to 30 percent and lightning injuries by more than 40
percent, as many deaths and injuries go unreported.
number of lightning confirmation claims forwarded to the Department for
processing by property insurance companies, confirms that damage to equipment
supplying electric power and telecommunications services, as well as to
business and domestic premises is quite immense," says meteorologist Desmond
Manatsa. Zimbabwe has the uncanny distinction of being one of lightning's
most favorite places. It is even cited in the Guinness Book of World Records
as the country where a single bolt of lightning claimed its largest number of
victims. This occurred in a village near the eastern border town of Mutare in
1975 when 21 people were killed while sheltering in a hut. The majority of
lightning-related fatalities and injuries in the country are usually recorded
in rural rather than urban areas. This is simply because large buildings
provide protection for those within due to the metal frame of the building
and specially designed lightning conductors. People in buses and cars are
also safe because of the metal frames around them.
continued to be a worrying blight in the country. For instance, it struck and
killed 10 people attending a church service on a Sunday afternoon in November
2002. Sixty-one others attending the service in the town of Chitungwiza, 35
kilometers south of the capital Harare, were hospitalized with burns. The
dead and injured were members of the Johane Masowe sect, the country's
largest religious group, which normally conducts meetings in the open air,
often under trees. So far in the current season, 39 deaths attributed to
lightning have been reported. Police say most of the dead are children
sheltering under trees. Study results released by the University of Zimbabwe
in 1991 after research spanning seven years showed that lightning fatalities
in the country average 90 to 120 per annum. Of all the districts, Gutu, which
is quite populous, led with about 10 fatalities per annum. Binga, Marondera
and Rusape follow a long way behind with three to four deaths per
Amazingly, lightning figures recorded in Zimbabwe (150,873 sq.
miles- 390,761 sq. km.) were higher than those recorded in the whole of the
USA. (3,537,441 sq. miles- 9,161,972 sq. km.) where, according to the
Lightning Safety Tips Board of America, the phenomenon kills an average of 73
people per year. Since the surface area of Zimbabwe is many times smaller
than that of the United States, these statistics stick out prominently on the
global scale. "Even when comparing us to our neighboring South Africa, whose
storms are just as fierce as ours, we still find that it has a record of a
total of 400 fatalities in 10 years," Manatsa says. The high lightning toll
in Zimbabwe can be explained by the prevalence of granite outcrops all over
the country. The University of Zimbabwe established that granite is
radioactive and discharges gamma rays up to the cloud, thus ionizing the air
molecules. Abundant granite outcrops, together with soot from the numerous
kitchen huts, offer the much-needed opposite charge on the ground, while
tall objects offer the easiest route for electrical discharges to steer its
way to the ground.
Manatsa says a point was also found in the
Rhino and Lion Game Reserve in northeastern South Africa where lightning
struck repeatedly and had been doing so since the beginning of time. Here,
unusually high concentrations of dolomite rock draw 15 lightning strikes a
month. In 1996, lightning struck and killed an 18-foot (5,5m) tall giraffe
while standing on a hill in the reserve. A year later, lightning electrocuted
his mate. Shortly afterwards, lightning struck and injured a young giraffe in
the park. Consequently, the reserve sold its last giraffe in 1998 and turned
down more. An additional explanation of the high number of deaths
attributable to lightning is the effect deforestation has had on leaving huts
and standing people as the highest objects around. The Zimbabwe power
corporation has, as a result, designed a simple, cheap lightning conductor to
protect huts and small buildings. The high lightning incidence in Zimbabwe
has its own traditional explanations. Among the Shona-speaking people, the
traditional belief is that healers can control the phenomenon, directing it
to foes as they please. Samuel Moyana is one such traditionalist who believes
lightning is not just a force of nature. He says lightning does not kill
anyone without having been sent by an adversary. "God's lightning, which is
normally accompanied by a storm," he explains, "does not attack people but
will strike a tree."
LIVINGSTONE town clerk George Kalenga yesterday disclosed
that a wrangle has erupted between Zambian and Zimbabwean commercial sex
workers who cross into Livingstone.
In response to a question from
Livingstone councillor Harrington during the councillors' capacity building
workshop at Wasawange Lodge, Kalenga said there was a wrangle because
Zimbabwean sex workers offered lower rates than their Zambian
Harrington wanted to know why the HIV/AIDS rate remained
high in Livingstone despite having a lot of non-governmental organisations
working to fight the disease.
"A wrangle has broken out in Livingstone
between Zambian commercial sex workers and Zimbabwean commercial sex workers
who are now crossing over into Livingstone and offering lower rates," Kalenga
said. "Our local commercial sex workers have mobilised themselves and are
chasing away the international sex workers to compounds and suburbs, while
they hold authority in town."
Without revealing his sources, Kalenga said
the Zambian commercial sex workers have complained that men preferred
Zimbabwean sex workers who offered lower rates.
He said most of the
Zimbabwean sex commercial workers crossed into Zambia as marketeers and their
influx has continued despite Livingstone City Council charging them K10,000
as a deterrent.
And Livingstone district AIDS task force chairperson
Michael Biemba said Livingstone's geographical position also contributed to
the high rate of HIV/AIDS.
Biemba said the city is close to Victoria
Falls town in Zimbabwe which has a 55 per cent rate of HIV/AIDS, adding that
Kasane in Botswana and Katima Mulio in Namibia which were only a few hours
away, also have a high rate of HIV/AIDS.
Former Livingstone mayor
Frederick Mwendapole said the poverty that has resulted from the closure of
more than 60 industries in
Livingstone has left many residents with no
option but to engage in whatever would earn them a living.
why most women are engaged in cross border trade where they sometimes have to
use truck and taxi drivers to smuggle their merchandise into their country,
which makes them vulnerable," said Mwendapole.
THE 70 suspected mercenaries, arrested last month in
connection with the foiled coup in the Equatorial Guinea, were yesterday
further remanded in custody to tomorrow.
They are being charged under
the Public Order and Security Act, the Firearms Act and the Immigration
The group briefly appeared before provincial magistrate Mr Mishrod
Guvamombe at a court convened at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison where they
The suspects' lawyers are tomorrow expected to make an
application for refusal of remand.
Clad in khaki prison garb, the
suspected terrorists were escorted from the prison cells into the big
make-shift court under tight security.
They walked into the court in
pairs with their hands handcuffed and legs shackled.
Some of them
waved to friends and relatives who sat in the court gallery which had about
40 people there to witness the hearing.
Among the friends and relatives
were two women who wept as the suspects entered the court.
against the group - comprising 10 whites, two coloureds and 58 blacks - stem
from June 2003, when Simon Francis Mann was allegedly contracted by Severo
Moto, an exiled Equatorial Guinean opposition political leader, to assist in
toppling the president of that country through a violent coup.
and one Nick du Toit recruited 69 men with military backgrounds to carry out
the task, the State alleges.
The 70 suspects allegedly conspired to
possess dangerous weapons which were to be used in the process.
furtherance of their intentions, it is alleged, they underwent
vigorous refresher courses in weapon handling and urban warfare.
February 10 this year, Mann and Du Toit came to Zimbabwe and approached the
Zimbabwe Defence Industries, a local arms and ammunition maker and supplier,
and purchased dangerous weapons.
These included 61 AK rifles, 300
offensive hand grenades, 45 000 AK ammuniti on rounds, 20 PKM light machine
guns, 30 000 PKM ammunition rounds, 100 RPG 7 anti-tank launchers, two 60mm
mortar tubes, 5 080 60mm mortar bombs, 20 flares, 500 boxes of 7.62 by 54mm
ammunition, 1 000 boxes of 7.62 by 39mm ammunition, 1 000 rounds of RPG
anti-tank ammunition and 50 PRM machine guns.
It is further alleged
that on March 6 this year, Mann, Laurens Jacobus Horne and Jacob Hermunus
Carlse came to Zimbabwe as an advance team to finalise the gathering of the
weapons that were going to be collected the following day.
day, the State alleges, the remaining 67 suspects, aboard a Boeing 727
aircraft marked N4610, landed at Harare International Airport to collect the
Before they could conduct pre-loading inspection of the weapons,
the suspects were arrested.
The suspects unlawfully attempted to
possess the aforesaid weapons, the State alleges.
Under the Firearms
Act, the suspects face two counts.
They are being charged with conspiracy
to purchase and possess firearms without certificates, and conspiracy to
purchase and possess ammunition without a certificate.
further alleges that the suspects conspired to carry out a coup in the West
African state of Equatorial Guinea and arranged and purchased arms from ZDI
On March 7, the plane belonging to Dodson Aviation, South
Africa, left Pelokwane Airport in South Africa for Zimbabwe.
were three crew members and 64 passengers, the State alleges.
at Harare International Airport, the suspects refuelled their plane and
proceeded to Manyame Airbase where they intended to collect the arms and
ammunition, that also included 10 Browning pistols and 20 flares, the charge
According to the State, the arms and ammunition had been purchased
on February 10 by Mann and Du Toit.
Mann was not aboard the plane, but
had come to Zimbabwe in March as part of the advance team with Carles and
The three --- Carles, Mann and Horne --- are facing separate
charges of allegedly planning to acquire the weapons, arm the mercenaries and
proceed to Equatorial Guinea to launch the coup.
It is also alleged
that they failed to show firearms certificates for the arms and ammunition
when they were asked to do so upon their arrest.
For breaching the
Immigration Act, the suspects are facing allegations of "entering or
assisting any person remaining in or departing from Zimbabwe and making false
The 67 men are from Britain, South Africa, Angola, Namibia
and the Democratic Republic of Congo with one Zimbabwean in the
It is alleged the crew had no manifests of passengers and they
falsely gave out that they were carrying cargo.
misrepresented to the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe that there were
only three crew members and four loaders on board, the
The passengers, alleges the State, had specific
instructions to switch off the lights on landing, remain still and not to
allow anyone to enter the plane to avoid detection.
As a result of the
false declaration, it is alleged, the passengers and crew members managed to
enter Zimbabwe without the knowledge of immigration officials.
suspects are also charged with contravening the Aviation (Air Navigation)
Regulations by allegedly making a false statement or declaration to a CAAZ
Chief law officers Mrs Mary Zimba Dube, Mr Lawrence Phiri and
Mr Stephen Musona represent the State, while Mr Jonathan Samkange of Byron
Venturas and Partners, instructed by South African lawyers Advocate Joubert
and Arwin Griebenow, represents the suspected terrorists.