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

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      Zimbabwe Moves to Import Large Quantities of Food
      By  Peta Thornycroft
      15 April 2005

Zimbabwe's food crisis is worsening and the government has formed a task
force to handle the crisis.  Sources say the government will appeal for food
donations from the international community.

The Grain Marketing Board, Zimbabwe's only legal grain trader, has around
88,000 tons of stored maize, according to statistics submitted to the
government and has ordered 150,000 tons from South Africa, according to
grain suppliers there.

Also contributing to shortages are planting delays. According to the
Zimbabwe Farmers Union, which represents more than 100,000 small-scale
farmers, unavailability of seed maize, late availability of fertilizer and
lack of power for plowing contributing to a diminished crop.

As a result, Zimbabwe's maize deficit is expected to be about 1 million
tons, and about 700,000 tons will have to be imported before the next
harvest in a year's time.

Though the government has not confirmed it because they say they are still
estimating the size of this year's crop, analysts say it will likely
authorize an international appeal for food aid in June.

Last year President Robert Mugabe suggested that Zimbabwe was on the road to
self-sufficency.  He told the international community that Zimbabweans had
grown 2.4 million tons of maize and the population would choke if donors
continued to provide food.

Since the collapse of commercial agriculture in 2001, which impacted heavily
on peasant farmers, western countries, through the World Food Program and
US/AID provided food for up to 5.5 million people, or nearly half the
population until late last year.
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Zimbabwe seen to need SA food, but who pays?

April 15, 2005, 19:45

Drought and poor seed distribution may force Zimbabwe to import more South
African food, traders say, but many doubt whether President Robert Mugabe's
government has the money. Aid workers say this year's drought would have cut
the staple maize crop anyway, while Mugabe's critics say chaotic seizures of
white-owned farms over the past five years have left the nation's
once-thriving farm sector in ruins.

"Even in the commercial areas it would have been bad," said one aid worker.
"But those guys would have had irrigation. There could be real suffering
this year." Some wonder if Zimbabwe's food needs might be funded by China or
Iran both wooed as part of Mugabe's "Look East" policy aimed at developing
new friends for a government widely reviled in the West. "We don't know
where they will get the money from," said another aid worker. "(Iranian
President Mohammad) Khatami was in Zimbabwe recently, so we wonder if it's
someone like that."

With state-supplied seeds and fertilisers arriving late or not at all, some
aid workers say Zimbabwe's overall maize crop could be as little as 300 000
to 700 000 tonnes well short of the 1.8 million tonnes they say the country
needs, and estimates of a one million-tonne 2004 crop. South Africa on the
other hand is expecting its best harvest in over a decade after good rain,
but much of the rest of the region also faces shortages after late-season
droughts destroyed much of the crop in Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique,
leaving South Africa the only regional source for grain.

Some traders say the rest of southern Africa may need as much as 1.5 million
tonnes of South African maize to stave off starvation in a region where the
HIV/Aids pandemic has left many weakened and unable to farm. Zambia, Malawi,
Mozambique and the kingdoms of Swaziland and Lesotho can either buy the food
themselves or ask for food aid, but no one knows how Zimbabwe will meet its
shortfall. - Reuters
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Globe and Mail, Canada

British journalists deported from Zimbabwe

Friday, April 15, 2005 Updated at 12:14 PM EST

Associated Press

Harare - A judge acquitted two British journalists Friday of overstaying
their visas and ordered them deported following their arrest while covering
Zimbabwe's disputed March 31 parliamentary elections.
On Thursday, Sunday Telegraph reporters Toby Harnden and Julian Simmonds
were acquitted of the more serious charge of working as journalists without
accreditation, an offense that carries a two-year prison term.

They entered Zimbabwe on March 20 from Zambia and were given seven-day
tourist visas. In his ruling Friday, Magistrate Never Diza said it was
unclear whether Mr. Harnden and Mr. Simmonds were told when their visas
expired, as no date was marked in their passports.

"The accused will get the benefit of the doubt," he said.

Mr. Harnden said they were looking forward to returning to Britain and
seeing their families and "getting on with their lives."

"We feel very pleased that justice was done in the court today," he said in
a telephone interview. "We have been declared 'prohibited persons' and we
are going to get on the first possible flight out of the country."

President Robert Mugabe's government had held Mr. Harnden, 35, and Mr.
Simmonds, 45, in jail until Wednesday under a special order prohibiting
their release on bail. They were held first in police cells, then at a
Harare prison.

Zimbabwe's Media Commission accredited more than 200 foreign-based
journalists to cover the elections but said it refused 50 others because
they or their news organizations were said to be hostile to Mr. Mugabe's

A Swedish journalist who took time out from covering the election to
investigate the effects of Mr. Mugabe's seizure of 5,000 white-owned farms
lost his accreditation and was deported.
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Mugabe Reshuffles Cabinet After Disputed Election
Fri Apr 15, 2005 04:10 PM ET

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe on Friday reshuffled
his cabinet in the wake of last month's disputed parliamentary election,
putting a couple new faces into key posts but retaining most of the old
Mugabe appointed former ambassador to Britain Simbarashe Mumbengegwi as
foreign minister, while the key post of information minister went to
Tichaona Jokonya, a former ambassador to the United Nations and most
recently chief executive of Zimbabwe's state tourism body.

Acting Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa, who has helped slow the country's
economic slide since taking up the job last year, was allowed to keep his

Former Speaker of Parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa, once seen as Mugabe's
preferred successor but sidelined in a ruling party power struggle late last
year, was given a relatively low-profile job as minister for rural housing
and social amenities.

Mugabe, 81, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, has been
battling a severe political and economic crisis over the last five years
which many critics blame on his policies. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party swept 78
seats of the 120 seats contested in the March 31 elections while the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) won just 41 seats -- 16 down
on its 2000 performance.

One seat went to an independent candidate, former Information Minister
Jonathan Moyo.

But a further 30 seats in the 150-member house reserved for presidential
appointees and traditional chiefs ensured ZANU-PF got a two-thirds majority.

The MDC has charged ZANU-PF with widespread electoral fraud, allegations
that are backed by major Western governments but dismissed by most African
observer missions who gave the poll high marks.

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Only a Few Can Afford Life-prolonging AIDS Drugs
Eunice Mafundikwa

HARARE, Apr 15 (IPS) - Emily Muronda, 55, spent seven months in hospital in
2003. She had been down with AIDS-related complications, which saw her in
and out of the hospital, that year. Muronda's ailments included
tuberculosis, severe vaginal thrush and pneumonia.

On her doctor's advice, Muronda, a widow, had her CD4 counted to measure the
strength of her immune system. As her doctor had expected, her count was a
mere 52. Because her count was less than 200 she was immediately put on
life-prolonging anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs).

''To many people, including my own relatives, I am a moving ghost. I look at
myself in the mirror every morning and I do not believe my eyes. I am here
today because of ARVs,'' she said, delightfully.

Muronda is among thousands of Zimbabweans who can afford private medical
insurance. For a minimal charge, a person living with HIV can access ARVs
through schemes organised by his or her insurer.

CIMAS insurance, one of the pioneer medical aid schemes, to make ARVs
locally accessible, charges less than a dollar for its members seeking to
access ARVs. The drugs cost between 24 dollars and 57 dollars for generics
and the price is higher for branded versions.

Martin Dumba, a seasonal worker at a tobacco firm in Zimbabwe's capital
Harare, has developed AIDS. His family continues to watch his health
deteriorate with each day that passes. ''The best we can do is pray that the
pain eases. We have been to hospital and they discharged him without any
medicine,'' said his wife Molly, who is also living with HIV. ''We heard
that some people are being given AIDS drugs. But when we asked at Harare
Central Hospital we were told they are no longer signing on new people.''

Dumba's story reflects the plight of the majority of Zimbabweans whose
government has publicly admitted that the country's health delivery system
has collapsed. The government has appealed to the private sector to assist
people living with HIV/AIDS.

Half of the 12,000 Zimbabweans on ARVs are doing so through the private
sector, while the rest are on the public scheme introduced three years ago.

Due to the continued deterioration of Zimbabwe's economy, most people have
had to sign off medical insurance. Medical insurance charges range from just
below 16 dollars for a basic cover to almost 161 dollars for the top of the
range cover per person per month.

The majority of workers, especially those absorbed by the informal sector,
cannot afford medical insurance.

''The government is most grateful to the private sector initiative of making
ARVs accessible to our people,'' Dr. Owen Mugurungi, head of the AIDS and TB
programme at the ministry of health and child welfare, told IPS.

Under the public initiative, Mugurungi said a person is put on ARVs if his
or her CD4 count is less than 200 or is showing clinical signs, such as
meningitis, of having developed AIDS.

A private laboratory charges almost 161 dollars to have a CD4 count check,
making it inaccessible to the majority of the people who need the treatment.

''This alone is very prohibitive and we call on the government to do
something about it if at all they are serious about rolling out ARVs to all
that need them,'' said Jonathan Musiiwa, a counselor with The Centre, a
hospice for people living with HIV and AIDS.

Despite the low statistics of Zimbabweans on ARVs, Mugurungi is encouraged
by the progress the government has made in making the drugs available to the
ordinary persons.

''We moved from a figure of 2,000 last year to the present 12,000 on ARVs
although half of this figure are people on the private sector scheme,'' he
said. ''Our problems gave us an opportunity to be more focused and support
national issues. Not many countries, even those receiving foreign grants,
can achieve what we have achieved with very little resources.''

Zimbabwe, considered by Britain and the United States as a ''rogue'' state,
has not received any donor support, including from the Global Fund
Initiative. The Fund told IPS at the World AIDS Conference in the Thai
capital Bangkok last July that the political context in which Zimbabwe finds
itself made the country ineligible to receive the funds, a position which
outraged human rights campaigners in and outside Zimbabwe. Ironically, the
theme for the Bangkok conference was 'Access for All'.

Mugurungi said all Zimbabwe's urban hospitals were now in a position to
dispense ARVs and that work was in progress to bring the more than 50
district hospitals to the same level.

The massive brain drain of nurses and doctors, said Mugurungi, had also had
an impact on the ARV initiative.

''ARVs are no ordinary drugs. They need to be dispensed by trained personnel
and currently this is where our focus is. We will not have any nurse dish
out these drugs,'' he said.

Mugurungi is delighted by Zimbabwe's progress. ''I am proud to say we have
one of the most sustainable ARV rollout programmes in the region, simply
because we are financing the initiative with local funds. We do not have the
problem of planning beyond the grant like most countries.''

Except South Africa, most of the countries in the 13-member Southern African
Development Community (SADC) such as Mozambique, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania
and Lesotho supplement their national budgets with donor funding to purchase

In Zimbabwe, support to the ARV public sector roll out plan comes from the
national budget and the National AIDS Trust Fund, set up with resources from
a statutory five percent levy on the workers' tax.

Jacqueline Bataringaya, a consultant on HIV and AIDS with Oxfam-America, an
international charity, called for improved health delivery service to levels
where it can absorb the stress imposed by HIV and AIDS. ''Otherwise we may
as well not talk about ARVs roll out,'' she said.

She said the 3 x 5 WHO target, three million people on ARVs in Africa by
2005, would remain a dream if the health aspects of the HIV and AIDS
epidemic were not given attention. ''The piece meal approach will not work.
This is why we have been defeated by HIV and AIDS. Most of the time we are
not looking at the total picture,'' she said, referring the difficulties of
attaining the UN World Health Organisation's (WHO's) 3x5 target.

Marian Gotha, HIV/AIDS programme officer at Oxfam-America, said: ''There is
a lot of talk of ARVs in the media and I am afraid this debate has not
filtered to the ordinary people in the village.''

''There is also need to intensify training to all levels of health workers
because we do not want a situation where people come from the cities with
ARVs and the health authorities at the rural health point do not know how to
administer them. The other challenge is to strengthen food security. We
cannot pump ARVs into empty stomachs,'' she told IPS in an interview.

Faith Phiri, a vendor at a flea market in Harare, told IPS: ''What we know
is that there is no cure for AIDS and that is why hospitals send people with
AIDS to die at home. If there is medicine that can help people with HIV, I
am sure then it goes to the rich people only.''

Ignorance about ARVs is widespread in Zimbabwe, even among the elite. ''I
don't know about a government initiative to make ARVs accessible. I know
that medical aid societies have programmes on ARVs but again I don't know
how someone can sign on. I think it is the responsibility of employers to
ensure that their workers have access to such information. People are dying
like flies in the banking sector,'' Ralph Muduku, a bank teller in Harare,
told IPS. (END/2005)
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Financial Times

A royal mess
By Tom de Castella
Published: April 15 2005 18:25 | Last updated: April 15 2005 18:25

At what point do journalists working in the shadow of a repressive regime
give up? There will be a few people asking themselves that question in today's
Zimbabwe. Another rigged victory for Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party - this
time by a landslide that gives him the power to change the constitution and
select his successor as president - is disastrous for most Zimbabweans. For
objective journalism it is a catastrophe.

If things were not depressing enough, last week came the state media's
triumphalist coverage of Mugabe's appearance at the Pope's funeral - and
that handshake. Just at a time when the independent press had the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission on the ropes over the discrepancy between turnout and
party results, Prince Charles changed the news agenda with an absent-minded
squeeze of tyrannical flesh.

The future is bleak, then. But that has been the case for some time -over
the past 18 months more than 70 journalists have been arrested and four
newspapers forced to close. Many foreign correspondents have been deported,
and at the time of going to press, two Sunday Telegraph journalists were on
trial for entering Zimbabwe without accreditation and overstaying their
visas. They could be jailed for two years.

Welshman Ncube, a constitutional lawyer and secretary-general of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), says Mugabe has been clever
with the media. Just as he has allowed parts of the judiciary to remain
independent, preserving a semblance of legitimacy, he has tolerated a degree
of dissent from the press. "You can have your weeklies - the Independent and
the Standard - because they are not seen as influencing the mass of the
people," Ncube says. "But an independent media in the sense of mass
circulation daily papers? Forget it, it's not possible as long as this
dictatorship's in place."

Mugabe's media manipulation reached its apogee in the hands of former
information minister Professor Jonathan Moyo. "Prof" is hated by journalists
for his ruthless remoulding of the media, and mocked for his comical tirades
on state television. In January he was sacked after he angered Mugabe by
secretly plotting against Zanu-PF's old guard. But the structures and laws
he put in place live on: above all, the Access to Information and Protection
of Privacy Act (AIPPA), which requires newspapers to be licensed and every
journalist to be accredited. It also bans the publication of "falsehoods",
which includes news that is "prejudicial against the state". It was AIPPA
that finished off the Daily News, a newspaper that had become a morning
fixture for young, urban Zimbabweans.

In most countries the idea that one newspaper can determine a nation's fate
would be melodramatic and unwelcome. But in Zimbabwe this idea was plausible
and hopeful. The Daily News launched in March 1999 and was soon selling more
than 100,000 copies a day, far more than any other paper, and two or three
times that of the state's flagship, The Herald. Five years later it was shut
down by the government. Since then, most of the 167 journalists have left
the country or turned freelance. Only a skeleton online service survives.
The Daily News arrived in the same year the MDC was set up and the fortunes
of the two have been closely linked. Without a daily paper willing to give
it space, the MDC will always struggle to get its message across. It did
succeed in mobilising people during the election campaign but in between
polls it struggles to remain visible and fight off Zanu-PF's crude
misinformation machine.

Propaganda is everywhere in the state media and can sound bizarre to
foreigners, such as the Sunday News' headline "Zanu PF tsunami buries MDC".
An analysis piece in December's Herald shows the nature of political
coverage: "The MDC used the resentment against the escalating prices and
shortages of basic commodities as its launch pad. It was thus couched in
violence and went on to base its whole campaign on the transient politics of
the stomach, the strategy being economic sabotage to ensure the continuation
of protest votes."

That chilling phrase - "the transient politics of the stomach" - in a
country where thousands are starving because of Mugabe's fast-track land
resettlement programme, says it all. Meanwhile, television schedules are
interspersed with scenes of happy peasants hoeing fields in time to
traditional music with lyrics written by government ministers.

In this war on truth, the journalists of the independent press must man the
trenches. Vincent Kahiya, editor of the weekly Independent, was arrested
twice last year, the first time for a story about Mugabe's holiday to
Malaysia. He and his colleagues were jailed for two nights in a cell with 30
others, a blocked toilet, no blankets and no room to sleep. In January,
after a year of uncertainty and numerous court visits, they were taken off
remand as the state had failed to produce a case. Kahiya says arrest,
imprisonment and legal harassment, rather than prosecution, are the
government's tools. "All independent journalists have had to become
paralegals," he says. Many others say this results in self-censorship.

There is hope. Last month a court ordered the government's media commission
to license the Daily News to start publishing again. Whether the commission
honours this, and whether the paper can repeat its past heroics with a staff
of fewer than 30 journalists, remains to be seen. The miracle is that
despite everything Mugabe's regime has done, Zimbabwe's independent
journalists show no signs of giving up.
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Source: Agence France-Presse (AFP)

Date: 15 Apr 2005

Zimbabwe sends out warnings over Marburg
HARARE, April 15 (AFP) - Zimbabwe is urging public hospitals and border
officials to take "appropriate measures" following the outbreak of the
deadly Ebola-like Marburg virus that has claimed more than 200 lives in
Angola, an official said Friday.

"We have alerted our institutions in all the provinces that they should take
appropriate measures so that we avoid having the virus in the country,"
Health Ministry spokesman Bright Mpofu told AFP.

"We have advised officials to tighten the screening process at all entry
points so that suspected cases are quarantined and we are now in the process
of alerting the public through various media."

Mpofu appealed to all Zimbabweans be vigilant in the face of the threat
posed by the deadly virus.

"It's not the responsibility of the government alone to protect our
citizens," he said. "It is everyone's responsibility."

Zimbabwe has not recorded any case of the deadly virus.

The Marburg virus, whose exact origin is unknown and for which there is no
cure, spreads through contact with bodily fluids such as blood, excrement,
vomit, saliva, sweat and tears, but can be contained with relatively simple
hygenic precautions, according to experts.

The oubreak in Angola has overtaken an earlier outbreak in the Democratic
Republic of Congo as the largest ever recorded of the virus, first detected
in 1967 when German laboratory workers in Marburg, were infected by monkeys
from Uganda.


Copyright (c) 2005 Agence France-Presse

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Comment from The New Statesman (UK), 15 April

Lindsey Hilsum pities a post-Mugabe Zimbabwe

Dictators always ensure that what follows their rule will be worse. After
Mugabe dies, South Africa will have anarchy and warlordism on its border,
writes Lindsey Hilsum

The elections in Zimbabwe were like a bad film sequel. The plot was
predictable and the characters repeated what they'd said in part one, so we
shuffled out of the cinema before the end. Violence makes good TV, unlike
arithmetic, and the Zimbabwean government knew that the media would lose
interest if the argument came down to number-crunching when the poll was
over - which is why it is worth re-examining the concluding scene. By the
time Robert Mugabe was playing his bit part in the Pope's funeral, the final
polling figures for the 120 contested parliamentary seats had been
announced. The opposition MDC won just 41 - a loss of 16 - while Mugabe's
Zanu PF party had 78, up from its previous 63. Add on the 30 MPs that the
president appoints, and Zanu PF has an unassailable two-thirds majority.

So how did the party do it? Before the election, the opposition complained
that the voters' register was inflated with as many as two million "ghost
voters". The "ghosts", it seems, voted in the period between the point at
which the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission announced the number of votes cast
in a particular constituency, and the moment the same commission declared
the result. For example, in Manyame constituency, just outside Harare, the
commission first announced that 14,812 people had voted. The MDC candidate
won 8,312 votes, which should have made her the winner. But at the end of
the day, the number of votes cast suddenly rocketed to 24,303. A majority of
the 9,491 extra votes went to the Zanu PF candidate (who happened to be
President Mugabe's nephew). So he won, after all. A similar pattern was
repeated in 29 other constituencies. The electoral commission chairman,
George Chiweshe (a retired colonel), denied any rigging, saying that the
initial totals given for votes cast were merely "updates from people on the
ground which had not been verified". After the discrepancy was noted, it
took him a week to come up with this explanation.

On election day, I watched as voters patiently queued at polling stations in
the farming lands of Marondera East. The following day, it was announced
that the defence minister, Sydney Sekeramayi, who won the seat by only 38
votes in the 2000 elections, had increased his majority to 9,126. Again, the
number of voters shot up from the 25,193 initially announced, to 29,935. A
South African election monitor told us that he had been ejected from a local
polling station, and had to fight his way back in. None the less, the South
African government endorsed the election, and observers from neighbouring
African countries declared it "peaceful, credible, well managed and
transparent". Sources close to the South African government say Mugabe
agreed to limit violence on the understanding that the election would be
deemed sufficiently free and fair. The EU and the US, both relying on
resident diplomats, said it was rigged - but so what? Sanctions and travel
bans have angered Mugabe, but they haven't made him change his policies.

What will happen now? Nothing. The opposition's 39 legal challenges to the
2000 parliamentary results languish in court; none has been resolved. This
time the opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, said it would not go "the
legal route", but he has not indicated any alternative, leaving the
impression that he is weak and paralysed. The country is not on the verge of
an uprising: most Zimbabweans I met felt powerless. "We have become a
bantustan," wrote a friend in a despairing e-mail. "South Africa panders to
our leaders, and we provide them with cheap labour." The reaction of
President Thabo Mbeki provides an uneasy contrast to President Olusegun
Obasanjo of Nigeria. When Togo's leader, Gnassingbe Eyadema, died at the age
of 69 in February, Obasanjo acted swiftly to condemn an army-backed takeover
by Eyadema's son. Sanctions were imposed, arms twisted, and within three
weeks he had stood down to make way for elections.

Eventually Mugabe, who is 81, will also die. His chosen successor appears to
be Joyce Mujuru, a Zanu PF functionary whose main distinction is being
married to a guerrilla leader from the struggle against white rule in the
1970s. It seems unlikely that she could retain the loyalty of the ruling
party, let alone reunite the country. Dictators always ensure that what
follows their rule is worse: "Apres moi le deluge." Mbeki says - with some
justification - that it is ridiculous for the outside world to care so much
about Zimbabwe and not about the Democratic Republic of Congo, where more
than two million have died in a decade of civil war. But after Mugabe,
dissent among the Zimbabwean armed forces could turn to anarchy, and
factional rivalry to warlordism. Today, it's an argument over numbers, but
tomorrow Mbeki may have a much bigger problem on his border.
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Comment from The Cape Times (SA), 15 April

When you're up against a total onslaught, you need fighter jets

By John Scott

'So why do you need fighter jets?" I asked Solly Malinga, who is usually
willing to give me the inside story on events in Zimbabwe, because I always
report him faithfully. That country has just taken delivery of six K-8
fighter-jet training aircraft from China, each costing about $20 million,
with another six to come. President Mugabe says they will prepare pilots for
war. "You heard what our president said," said Solly. "We have enemies on
all sides. If they try anything, we'll bomb them to smithereens." "Such as
whom?" "The British imperialists for a start. Now that we have beaten them
in the election, they may want to invade Zimbabwe, re-colonise us and give
the whites back their land. The RAF should know that we will be waiting for
them, once we have trained our pilots. They mustn't think we'll welcome them
with open arms, just because our president shook Prince Charles's hand.
We're ready for Bush, too. We won't be a walk-over like Iraq."

"It's highly unlikely that the Brits will want whip up the winds of change
again, Solly. They were so relieved to get rid of Zimbabwe in the first
place that Maggie Thatcher gave you some Hawk fighters, in case you needed
to defend yourself against somebody. As for Bush, you're quite safe. You
haven't got any oil he might be interested in, not even in some of your
service stations." "Then there are the remaining 20 000 whites who still
haven't learnt their lesson and think they can go on living in Zimbabwe,"
said Solly. "We have to wage what our president calls the Chimurenga or
freedom war against them." "Not with fighter aircraft, surely?" "If you want
to see people get off the land in double-quick time, just do a couple of
strafing runs," said Solly. "It will finally get rid of the stragglers."

"Still, it seems a lot of money to spend on arms when millions of your
people are starving." "At least they will die grateful, because they are
free," said Solly. "Which reminds me, that's another thing we need the jets
for, to stop refugees returning. We don't want people back who left simply
because they were hungry. Cosatu will also think twice before trying to
cross the border again, to see what's happening. They'll be dive-bombed,
that's what will be happening." "I didn't realise your fighter jets would be
so busy," I said. "That's not the end of it," said Solly. "Morgan
Tsvangirai, Archbishop Pius Ncube and their mob are talking of a mass
people's uprising against the government. Well, we've got news for them, in
the shape of six shiny little babies warming up their engines on the
runway." "Surely not," I said. "When you're up against a total onslaught,
you must be prepared to take extreme measures," said Solly. "PW Botha taught
us that."
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Mail and Guardian

      Once thriving Zimbabwe in ruins


      15 April 2005 07:59

            advertisementA quarter of a century after independence, the
Chimurenga -- or freedom struggle -- is still part of Zimbabwean life.

            President Robert Mugabe continues to make use of this heroic
period in the young country's history to lend legitimacy to his rule.

            The pictures of those days are ever-present on the state-run
television broadcaster. Zimbabwe celebrates 25 years of independence on
April 18 -- and on that date Mugabe marks 25 years as the most powerful man
in the country.

            Then Mugabe was a hero of the freedom struggle, a founding
father on whom the hopes of the world for reconciliation between black and
white rested.

            The old regime dominated by Ian Smith for decades handed power
back to Britain formally for a brief period. The subsequent lowering of the
Union Jack in Harare was intended to symbolise the end of the colonial era.

            Zimbabwe was a model, achieving the highest economic growth rate
and the highest level of education in Africa under Mugabe in his early

            A quarter of a century later, the country is a mere shadow of
its former self -- "an outpost of tyranny" as United States Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice has called it.

            Zimbabwe has been run into the ground, last year suffering an
inflation rate of 600% and an unemployment rate that estimates put at 80%.

            The change in the country's affairs came with the new
millennium. In 2000 a credible opposition began to contest Mugabe's rule.

            The president used the tried and tested methods to fight it off.

            The white farmers were targeted to distract attention from a
costly military adventure in the Democratic Republic of Congo and faltering
land reform.

            Mugabe has driven about 4 000 white landowners from their land,
handing their productive farms to people within his own circle and party

            The consequences have been catastrophic. The nation, justifiably
proud of the educational standards it had achieved, was forced to watch as
its most competent people abandoned the country in droves.

            Where once Zimbabwe exported food to neighbouring countries, the
shortages of essentials are now an everyday reality.

            The days when Zimbabwe's constitution was seen as a model for
the continent are gone. Mugabe's Zanu-PF party has found ways to make any
utterances against the regime extremely dangerous.

            The corrupt and violent government keeps itself in power through
terror and intimidation. Since its victory in the April elections, which
were overshadowed by allegations of fraud, Zanu-PF is in full control.

            With its majority now above two-thirds, the party can change the
Constitution at will.

            The disillusioned and lethargic majority of the population has
long since tired of Mugabe's rhetoric about a new Chimurenga.

            Zimbabweans are poorer than they were at independence. Average
life expectancy has crashed by 20 years down to 33, but the president
continues strong at 81.

            Many are hoping that nature will take its course. Others point
to an alleged power struggle within the party that could open the way for a
credible opposition.

            Even if this happens, Zimbabweans will have to be patient. South
African economists believe 10 years will be needed to restore the
crisis-ridden country to some kind of normality. - Sapa-DPA

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Daily News online edition

      Independence celebrations should be low key

      Date: 15-Apr, 2005

      INDEPENDENCE Day, next Monday, ought to be celebrated with little of
the extravagance or extravaganza of ten or even 15 years ago. There is an
incurable tendency among politicians in Zanu PF to pretend that everything
is going smoothly while the reality is that the country is a veritable rut.

      An example is the performance of the economy, if it is still valid to
measure this by the strength of a country's currency against the major
currencies of the world. As of this week, you could buy Z$15 000 with one US
dollar. If Dr Gideon Gono insists that this indicates how successfully his
turnaround programme is performing, then we should all feel sorry for the

      In fact, evidence is slowly mounting that even President Robert Mugabe
may be labouring under the misapprehension that the people in general are as
ecstatic with his rule as the alleged Zanu PF victory of the 31 March
election seems to have indicated.

      He must have heard the joke about the death of the Pope, God and
himself, not to mention the joke about him canvassing to succeed John Paul
II by donating computers to the Vatican. A president who is loved and
respected by his people does not easily become the butt of such dirty jokes.

      He must know that more people in Zimbabwe believe the 31 March
election was rigged than believe it was totally free and fair.

      People believe they are not getting as much from independence as they
expected 25 years ago. There are fewer jobs, fewer chances of educational
advancement, fewer chances of obtaining first-class health delivery service,
fewer chances of obtaining housing at an affordable price and even fewer
chances of buying food at an affordable price.

      That the people voted for Zanu PF on the basis that they wanted to
"fix" Tony Blair is turning to be so much fiction. Even President Thabo
Mbeki has now said his government is "investigating" reports that the
elections were indeed flawed.

      Most of this is going to be an embarrassment to Mugabe, who is saddled
with so many sycophants that there is no guarantee anybody is telling him
the truth. Yet even he, experienced politician that he is, ought to be aware
that it would be incredible for his party to win so overwhelmingly strictly
on the basis of its shoddy performance in the last five years.

      Independence celebrations cannot be lavish, for this would be another
act of self-delusion.

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Daily News online edition

      IMF urges Zimbabwe to tackle economic problems

      Date: 15-Apr, 2005

      WASHINGTON -- With parliamentary elections over in Zimbabwe, a senior
International Monetary Fund (IMF) official said yesterday it was time for
the government to pay ttention to repairing its economy.

      President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu PF party scored a massive
victory at the March 31 poll, which has been disputed by the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Zimbabwe is about US$306 million in
arrears to the IMF, which has stopped lending to the government and is
considering expelling it from its ranks at a time when the country is
struggling with its worst economic crisis since independence in 1980.

      "The authorities know they need to implement one comprehensive
programme that revives economic activity in Zimbabwe. With the election
over, now is the time to move in that direction," Siddharth Tiwari, a deputy
director in the IMF's Africa department, said at a news conference before
the start of the IMF and World Bank spring meetings in Washington.

      Donors and investors have largely deserted the country due to the
country's reform policy in which white-owned farms were seized for
distribution to the poor, concerns about human rights abuses, a lack of rule
of law and uncertainty about property rights.

      Gross domestic product tumbled between 2000 and 2003 as agricultural,
mining and manufacturing output fell, inflation soared to around 600 percent
and the country faced chronic shortages of food, fuel and medicine.

      In February the IMF gave Zimbabwe six months to increase its debt
repayments and introduce policies to begin its economic healing. The board
acknowledged some steps the government had taken to turn the economy around,
but said it was not enough. Introducing structural policies and improving
the investment climate were key to revive the economy, Tiwari said.

      "From the commitments we have, they have the desire to move in that
direction," he added. Tiwari said donors would likely not return to Zimbabwe
until the government addressed its economic policies.

      "There are a lot of multilateral institutions and bilateral countries
willing to help, but (Zimbabwe) needs to move first," he added. - Reuters

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Daily News online edition

      SA studying reports on poll irregularities

      Date: 15-Apr, 2005

      JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki has denied press
reports that he had found Zimbabwe's recent elections to be free and fair
and said his government will investigate new reports which detail serious

      Mbeki told parliament on Thursday that his government would study the
reports from both Zimbabwe's main opposition party, the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) and the independent Zimbabwe Electoral Support
Network. They would then address whatever issues are raised.

      He welcomed the MDC move to challenge the poll results in the
Electoral Court and said the South African government's final verdict would
depend on the outcome of the case.

      Mbeki said he had never suggested that there had been no violations of
the Southern African Development Community guidelines, but had said he knew
of no actions that were "planned" that would render the elections not free
or fair.

      Answering a question from Democratic Alliance leader Tony Leon during
presidential question time, Mbeki indicated that in spite of a declaration
from cabinet on Wednesday that the election was a credible expression of
Zimbabweans' will, there was still space to find that the election was not
free or fair

      Mbeki also said South Africa's policy towards its beleaguered
neighbour would remain unchanged. "We have insisted for some time that the
solution lies in the hands of Zimbabweans and we will persist with that
position," he said.

      Observers said his replies revealed that Mbeki had communicated
closely with MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai before and after the poll.

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Please send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to: with subject line "For: Open Letter Forum".


Thought of the Day:

"You choose - the past or the future.  Pick one and stick with it" (from
the film, Message In A Bottle).


- Paving the way for SA: Zimbabwe: a lost case? - Martin Fick
- Re: Gerry Whitehead's letter (OLF 358) - Catherine Cockroft


LETTER 1: SA - ZW - A LOST CASE?, received 13.4.2005

by Martin Fick

Dear JAG


Go for it! You are right, no-one cares. The fact is people all think they
do. Saying it straight helps bring people to the crossroads and acknowledge
their position.

Without the facts one cannot take a position on an issue at all, and
actually everyone can continue feeling cozy and self righteous when you
don't know and are not confronted with the facts. This is about facts. It
is about being aware of what is really happening.

Smell the roses indeed. Thats why a message like this one by Eddie Cross
needs to be heard, especially by South Africans who maintain that it
"Cannot happen here."

Zim was a maginificent country, and whether people smell roses or cowdung,
it's still a sad situation. We have all lost something precious as a

Martin Fick

"If you are kind, people will accuse you of selfish motives - be kind
anyway. If you are successful, you will win both false friends and real
enemies - succeed anyway. What you spend years building, someone may
destroy overnight - build anyway. The good you do today, most people will
forget - do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may not
be enough - Give your best anyway. In the final analysis, it is between you
and God. It was never between you and them anyway."

Mother Teresa.



By Catherine Cockroft

Dear Jag

I agee entirely with Gerry's sentiments and share with you all a quote
attributed to Brian Raftopoulos which appeared in the Independent's
Opinion, which is worth taking note of:

"the lesson has to be learnt that politics is not out there for other
people to engage in; that if people retreat into their personal and family
lives, and ignore their loss of rights and liberties for long enough, then
the realities of such repressive encroachments will follow them into their
particular retreats".


Cathrine Cockcroft


JAG Hotlines:
+263 (011) 205 374 If you are in trouble or need advice,
                                  please don't hesitate to contact us -
                                  we're here to help!
+263 (04) 799 410 Office Lines

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