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

Back to Index

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Mugabe 'bullies way to poll win'

Andrew Meldrum in Pretoria
Wednesday March 31, 2004
The Guardian

President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party was accused yesterday of using
violence to win a parliamentary byelection in which one opposition supporter
was shot dead and 50 more taken to hospital.
Mr Mugabe's party lost the Zengeza seat in Harare in the June 2000
parliamentary elections. It had been considered a stronghold of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Mr Mugabe's party bussed in violent youth militia who set up camps in the
constituency and threatened voters during the campaign and the voting.

The ZANU-PF candidate, Christopher Chigumba, won 8,447 votes, compared with
6,706 for James Makore of the MDC, according to results announced by the
state-run election commission.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

New Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe Catholic Church in the dock

By Staff Reporter
A ROMAN Catholic Church priest on Monday stood before a Zimbabwean court on
behalf of the Hwange diocese in Matabeleland and admitted illegal dealing in
foreign currency.

The church was convicted on its own plea of guilt and is awaiting
sentencing. The church admitted to dealing in foreign currency with a
Bulawayo firm - the Treger Group of Companies - in contravention of the
Exchange Control Act when the country was facing crippling foreign currency

Prosecutors said between February 2002 and March 2003, the church gave
Treger Group over US$105 000, and received $93,75 million in exchange
despite the fact that both organizations were unauthorized to deal in
foreign currency.

Father John Rufaro Mudereri pleaded guilty before Bulawayo magistrate
Clifford Foroma.

He was remanded out of custody to 2 April for sentence to give the
magistrate time to fix the fine and also allow the church to raise money
that it deprived the State through the transaction.

A Catholic Church-run hospital was also facing similar charges late Tuesday
afternoon. Mater Dei Hospital, arguably the best health institution in
southern Zimbabwe was arraigned for dealing in forex on the black market.

Several institutions have been dragged before the courts for trading on the
black market during a crippling shortage of foreign currency before the
central bank adopted corrective measures.

Observers say the decision to drag the church before the courts could be
part of a cynical government plot to silence the church which has condemned
human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.

Arch Bishop Pius Ncube, leader of the church in Matabeleland has been a
fierce critic of President Robert Mugabe's government and was heavily
involved in compiling names of victims of the Matabeleland genocide which
claimed over 20 000 lives between 1982 and 1987.

Mugabe's information minister Jonathan Moyo has dismissed him as a "mad
bishop who doesn't deserve our condemnation but our prayers".
Back to the Top
Back to Index


      Lawyers of 'mercenaries' lodge complaint of assault

      March 31, 2004, 18:03

      Lawyers have laid a complaint with Zimbabwe's prison authorities after
eight South African detainees said they were assaulted in their cells at the
maximum security Chikurubi prison on Monday.

      The men are part of a group of 70 South Africans arrested at Harare
International earlier this month and accused of being mercenaries on their
way to overthrow the government of Equatorial Guinea.

      Peta Thornycroft, the SABC Zimbabwe correspondent, says the lawyers of
the South African detainees says their clients were escorted back to their
cells after their appearance and forced to stripped and all their possession
were thoroughly searched. The lawyers say their clients were then assaulted
and poured with water over their naked bodies.

      According to the lawyers, prison conditions in Zimbabwe are not
conducive to healthy standards and most of cells are over crowded. The
alleged mercenaries have apparently made arrangements for food parcels to be
sent to them from South Africa. The Zimbabwean authorities are investigating
the assault allegations.
Back to the Top
Back to Index


MDC threatens to boycott Zim elections

      March 31 2004 at 01:40PM

      By Basildon Peta

Zimbabwe's main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, is
considering a boycott of all future elections after losing what it
considered a safe seat in a weekend by-election in Harare.

The MDC's national executive committee - the supreme decision-making body -
meets this weekend to review its defeat in the Zengeza parliamentary
by-election in the Harare township of Chitungwiza.

The ruling Zanu-PF party's candidate, Christopher Chigumba, won with 8 447
votes, compared to 6 706 for the MDC's James Makore, a majority of 1 741.
The results showed a massive turnaround from the general election in June
2000 when the MDC won with 14 814 votes to Zanu PF's 5 330 - a majority of 9
484. It also won all the other constituencies in Harare.

Although the MDC had already been toying with the idea of boycotting the
next parliamentary elections in March next year, it said the open rigging of
the Zengeza by-election had added impetus to the need to make a final

      'The Zimbabwe government must act now to regularise the political
"We will make a decision on whether to participate in any elections from now
onwards unless the electoral regime is totally overhauled," said MDC
spokesperson Paul Themba Nyathi.

The by-election became necessary when the MDC's Tafadzwa Musekiwa, who won
the seat in 2000, fled to the United Kingdom after facing several death

The American state department condemned violence, intimidation and
irregularities in the by-election, saying in a statement that the vote could
not be considered free or fair.

It said conduct of the election raised doubts about prospects for upcoming
national elections.

"It became another symbol of the ruling party's pursuit of electoral
victories at the expense of the peaceful expression of democratic rights,"
it said.

"For future elections to be free and fair, the Zimbabwe government must act
now to regularise the political environment," it said.

United States Embassy officials were among independent observers who
monitored the poll.

The independent Zimbabwe Election Support Network reported that heavily
armed troops and police had been deployed in the district while Zanu-PF
militants had established bases in Zengeza and camped outside polling
stations to intimidate potential opposition voters.

An MDC supporter was shot dead and dozens were injured on polling day on
Sunday, which was conducted by an electoral super-visory commission
handpicked by President Robert Mugabe.

Eyewitnesses said the shot that killed Francis Chinozvima, 22, was fired by
minister without portfolio and Zanu-PF commissariat secretary Elliot

Police have confirmed the death but made no arrests. - Independent Foreign

  .. This article was originally published on page 10 of The Star on March
31, 2004

Back to the Top
Back to Index


Zimbabwe's young Robin Hoods arrested

      March 31 2004 at 01:07PM

Two Zimbabwean street children who stole Z$1000-million (about R800 000)
used the money to buy food and clothes for other street kids before booking
into a hotel, a newspaper reported on Wednesday.

The two allegedly conspired with the accountant of a retail outlet who
agreed to leave the day's takings on her desk and her office window open,
the state-run Herald reported. One of the children used the money to buy
food and clothes for himself and his friends before booking into a hotel.

Both street kids and the accountant have been arrested. - Sapa-AFP

  .. This article was originally published on page 1 of The Cape Argus on
March 31, 2004

Back to the Top
Back to Index

ECB caught between a rock and a hard place

Wisden Cricinfo staff

March 31, 2004

David Morgan, the chairman of the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB), and
David Stewart, their chairman of finance, have arrived in Barbados ahead of
Thursday's third Test. Although the pair are ostensibly on holiday, the
cricket won't be the only thing on their minds. During the match, they will
be holding informal discussions with their West Indian board counterparts
over England's scheduled tour of Zimbabwe next winter.

The decision on whether the tour will go ahead was due last week but, as
expected, was delayed again. The latest rumours are that it might be early
May before anything is decided. The longer it is put off, the greater the
flak the ECB attracts from those who accuse it of having double standards.
But Morgan admits that cancellation - still the odds-on favourite - could
cost English cricket something in the region of £5 million in fines and
consequential losses.

The underlying fear is that the punishment could go further than a monetary
hit - the ICC might also consider suspending England from international
cricket. There is a growing feeling of resentment within the ICC - fuelled
by one or two senior figures - and the longer this affair drags on, the more
the position of those individuals strengthens.

England's cancellation of the tour would probably lead to retaliation from
the Indian board - led by Jagmohan Dalmiya, an outspoken critic of the ECB's
self-proclaimed moral stance - which could call off India's three-match
one-day series, that is due to take place in England shortly before the ICC
Champions Trophy. Two of those matches are already sold out, and Stewart
warned that the consequences would be "dire".

The only thing that would get the ECB off the hook would be for the
government to step in and issue a directive that England shouldn't tour.
There are no signs that it has any intention of doing that, although further
talks are planned with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the Sports,
Media & Culture department in the coming fortnight.

Meanwhile, Morgan and Stewart will be keen to sound out the view of the West
Indies Cricket Board during their stay in Barbados. Things might be going
well for England on the field, but off it the storm-clouds are gathering by
the day.

© Wisden Cricinfo Ltd

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Sunday Times (SA)

Tone for Zimbabwe elections set: MDC

Wednesday March 31, 2004 07:01 - (SA)

HARARE - Next year's general elections in Zimbabwe are likely to be
characterised by chaos, said the country's main opposition which lost
weekend by-elections to President Robert Mugabe's party.

The ruling Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front  (ZANU-PF) won a
weekend parliamentary by-election that was marred by violence in Zengeza, on
the outskirts of the capital.

"Zengeza gave the people of Zimbabwe a foretaste of the chaos that awaits
the nation in 2005," said Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC).

One opposition supporter was killed and others were injured during violent
clashes between opposition members and the ruling party during polling.

"An analysis of the Zengeza by-election shows that political competition
here remains a bloody affair 24 years after independence," said Tsvangirai
in a statement.

Zimbabwe is due to hold its regular five-yearly legislative elections in
March next year.

"ZANU-PF is prepared to kill and satisfy its hunger for power and
oppression," alleged Tsvangirai.

The US government has also condemned the elections saying they were not free
and fair.

In a statement, the US State Department said what should have been a
"routine and peaceful expression of the local constituency's political will
... became another symbol of the ruling party's pursuit of electoral
victories at the expense of democratic rights".

"We condemn the violence, intimidation and irregularities that occurred
prior to and during the ... by-election," said the US government.

The MDC has threatened to boycott next year's polls unless certain
conditions are met to level the playing field.

Its demands include the repeal of parts of the media law and aspects of the
security law that "curtail the freedom of political parties to campaign".

It also wants the establishment of "a genuinely independent electoral
commission" responsible for the entire electoral process.

The government plans to tighten electoral laws to give the state-appointed
electoral supervisory commission the monopoly to conduct voter education.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Business Day

Panning to live as Zimbabwe's mining industry falls apart


THE riverbeds around Gwanda in southwest Zimbabwe are disfigured by mounds
of earth dug up by people panning for gold. On the hillsides, areas are
pockmarked with the evidence of illicit mining: deep trenches newly
excavated; abandoned pits reopened.

Hundreds of people often women and children work a patch, day and night;
using picks, shovels and paraffin lamps made from bottles. They clamber down
disused shafts on improvised ladders of barbed wire.

You would not call this a bonanza; rather a search driven by desperation.
The gold-seekers, a phenomenon usually associated with African states poorer
than Zimbabwe, represent the underside of the country's economic wreckage in
the latest phase of Robert Mugabe's 24-year presidency.

While the country's established gold industry struggles to keep going, up to
1-million Zimbabweans, according to mining industry experts, are now engaged
in panning.

Despite a recent crackdown on contraband gold exports and a government offer
of premium prices for small producers, industry experts believe a large
proportion is smuggled out of the country. There is unproved speculation
about involvement by government figures.

This is happening at a time when Zimbabwe depends more than ever on the
mining industry principally platinum, gold and chromium to earn foreign
exchange. Chaotic land reform has devastated the country's agricultural
export economy. Production of tobacco, long the top export earner, has

Official gold output has also fallen, reduced by more than 50% since 1999 to
slightly more than 12 tons last year. Ian Saunders, president of the Chamber
of Mines of Zimbabwe, says it has been overtaken by illegal output, maybe
another 18 tons, worth about 230m on the world market.

Gold companies have been battling against soaring inflation, now running at
an annual rate of more than 600%, and crippling government conditions.
Saunders says the government "seems to be listening".

But some big mining houses have already been moving out of Zimbabwe. Lonmin,
formerly Lonrho, sold its five gold mines in 2002 to Mzi Khumalo, a South
African entrepreneur, for what was considered a knockdown price of $15,5m.
Rio Tinto has reduced its gold operations to one mine.

And now Zimbabwe's former top producer, Falcon Gold, based in Bulawayo, is
threatening to close its entire operations, warning that it "will not
survive the year under the current gold revenue regime".

Andrew "AB" Beattie, its MD, says it has stopped all development at its
mines and is living "from hand to mouth" after seeing all cash resources
eaten by inflation. It has put a fifth of its workforce on compulsory leave.

Falcon Gold's troubles were further accentuated recently when the company
and Beattie were arraigned on charges of illegal exchange dealings. All gold
in Zimbabwe is supposed to go through the central bank. Its
banknote-printing arm, Fidelity Printers and Refiners, acts as sole buyer
for gold and processes it for export.

Big producers are entitled to receive half the value of their gold in
foreign currency to pay for immediate supplies including fuel and
electricity. Another quarter is converted into Zimbabwe dollars at the
official rate of Z824 to the dollar. The remainder is paid at a more
realistic variable rate, currently about Z4200.

Mining companies complain that by using the official rate the government is
simply taking part of their revenue, in addition to a new 3% royalty being
levied since January. Without that drain on their income, prospects might
still look good.

The dilemma for owners is whether to continue spending money on developing
and exploring for new ore reserves or take the easier alternative of
"killing" their mines, removing the already accessible deposits and then
shutting them.

Unusually for African mining, Zimbabwe's gold industry involves dozens of
middle-sized companies. Up to now these have proved sufficiently
cost-effective to make lowgrade deposits viable. This industrial fabric is
now under threat.

Costs have spiralled out of control. Duties payable on dollar-denominated
imports have risen more than 7000% since December because of changes in
foreign exchange rules.

To curb contraband, the authorities now buy gold from small claimholders at
Z60000/g, more than the world market price and three times the local
currency price available to larger companies. The money is paid in bearer
cheques temporary highdenomination tender that Zimbabwe began issuing last
year when bank notes began to be in short supply.

But a lot of gold has stayed outside official channels. A panner digging
illegally for ore in shallow veins of quartz can count on obtaining a gram
in a day or two and selling it to a middleman for Z40000, enough to survive
minimally for maybe three weeks.

As Zimbabwe's crisis rumbles on, damage done to this and other sectors of
the economy, once one of Africa's strongest and most broadly based, seems
more likely to be permanent.

Moves towards political conciliation in preparation for a post-Mugabe
government which could clear the way for a large foreign aid programme and a
new economic strategy to go with it are proving more difficult than many

"The longer we go down the road we're going, the longer it's going to take
to come right," says one mine manager. "Really, we're in free fall now,"
says another, "and it's hard to know how to stop it". Financial Times
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Interfaith Gathering Sets Its Sights on Conflict Resolution

Joyce Mulama

NAIROBI, Mar 31 (IPS) - The past few days have seen religious leaders around
Africa take the lead in addressing violence on the continent.

In Zimbabwe, clerics from various Christian denominations gathered in Harare
and Bulawayo to pray for peace in their country, which is in the throes of
political and economic hardship. Colleagues from neighbouring South Africa,
Botswana and Zambia travelled to Zimbabwe to join the services.

Further north, in Kenya, something similar was taking place.

Over 40 religious leaders from East and central Africa met in Nairobi over
the weekend for a summit that focussed on the work the various faiths were
doing in conflict situations in these regions.

The interfaith meeting, which concluded Monday (Mar. 29) was the third of
its type in Africa. Clerics from West Africa came together for a similar
conference last October in Liberia, while their Southern African
counterparts gathered in 2002. An interfaith peace summit for North Africa
is scheduled to take place in July this year.

In a communiqué released after the meeting, the Christian, Hindu and Muslim
leaders pledged to make joint visits to conflict areas, and lobby
governments to end violence in their regions.

"We (had) abdicated the responsibility to be accountable in
peace matters. We have therefore resolved that from now onwards, we as the
interfaith community will play a leading role in engaging our governments in
the search for peace," Ishmael Noko, General Secretary of the Lutheran World
Federation, told IPS.

Said Prabhu Pattni of the Hindu Council of Africa, "It is religious leaders,
regardless of their faith, who reach the grass-root populations. It is the
same leaders who minister to these communities in their day to day life, and
so they are rightly placed to educate communities to embrace a culture of

Of particular concern was the situation in Sudan, where substantial progress
in peace talks between government and the rebel Sudan People's Liberation
Army has not stemmed violence in the western Darfur region.

In a briefing released Tuesday, the United Nations Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said civilians in Darfur were
being attacked daily as government forces, their supporters and rebel groups
battled for control of the region.

OCHA warned that the humanitarian situation in Darfur was worsening, with
thousands of internally displaced Sudanese experiencing water shortages and
disease. About 750,000 people are believed to have fled their homes.

Somalia, which has been gripped by faction fighting since the fall of
President Siad Barre's government in 1991, was also a source concern at the
Nairobi meeting - as were the ongoing clashes between government troops and
rebels from the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in northern Uganda.

Ethiopia and Eritrea are still trying to bring a definitive end to their
border conflict, which erupted in 1998, while the fragility of a December
2002 peace deal in Congo-Kinshasa was highlighted this weekend during an
alleged coup attempt.

"If the government of Uganda wanted to end the war, it would have done so a
long time ago because it has the capacity. But there is no political will to
contain the war," said Macleord Baker Ochola, the retired Anglican Bishop of
Kitgum Diocese in northern Uganda, who has lost a wife and daughter to the

Ochola now serves as Vice-Chair of the Acholi Religious Leaders Initiative,
which seeks to promote peace in the region.

The LRA rebellion, which began 17 years ago, has displaced almost two
million people in Uganda. Last month, the group allegedly murdered more than
200 people in a northern refugee camp - an incident described as the worst
attack in LRA history.

The interfaith meeting gained particular significance from the fact that
religious differences have taken a toll on the region where it was held.

In Sudan, the Muslim north has long been at odds with the Christian and
animist south. Proposals to entrench Islamic courts in Kenya's new
constitution have also raised temperatures in that country, with
Christians - who make up more than 80 percent of the population - demanding
that this clause be scrapped.

The Vice Chairman of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims, Alhaji Yusuf
Murigu, said at the meeting that "People of different religions must learn
to live peacefully with one another, accepting their religious diversity.
They must embrace the gift of dialogue."

His words were echoed by Mvume Dandala, General Secretary of the All African
Conference of Churches, who said an example of interfaith harmony in Africa
would "translate into (the continent's) contribution to global peace in a
world that is tearing apart from religiously motivated wars". (END/2004)
Back to the Top
Back to Index


EU cash for African peace

The EU has agreed a ?250 million fund to help Africa run its own
peacekeeping initiatives.

Just before EU representatives meet their counterparts from the newly-born
African Union at the end of the week, Europe's governments have given the
green light to fund the Peace Facility.

This facility will be totally independent of EU operations and wholly under
the control of the African Union - a continent-wide union of African states
along the EU model.

"With the African Union in the driving seat, Africa has demonstrated a
strong resolve and its security agenda is fast becoming a reality," said
development commissioner Poul Nielson.

"I see the EU's speedy approval of the Peace Facility as recognition of the
credibility and authority with which the African Union is taking
responsibility in the area of peace and security."

The agreement will help set a positive tone for the EU-AU summit on Thursday
and Friday.

After an earlier summit scheduled for Lisbon was scrapped with Europe
unwilling to let ostracized Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe set foot on
European soil, the two sides are now back around the same table.

One EU official called the summit an exercise in "confidence building after
the cancellation of the Lisbon summit".

In addition to the Peace Facility, EU and AU representatives will also talk
over the first ever pan-African report on debt.

Although it is yet to be endorsed politically, it is a step forward to
cooperation between the two continents.

Other discussions will focus on the multilateral trading, integration
between the African regions and ensuring that countries are run responsibly.

"There is a limit to what can be expected. The AU is still finding its
 feet," said a source.

The EU-AU summit is also being touted as a clear political forum beyond the
scope of existing financial mechanisms already carved out in previous

EU development commissioner Poul Nielson and foreign affairs chief Javier
Solana will accompany representatives from the current and future EU
presidencies, Ireland and the Netherlands.

Back to the Top
Back to Index


      Toddler attempted kidnap remand

      A man has appeared at Cardiff Crown Court accused of attempting to
kidnap a toddler from a busy shopping centre.
      Zimbabwe-born Mthokozisi Zondo, 28, is charged with trying to snatch
the two-year-old girl from an Argos store.

      The girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had become separated
from her mother in the city centre when she was allegedly approached.

      Judge Roderick Denyer, QC, remanded Zondo in custody.

      The incident was captured on CCTV footage in the Queen's Arcade
shopping centre in Cardiff.

      Prosecutor Sue Ferrier said: "There are a number of videos in this
case which need to be viewed."

      Zondo, who lives in the Canton area of the city, spoke only to confirm
his name during a five-minute hearing.

      The court heard that the defendant is an asylum seeker, whose
application for residency in Britain has been turned down.

      The judge said: "Bearing in mind his status as an asylum seeker any
application for bail would have to be considered very carefully."
Back to the Top
Back to Index

The Guardian - excerpt...

Yesterday in parliament

Press Association
Wednesday March 31, 2004

Ministers were challenged to "stop walking by on the other side" over
Zimbabwe. Mr Ancram called for the government to freeze the assets of
wealthy businessmen who fund President Mugabe, extend EU sanctions and ask
the UN to monitor food distribution. Junior Foreign Office minister Chris
Mullin said the government took the Zimbabwe issue "very seriously indeed
and we have been extremely proactive".

Back to the Top
Back to Index