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Zanu PF Sings Malema Song

03/04/2010 09:05:00

Harare, April 03, 2010 - Twelve hours after he was banned by the Pretoria
High Court from singing Dubula Ibhunu (kill the boer), Julius Malema flew in
to a hero's welcome in Harare. A crowd of Zanu-PF supporters and Zimbabwean
government officials sang the song as a sign of support.

Flanked by his delegation and hordes of Zanu-PF officials and businessmen,
Malema looked surprised on hearing the song from Zanu-PF supporters, but
smiled, clapped his hands and started nodding in approval as members of his
delegation joined in.

He was then whisked away in a Mercedes-Benz ML owned by President Robert
Mugabe's nephew, Patrick Zhuwawo, as part of a 30-vehicle cavalcade.

The civil rights movement AfriForum brought the interdict against Malema in
the Pretoria High Court on Thursday night - the second time Malema had been
gagged in less than a week - in a bid, it said, to protect his life.

A viral SMS, which the ANC has deemed a "declaration to kill", spread across
the country this week, putting a R2 million bounty on his life.

Meanwhile, 20 000 people have joined an Afriforum Facebook site, paying R10
a time to help fund its court actions in its "Stop Malema" campaign.

On Friday, an incensed ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu warned AfriForum and
the Freedom Front Plus of the "unintended consequences" of the campaign,
saying "apartheid propaganda" like this had led to the assassination of SACP
legend Chris Hani. The ANC has approached Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa to
investigate who is behind the SMS.

Last Friday, the Johannesburg High Court indirectly silenced the firebrand
leader when it ruled that the use of the words "dubula ibhunu" was
unconstitutional and unlawful.

Malema is now also expressly forbidden from uttering any song of a similar
nature that incites violence.

On Friday, Malema received an unexpected boost from the Azanian Youth
Organisation (Azayo), which said singing Dubula Ibhunu was a reminder of
what remained to be done in South Africa.

Azayo spokesman Sibongile Somdaka said the song formed part of South
Africa's collective history and could not be abandoned to please "the
liberal media and white right-wing groups for the sake of reconciliation".

"So long as there is still a lack of ownership of our land by blacks and
fair distribution of resources... Azayo will continue to sing "shoot the
boere/dubula ibhunu" in all our gatherings... to remind the coming (sic) of
where we come from, and what still needs to be done in the country," he

AfriForum youth leader Ernst Roets told the Saturday Star this week that the
ruling actually protected Malema.

"People are really frustrated and scared by the statement. Independent

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Malema's 'Shoot the Boer' song welcomed in Zimbabwe

April 03 2010 ,

Thulasizwe Simelane, SABC Zimbabwe

ANC Youth League president Julius Malema has slammed what he says is the
most un-transformed judiciary that ruled against his singing of the
controversial 'Shoot the Boer' song.

In an apparent exploitation of a different jurisdiction, Malema has again
sung the song, this time during his visit to Zimbabwe. He says the country's
judiciary is comprised of those who were defeated through liberation songs
and harbour bitterness that influences their rulings.

The now infamous song banned by a South African court has however found
resonance in Harare. On Thursday, the North Gauteng High Court granted an
interdict barring the Youth League president from singing the song until the
matter is argued before the Equality Court.

MDC excluded

A senior Zanu-PF leader even substituted the word ibhunu, with Roy Bennett -
an apparent reference to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) treasurer.
Bennet faces a possible death sentence if convicted of illegal possession of
arms for purposes of allegedly committing terrorism, banditry and sabotage.

"We are not against whites at all, we are only against those whites who do
not see blacks as human beings," says Zanu-PF youth secretary, Absalom

The ANC youth leader's itinerary conspicuously excludes the MDC. "We have
no business with the MDC. When the time allows for us to meet the MDC for
whatever reason we will meet them. But, we are coming here to visit our
friend," says Malema.

The plan to only meet with the Zanu-PF party has upset the opposition MDC
party. The MDC's South Africa chair Austin Moyo says that sends a wrong
signal. This because of President Jacob Zuma's mediating role in breaking
the unity impasse in the country.

The controversial youth league president will meet senior Zanu-PF members in
the country's indigenisation and administration departments to learn more
about Zimbabwe's "revolutionary empowerment programmes". He is in Zimbabwe
by invitation from Zanu-PF Youth Minister, Saviour Kasukuwere.

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KP monitor says too many state actors in Marange

by Clara Smith Saturday 03 April 2010

HARARE - The presence of too many state agents at Marange diamond field
increases the risk of possible theft of diamonds, the Kimberley Process'
monitor on Zimbabwe Abbey Chikane has said.

The Harare government has deployed scores of police, soldiers and other
civil servants to oversee production and valuation of diamonds at sites
being worked by Mbada Investments and Canadile Miners, the two firms
licenced to exploit the Marange claims.

But Chikane said the move could be counterproductive adding that the
presence of too many government agents and officials many of them poorly
trained for the job created a loophole for diamonds to be stolen or swapped
with dirty stones originating from elsewhere.

"Too many government agencies are involved in monitoring and handling rough
diamonds. This poses the danger of diamonds being swapped or stolen in the

"Government agencies have recently deployed civil servants to monitor and
report on the diamond production exports and imports, however, most of these
individuals are not adequately trained or inducted into this new
responsibility," reads part of the report dated March 21, but not yet made

The 30-page report prepared by Chikane after his visit to Zimbabwe four
weeks ago also noted state security agents representing the government at
the mining and valuation centres lacked training and knowledge of the entire
process and were hence open to manipulation.

According to the report, both Mbada Investments and Canadile Miners' sorting
and valuation centres provided for "blind spots" because some of the areas
were not covered by security cameras. Apart from that, Mbada however had
more sophisticated equipment.

"Comparing like with like, Canadile Miners' mine is currently the size of a
small-scale miner with machinery and equipment that can be moved from one
site to another without much difficulty. Canadile sorting site their
security and monitoring control systems were inadequate, and diamond audit
systems were equally not up to standard, reads the report.

"Comparing like with like, Mbada Diamonds' mine is equipped on par with
medium to large mining operations in Botswana and Namibia. Mbada operational
and geological staff demonstrated knowledge of their mining operation."

The report adds: "Representatives of state security agencies present at the
(airport) 'hangar' do not seem to be adequately trained or experienced
enough to ensure that the manner in which rough diamonds are handled is
fully compliant with Kimberley Process Certification Scheme minimum

"There is no visible paper trail to track the movement of rough diamonds
from the safe to cubicles. Management of Mbada Diamonds would like to
believe that the current paper trail is adequate; however the KP Monitor
believes the system can and should be improved.

"The sorting and valuation site requires a senior well-trained and
experienced diamond auditor. At present the company has entrusted this
responsibility to a person who does not qualify for the job. However,
management promised they would employ a qualified person to take full
responsibility for implementation of audit policies, processes and

Chikane is next week expected to visit the country to inspect diamonds mined
at the controversial Marange field and confirm whether they were produced
and prepared in accordance with the world diamond watchdog's requirements.

If satisfied that KP standards were met Chikane will issue a certificate
allowing release of the stockpiled diamonds onto the international market.
Where Chikane declines to certify a particular lot of diamonds he will issue
a report to the government detailing what measures must be implemented
before that lot can be certified clean and fit for sale.

Diamonds from Marange (also known as Chiadzwa) require a certificate from
the KP to be sold on the international market under an agreement between
Harare and the diamond watchdog meant to end human rights abuses and other
illegal activities at the notorious diamond field in eastern Zimbabwe.

Marange is one of the world's most controversial diamond fields with reports
that soldiers sent to guard the claims after the government took over the
field in October 2006 from a British firm that owned the deposits committed
gross human rights abuses against illegal miners who had descended on the
Human rights groups have been pushing for a ban on diamonds from Marange but
last November, the country escaped a KP ban with the global body giving
Harare a June 2010 deadline to make reforms to comply with its
regulations. - ZimOnline

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Matombo, Petras to speak on Zim crisis

by Own Correspondent Saturday 03 April 2010

HARARE - Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) president Lovemore Matombo
and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights' Irene Petras have been invited to
speak on the political situation in the country during annual festival on
Africa to be held in The Netherlands later this month.

Matombo will be the main speaker during a panel discussion on the current
political impasse in Zimbabwe as well as the role of trade unions in the
country, according to a statement published by Amsterdam-based pressure
group Zimbabwe Watch.

Petras will speak on the ongoing human rights abuses that have persisted
despite the formation of a coalition government by President Robert Mugabe
and archrival Morgan Tsvangirai, now prime minister.

The partisan and selective use of the law by the police and the judiciary
has resulted in a surge in political violence against supporters of
Tsvangirai's MDC-T party.

The Afrikadag festival, which starts on April 24, comes as talks to break a
deadlock between ZANU PF and the MDC-T have hit a snag as the parties fail
to agree on sticking power-sharing issues, including reforms of the security
forces and the judiciary.

The dispute was expected to be referred to the 15-nation Southern African
Development Community (SADC) which is mediating in the Zimbabwe crisis.

Zimbabwe Watch is an independent coalition of organisations in the
Netherlands that aims to contribute to the creation of a democratic and
prosperous Zimbabwe for all Zimbabweans. - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe War Vets Seeking To Break Free

03/04/2010 08:43:00

Mutoko, April 03, 2010 - War veterans in Mutoko say they are fed up with
President Robert Mugabe violent policies and are seeking ways of breaking
free although they don't know how to do that.

Mutoko is in Mashonaland east, a stronghold area for Mugabe's Zanu PF.

"There are many of us who are fed up with the system but are afraid that if
they join ranks with the MDC (Movement for Democratic Change ) then they
will lose all they get from Mugabe such as land," said a spokesperson of a
group of war vets who say they are now facing persecution because they want
to break free, Misheck Nyakudanga.

According to Nyakudanga over a 100 bona fide war veterans in Mutoko and
Murewa are fed up of the system of violence but are unable to untangle
themselves from Mugabe's shrewd bondage.

"What we want as war veterans is a platform that will guarantee our safety
from Zanu PF, we are sick and tired of the intimidation in
rural areas," said Nyakudanga.

This comes hardly a few days when a Masvingo man, claiming to be a central
intelligence officer, Innocent Makamure said he felt used by the Mugabe
government and publicly apologised to villagers in his home area in Buhera
for taking a role in state sponsored violence that resulted in some MDC
activists beaten, tortured, harrassed and killed.

Nyakudanga said this group of war vets in Mutoko that had refused to
denounce and persecute MDC supporters in the bloody 2008 Presidential
Election run-off had their war benefits withdrawn, which include pension
funds and education assistance for children.

"We were called up and told that we should denounce the MDC. ...some of us
refused because we believed in the freedom of choice," he said.

According to Nyakudanga several war veterans were taken to Warwick Building,
a Harare Office of the Central Intelligence and threatened in a typical CIO
fashion to be thrown through the windows of a tenth floor building.

"We were summoned several times to Kangaroo Courts for re-vetting, some of
us we were declared that we never participated in the war of liberation,
even though I benefited from the Zd 50 000 grants that were given to war
veterans in 1997 and my membership number was 3545-08," he said.

Many war veterans in the area who faced the racist regime of Ian Smith, have
vowed that they will no longer be used by Mugabe to perpetuate his
stronghold on the nation for 30 years, said Nyakudanga.

Contrary to widespread belief that Mugabe is helping in the welfare of war
veterans, the former freedom fighters in Mutoko say they are
in fact living as paupers.

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Zimbabwean Youth Arrested For Mugabe Screen Saver Image

03/04/2010 12:44:00

Harare, April 03, 2010 - A Zimbabwean youth is being held at the Harare
Central Police Station for allegedly insulting President Robert Mugabe
through a screen saver on his cellphone which depicts Mugabe image changing
to a baboon.

The youth, Duke Mudenge (25), who is based at the Air Force of Zimbabwe's
Manyame Base was arrested by the military police before being handed to the

The youth stays with his uncle Squadron Leader Mudenge - the Air Force of
Zimbabwe's only bomb expert. He has colours received from President Mugabe
for his role in the Democractic Republic of Congo war. He was recently
called for retirement recently.

The arrest of his nephew is largely seen as a smear campaign against
Squadron Leader Mudenge.

The youth is being represented by his lawyers Listen Zingerere of Mutumbwa
and Mugabe Legal practioners.

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Plane evacuated on false alarm

Apr 3, 2010 1:05 PM | By sapa

An aircraft en-route from Zimbabwe to Johannesburg was evacuated minutes
after landing when a hijacking signal went off on Saturday, authorities

Air traffic control at OR Tambo International airport relayed the hijacking
signal it received from Zimbabwe, said a statement from the office of
national police commissioner General Bheki Cele.

The plane was carrying 113 passengers and six crew members.

"Within minutes (after landing) the passengers were tactically removed to a
safe isolated area where they were thoroughly screened," it said.

Upon further inspection, authorities found that the signal was a false alarm
that went off due to a technical error.

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UK-Based ACR Heads Back to Court Seeking to Enforce Zimbabwe Diamond Claims

Successive court rulings have found that ACR is the rightful holder of
mining claims in Marange - but Mines Minister Obert Mpofu has vowed never to
let the company take over operations there

Sandra Nyaira | Washington 02 April 2010

London-based African Consolidated Resources was to return to court in
Zimbabwe next week seeking to force the Ministry of Mines to comply with
High Court and Supreme Court rulings ordering government partners to halt
diamond mining operations in Marange.

Successive court rulings have found that ACR is the rightful holder of
mining claims in Marange - but Mines Minister Obert Mpofu has vowed never to
let the company take over operations there.

Mpofu, accused of barring members of a parliamentary fact-finding mission
from the Marange diamond fields this week, says ACR does not represent the
interests of Zimbabweans, an assertion rejected by the company, which has
black and local representatives.

Lawyer Jonathan Samkange, who represents the firm, told VOA Studio 7
reporter Sandra Nyaira that the government's failure to comply with court
rulings shows the rule of law has yet to be re-established.

Meanwhile, the Kimberly Process monitor for Zimbabwe, Abbey Chikane, said no
diamonds from Marange have been certified for sale yet.

Dismissing recent reports that the Kimberly Process had authorized
government joint venture partner Mbada Holdings to sell some two million
carats of diamonds from Marange, Chikane said his first certification visit
to Zimbabwe has not been scheduled. He said he made a fact-finding visit to
Zimbabwe last month and has submitted a detailed report to the Kimberly
Process working committee on monitoring.

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Zimbabwe Indigenization Minister Dismisses Proposed 10% Mines Equity Stake

State-controlled media quoted Kasukuwere as saying the chamber's proposal
comes nowhere near the 51 percent indigenous stake prescribed by the 2007
Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Act.

Gibbs Dube | Washington 02 April 2010

Zimbabwe Indigenization Minister Saviour Kasukuwere has dismissed as
"unguided and futile" a proposal by the Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines to set
aside a 10 percent equity stake for black Zimbabweans under the
indigenization program.

State-controlled media quoted Kasukuwere as saying the chamber's proposal
fell far short of the 51 percent indigenous stake prescribed by the 2007
Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Act.

"The proposal by the Chamber of Mines is not serious because they have to
understand that in this case we mean business," Kasukuwere said.

VOA could not reach Kasukuwere for comment.

Chamber of Mines sources said some top officials in President Robert
Mugabe's ZANU-PF party have their eyes on lucrative mines which they intend
to take over once the indigenization drive is in full swing.

Political analyst Bekithemba Mhlanga told VOA Studio 7 reporter Gibbs Dube
that Kasukuwere's dismissal of the proposal submitted by the Chamber of
Mines shows that he is pursuing ZANU-PF ideological goals and not a coherent
national indigenization policy.

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Senegal independence statue unveiled amid pomp and criticism

By Malick Rokhy Ba and Fran Blandy (AFP) - 5 hours ago

DAKAR - Senegal on Saturday unveiled a multi-million dollar statue marking
50 years of independence, with 19 African heads of state attending the
ceremony which sparked mass protest by opposition members.

"Africa has seized this monument. It is rare to have one country hosting
more than a dozen heads of state for this kind of event. That testifies to
their support," presidential spokesman Mamadou Bamba Ndiaye told AFP.

However, the cost of the new monument has been heavily criticised by
opposition groups who drew thousands to a march earlier in the day demanding
that Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade resign.

A massive crowd gathered around the foot of the bronze colossus, which is
higher than the US Statue of Liberty, as drums and music feted the arrival
of dignitaries.

Among them were African Union president and Malawian President Bingu wa
Mutharika and the head of the African Union Commission Jean Ping.

The presidents of Benin, Cap Verde, the Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast,
Gambia, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania and Zimbabwe were also present.

A delegation also came from North Korea, which built the statue, as well as
some 100 African-Americans, including Reverend Jesse Jackson and
Senegalese-American singer Akon.

Situated on a hill overlooking Dakar, the monument -- whose cost is
estimated at more than 15 million euros (20 million dollars) -- has been
attacked as a wasteful extravagance in hard economic times.

Riot police patrolled nearby streets earlier Saturday as demonstrators held
up banners demanding the president's resignation.

"The people demand ethical governance and reject the gangster management of
the Wade clan," read one placard.

Deputy opposition leader Ndeye Fatou Toure said the statue was an "economic
monster and a financial scandal in the context of the current crisis," in a
country where half the population lives below the poverty line.

Championed by Wade, the 50-metre (164-foot) monument has caused a mixture of
anger over its cost, and bewilderment over its style.

It depicts a muscular man emerging from a volcano with a scantily clad woman
in tow and holding a baby aloft in his left arm, pointing West towards the
Atlantic Ocean.

The depiction of a woman with a whisp of fabric covering her breasts and
skirting her thighs has baffled many in the overwhelmingly Muslim country,
where women dress demurely, and drawn criticism from Islamic leaders.

Opposition leaders object mainly to its cost, and to plans by Wade to profit
from the income it generates.

Wade provoked anger after he said he should be entitled to a third of the
tourism revenues expected to be generated from the site since, he argues, he
came up with the concept.

Senegal's opposition called for a boycott of the inauguration, urging
visiting dignitaries not to "be associated with a fraudulent operation
designed to satisfy Abdoulaye Wade's fantasies about our country."

Wade has previously described the statue in stirring terms.

"This African who emerges from the volcano, facing the West ... symbolises
that Africa which freed itself from several centuries of imprisonment in the
abyssal depths of ignorance, intolerance and racism, to retrieve its place
on this land, which belongs to all races, in light, air and freedom," he has

He hopes the monument will lure tourists, becoming an African version of the
Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Statue of Liberty in New York.

Senegal's independence day is on Sunday and military parades have been
planned with some 30 heads of state invited to attend.

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'Farming God's Way'

By Ephraim Nsingo

GURUVE, Zimbabwe, Apr 2, 2010 (IPS) - Mbuya Erica Chirimanyemba is a marvel among women, and men! Watching her digging holes in dry ground earlier this year, her neighbours thought the old lady had gone berserk. But 60-year-old Chirimanyemba was putting an alternative farming technique into practice.

And it has paid off so well her husband - who fled the district, defeated by perennial drought eight years ago - has come back home to see the wonders she is working on her farm.

"All along we have been getting it wrong, but now we are farming God's way, and things are working well for us," said the energetic 60-year-old.

Chirimanyemba is one of 10,000 small scale farmers in Guruve - an arid district in Zimbabwe's Mashonaland Central Province - who has adopted conservation farming methods.

Old dogs, older tricks

"Even in the past, this is how our parents used to farm before they started using draught power. The harvests were always very good then because this is God's way of farming. No matter how many cattle I have, I will never ever use draught power again. I now know the secret of productive farming," said Chirimanyemba.

The Sustainable Agriculture Trust (SAT) introduced Chirimanyemba to conservation agriculture in 2007. SAT is facilitating the adoption of conservation agriculture in Guruve, with support from the Food Agriculture Organisation under the EU's Global Food Facility, established in response to the food security crisis that developed in 2008.

Conservation agriculture

Conservation agriculture is a resource-efficient crop production practice based on three principles that enhance biological processes above and below the ground. The guiding principles involve minimum or even zero mechanical disturbance of the soil disturbance; keeping the soil covered at all times, either by a growing crop or a dead mulch of crop residues); and diversified crop rotation.

In addition, farmers use traditional crop varieties without herbicides or herbicide tolerant varieties. Crop rotation is also used to control pests.

The emphasis is on simple, low-cost tools such as ox-drawn planters and rippers. A Brazilian invention, the Fitarelli no-till planter is increasingly becoming a popular CA tool. It costs $500 and has been used to plant a variety of crops.

CA is credited with eliminating power-intensive soil tillage and reducing labour required for crop production by more than 50 percent for small scale farmer. According to the FAO, this is especially important for households affected by HIV and AIDS where children or the elderly are responsible for farm labour.

For mechanised farms, it reduces fuel requirements by 70 percent and the need for machinery by 50 percent.

Conservation farming involves planting crops in small basins or holes, which minimises tillage. In addition to reducing disturbance of the soil structure, the practice also saves time, energy and money as farmers without cattle or tractors of their own do not have to hire tillage. Other techniques mulching, and judicious mixing and rotation of crops.

During the dry season, Chirimanyemba dug thousands of small holes and packed them with fertiliser. When the rains came, she was poised to plant immediately while neighbours relying on conventional approach to plowing to prepare their fields scrambled to hire draught power and get seeds into the ground.

Support for farmers

In the 2009/2010 farming season, about 176,000 smallholder farmers nationwide received seed and fertiliser from the EU Food Facility. In February, the EU announced an additional $13 million of support, which will see 80,000 more families benefiting.

As small and large scale farmers prepare to harvest the maize crop in Zimbabwe, it appears yields are much higher for those farmers who use conservation agriculture than those relying on conventional tillage methods.

Ian Henderson, a former commercial farmer now working as an agricultural consultant, said he expected an average yield of 1.5 tonnes per hectare for the 10,000 conservation farmers in the district. This, he said, would ensure that the district has enough food reserves for the next 12 months.

In contrast, this growing season for farmers who used conventional methods will be a disaster. Crops that were planted late wilted before reaching fertilisation stage.

"Those who are not in the programme (of conservation farming) planted late, as they had to wait for the rains in order for them to start preparing their land. By the time they finished planting, our crops were already at knee height," said Judas Phiri, district supervisor for SAT.

"From the look of things," Henderson said," the yields are not that good for those farmers who use conventional tillage, as they had to wait for the first rains before they could prepare their land and plant. For each day a farmer delays to plant after the first rains, you lose 120 kg per hectare. That is a lot, as it translates to more than one tonne in just one week."

Adapting to conditions

Climate change is creating a nightmare for those who rely on conventional methods. The head of Mavhunga village, Teddy Chihoko, said farmers were having difficulty planning ahead.

"These days it is difficult to tell when the rains will start," said Chihoko. "This conservation agriculture programme has proven to be very useful in helping farmers prepare on time. It has helped us a lot to develop as a community and to fight poverty."

After two successful harvests using the conservation techniques, Mbuya Chirimanyemba is the talk of the village. She was even named the best farmer in Guruve district for the 2009/2010 cropping season.

Chirimanyemba's husband, Lameck, said the family's adoption of conservation farming has bettered their social standing.

"People always have a better perception of you if they know you have food, than when you are starving. This type of farming has really helped us," said Lameck. Chirimanyemba's grandson, who had to drop out of school due to unpaid fees has resumed his education.

"My grandson has also gone back to school. Things are working for me now. In the 2008/2009 farming season, I got 35 bags. This time I am expecting not less than 50 bags. I have no doubt this year I will get my biggest harvest ever," said Chirimanyemba.

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At the mercy of the machete mob: The terrifying isolation and almost suicidal courage of Zimbabwe's white farmers

By Douglas Rogers
Last updated at 10:33 PM on 02nd April 2010

From their high vantage point in the hills, my mother and father had a grandstand view of the carnage that had been wreaked on Zimbabwe's white farmers.

'See that place down there?' said Dad, when I arrived on one of my infrequent visits home. He was pointing to a run-down farmhouse, just across the road.

'That was Frank Bekker's place - he was one of the first. One night, Frank and his wife were attacked in their house. He was cut in the head with an axe, but somehow fought his assailants off.

White farmers live in fear of the prospect of mob attacks

White farmers live in fear of the prospect of mob attacks

'He heard the leader shout at the others: "What's wrong with you - you can't kill one white person?"'

I looked down at the house again. You could tell as soon as you set eyes on it that something was wrong. Instead of the usual green fields, all I could see were a few listless crops on rough, unploughed ground. Dozens of mud huts had sprung up where maize and tobacco once grew.

It was alarmingly close to my parents' farm; you could practically throw a rock at it. And it was clear that if Mum and Dad didn't leave fast, they could soon be meeting a brutal, bloody, all-too-African end.

It was 2002. I'd left Zimbabwe nine years before and was living in London, but my parents, Rosalind and Lyn Rogers, were still at Drifters, the backpackers' lodge and game farm that they'd created after Dad retired from being a lawyer.

By then, almost half of the white farmers in their part of Eastern Zimbabwe had lost their homes to armed looters - yet Mum and Dad were still enjoying their usual games of bridge and golf, and showing no signs of packing up.

Two years before, I'd phoned home in a panic when news broke that the first white farmer - who lived only an hour's drive from their farm - had been savagely beaten by a mob and shot at point-blank range. When my mother finally answered, I blurted out: 'What's happening? Are you guys all right?'

'It's terrible,' she said. I pictured my parents barricaded in the house, a mob rattling their gates.

'Yes,' she explained, 'we've already lost four wickets.'

Targets: The author's parents Lyn and Ros Rogers at Drifters, 
their backpackers lodge and game farm in South Africa

Targets: The author's parents Lyn and Ros Rogers at Drifters, their backpackers lodge and game farm in South Africa

'Four what?' 'Four wickets, darling. Not going very well at all. It's 91 for four.'

They were watching a cricket match! I wasn't sure whether to be relieved or horrified.

'Jeez, Ma. Not the cricket. The farm. Have you any idea what's going on?'

There was a long pause. 'Oh, that,' my mother finally said, her voice fading through the static. 'Yes, well, it doesn't look very good, does it? I guess we're just going to have to wait and see.'

Even then, 'wait and see' didn't seem a wise option, but they clearly weren't going anywhere.

'Darling,' my mother said, 'don't be ridiculous. We are Zimbabweans. This is our land.'

And then I heard steel in her voice. 'Over my dead body will they take this place. Over my dead body.'

She had the stoic, breezy air of someone who'd lived through a lot and expected to live through this, too. After all, her ancestry in Africa went back to the 1820s - and Dad's family had been there for 350 years.

'We're Zimbabweans now, better get used to it,' my parents had told my sisters and me, when white rule ended in 1980. Three years later, they'd sent me to a government boys' boarding school which, by the time I graduated, was 80per cent black.

One day, we were fighting a race war; the next we were sitting in classes sharing notes on Jane Austen with the sons of black men our fathers had fought against.

But that was then. By the time of my 2002 visit, the farm invasions were in full swing, the economy was in freefall and eight more white farmers had been murdered. . .
My mother was in the kitchen when I arrived from London.

'Welcome to the frontlines,' she said with a wry chuckle. She was slender as a fence pole and I could feel the crenellated ridges of her spine as I held her close. My father's grey hair had turned almost white in the three years since I'd last seen him.

After a shower, I lay on the narrow bed I had slept in as a child and stared up at the ceiling as a column of ants moved inexorably toward a hornets' nest in the corner.

The author posing with his father Lyn, in Mozambique

The author posing with his father Lyn, in Mozambique

When my parents had bought the house and 729 acres, the land was too rugged for crops so Dad had decided to build a budget backpackers' lodge, along with 16 holiday chalets, a restaurant-bar and a game farm for zebra and antelope. Mum wasn' t convinced, but his mind was set.

'If we build it, they will come,' he told her, a line she found rather convincing until she discovered he'd stolen it from the film Field Of Dreams, which he had on video.

By the mid-Nineties, Drifters was attracting travellers from South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, America and Europe. Lonely Planet gave it a glowing 200-word review.

And now? The backpackers were long gone. The restaurant-bar was deserted. The chalet residents were eyeing the exits. Except for dwindling savings, my parents' only source of income was drying up.

'It's like holding tickets to an execution,' my mother said grimly. 'You're never sure who's next or when it's your turn, but you know it's going to happen - and soon.'

There was more bad news: the man who now owned their neighbour's farm was an important functionary in Zanu-PF - President Robert Mugabe's ruling party.

Worse still, he was the Political Commissar of the valley - a title given to high-ranking guerillas who'd fought in the war that ended white rule. The Commissar hadn't taken long to announce his presence. Mum was in the kitchen when two young black men appeared silently and suddenly on the patio. They stood there edgy, nervous, rubbing their hands.

'They could hardly speak English,' she told me, 'but they had a letter.'

It was a note from the new neighbour, requesting that they give his men a donation for Mugabe's birthday celebration. My mother read the note, then looked at his two men.

They were listless, infected with fatalism. One wore a Saddam Hussein T-shirt, the other the face of David Beckham.

She considered the thought of giving money to celebrate Mugabe's birthday. And then she exploded.

'No! No! I am not giving you any money for the president's party. Why don't you go and ask the president for money for his own ****ing party? After all, he has all the money in the country. Go away!'

The young men stared at her, blank-faced, open-mouthed. Then they trudged disconsolately away.

The Rogers were approached by men who said they were collecting 
money for President Robert Mugabe's birthday celebrations

The Rogers were approached by men who said they were collecting money for President Robert Mugabe's birthday celebrations

Two days later, the Commissar himself turned up. He was thickset, with a round, puffy face and dull, blank eyes. Over his frayed khaki shirt and trousers, he wore a grey Columbo- style raincoat, even though it was a hot day. He carried a brand-new leather briefcase.

'I'm here for a donation for the president's birthday party,' he announced in a slow, deep voice. 'I sent my men up here two days ago and for some reason you turned them away.'

Dad stared at him. He'd wondered how he'd react to the man living in his friend Frank's farmhouse - and now he knew instantly that he hated him with the passion of 1,000 burning suns.

But Dad also knew he had to play a clever game. This man had power and could make things very difficult. So he surprised even himself when he shook the Commissar's hand and said politely: 'A misunderstanding, I'm sure. My wife, she gets very stressed - the economic situation. You want a donation? How about some beer?'

The Commissar shrugged. 'Thank you, that will be fine. I will get my men to come and take it away.'

Saddam and Becks came to collect it that afternoon. Dad suppressed a chuckle: the beer - several cases of Castle lager he'd stored in an outhouse - was three years old and barely fit to drink.

A few nights later, my parents heard the drum beats of a party coming up the hill.

'Who knows,' said Dad with a laugh. 'If the beer's gone off, they might all get terribly ill and we'll never hear from them again.'

Despite the chaos around them, my parents had one thing to cling to that year: the elections. I knew they were praying that the opposition - the Movement for Democratic Change, headed by Morgan Tsvangirai - would win, yet I wasn't expecting my dad to announce he'd joined the Party.

Lyn Rogers pictured with some locals in the bar at Drifters during
 its hey-day

Lyn Rogers pictured with some locals in the bar at Drifters during its hey-day

I was stunned. More than 100 MDC members had been murdered in the past two years. This wasn't like joining the Labour Party in Britain: my father was making a target of himself and my mother.

Since going to university, I had come to see my parents as typical white landowners who worked hard but lived a life apart; a privileged minority behind the high walls of their sprawling homes and sports clubs. Yet here was my father, risking his home - and possibly his life.

By the time I returned to Zimbabwe the following year (in 2003), 100 more MDC activists had been murdered.

Mugabe had won the election, of course. I was more worried than ever about my parents.

In just one year, they'd aged a decade. My mother was so thin that I imagined a strong wind could blow her over. My dad had lost weight and grown a beard - he was starting to resemble the rugged men in a sepia-tinted photograph of his Afrikaner grandfather's commando unit in the Second Boer War.

Was the beard his own last stand, a sign of atavistic Boer resistance?

He looked at me as though I were an idiot. 'No,' he said. 'There's a shortage of razor blades.'

Dad had stopped clearing the land that ran down to the road.

'I want it like this,' he said, 'so that people can't see the house. These people drive down a road, spot a house they like and just take it.'

The best farms were being picked off by the 'chefs': ministers, generals, brigadiers, senior party officials.

For the first time in years, Dad hauled out his vintage 12-bore: he was prepared to go down fighting. Every evening, he loaded it and stood it against the dresser.

Meanwhile, the empty holiday chalets were being routinely burgled, with entire living-room suites and fridges dragged away through the bush at night.

Mum phoned the police about one robbery, but the officer in charge barely stirred.

'Madam,' he said, 'I have no car. Can you come and pick me up?'

'Then a few days later,' she told me, 'I found a stray goat in the garden, which must have belonged to one of the settlers.

'Anyway, I spoke to the same policeman. I swear, he drove around here in minutes. Of course, I refused to hand over the goat. He obviously wanted to eat it.'

That was my parents' life: one minute Orwellian nightmare, the next, Evelyn Waugh farce.

One afternoon, though, my mother told me something that made me realise how bad things really were. 'I'm very worried about your dad,' she said. 'I'm scared he's going to do something stupid.'

'Like what? Do you think he might kill someone?'

The family business went from a thriving enterprise to a shell of 
its former self

The family business went from a thriving enterprise to a shell of its former self

'He might,' she said. 'But I'm more worried that he's going to shoot himself. He goes up into the hills some nights and sits on a rock for hours with the gun.'

When I said goodbye in the last week of September 2003, Mum held me tight and I felt her racing heart pounding through her birdcage chest as she tried desperately not to cry.

From that moment on, I lived in dread of the phone call from Zimbabwe that I was sure would come: Your parents have lost the farm... They've gone down in a hail of bullets and buckshot.

As famine loomed, Mum and Dad were growing most of their own food in the flower-beds, and living in constant fear. There were now only six white farms left in their valley and 350 left in the country - from a high of 4,500.

Amazingly, though, the 16 two-bedroom holiday chalets my parents had built were suddenly showing signs of life: they were filling up with white farmers who'd lost their land. Mum and Dad were becoming low-budget bushveld versions of Oskar and Emilie Schindler.

The tenant at number six was old Piet de Klerk, who'd once scored a try against the All Blacks as captain of Rhodesia's rugby team. On top of that, he was a distant relative of the former South African leader, FW de Klerk.

The most recent arrival was Unita Herrer, a slightly-built widow of 64. 'You know what I did?' she said. 'I decided to give my cattle farm to the government. At that time, they were killing white farmers. So I decided: before they kill me, let me offer it to them.'

The Ministry of Lands cut a deal. In exchange for her 'gift', they'd allow her to harvest her final crop and pack her belongings unmolested.

They broke their word: Unita was attacked in her home by a truckload of militia and held captive for a day-and-a-half. By the time she arrived at Drifters, she was in a state of shock.

Along with her new neighbours, she was now the last of a lost white tribe of Zimbabweans with nowhere else to go. But there were black tenants, too, some of whom had become my parents' friends.

On another day, I was walking past chalet number four, when I saw a small, elderly, well-dressed man with tortoiseshell glasses sitting on the front veranda. He nodded as I walked past. Surely, I knew that face? Then it came to me, clear as a lightning bolt, all the way back from 1979.

In that year, the first black leader of Zimbabwe, seven months before Mugabe won power, was the Methodist bishop Abel Muzorewa. I'd presumed he was long dead - but Mum confirmed he was indeed the man on the veranda. So my parents had a relative of FW de Klerk in one chalet and a former prime minister of Zimbabwe in another.

It dawned on me that their farm had become a metaphor for the state of the nation.

You could see the fortunes of Zimbabwe unfolding in microcosm from their front lawn: the Commissar, who'd taken over their former neighbour Frank's farm across the road; the white farmers and their new black neighbours in the chalets; and my parents and a staff of three trying to survive in the middle of it all.

For now, though, my parents' chief worry was their new neighbour. One morning, they were on their way to town when they spotted him hitchhiking. Dad slowed to pull over. In a departure from his previous habit of silently seething, he now often tried to charm and probe those in authority.

The Commissar clambered into the back. 'Morning, Commissar,' said Dad cheerily. 'Where are you going this day?'

'I'm going to my town house,' said the Commissar, calmly. Dad almost crashed the car. 'Your town house?' he spluttered, his face going red. The Commissar had two houses! The farm he'd stolen from Dad's neighbour Frank he was using as his country estate, his dacha.

The relationship with the Commissar soured badly soon after that. After he allowed his men to hunt and kill one of my father's animals, an eland, my father reported him for hunting without a licence and he was fined for being found with 'bush meat'.

After that, of course he paid my father a visit. Confronting-Dad on the back patio one morning, he said in a low, menacing tone: 'I expected you to be a good neighbour. But now you have reported me for this beast. In my culture the best meat is due to the chief. I do not expect to be fined for it.'

My father started shaking. His face went purple and his fist slammed into the refrigerator.

'You expected me to be a good neighbour? I am a good neighbour! I give you lifts to your town house. Your people hunt my animals. And now you come and tell me to be a good neighbour?'

He wanted to say: 'That is not even your house. You stole that house.' But my mother grabbed his arm and ushered him indoors.

Two months later, my parents discovered they no longer owned their own farm.

The Commissar, who'd become strangely subdued, even polite, appeared to have nothing to do with this. Neither was there a mob of chanting war veterans rattling at my parents' gates.

Dad had gone to see an estate agent about selling the backpackers' lodge. 'Are you sure you own the land?' said the estate agent. Dad laughed. 'I bought it. I've lived there for 16 years.'

The estate agent leaned forward and spoke in a low, serious tone, like a doctor about to inform a patient of a terminal illness. 'I'm not sure how to tell you this, Mr Rogers, but in August 2005 the government passed an amendment cancelling the title deeds on all existing farms.'

My father's heart did a somersault and landed near his feet.

The government passed new land laws all the time and never informed the people affected by them.

And sure enough, the government copy of his title deed had a large stamp planted smack in the centre, which read: 'In terms of Section 168 (4) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, this Property now vests in the President of Zimbabwe.'

It was dated November 2005. The government had owned my parents' farm for eight months already.

My father wanted to vomit. He and Mum had now joined the legions of dispossessed waiting for a new black owner to claim their property.

The Ministry of Lands had a list of all farms 'vested in the president'. All an applicant had to do was prove he was a supporter of Zanu-PF and claim he could run a farm.

'It's like winning the lottery, except you don't even have to buy a ticket,' Dad said. He pictured what would happen. The Ministry of Lands official would scroll down the list with his forefinger.

'What about this one?' the official would say, as if offering ice-cream. 'Seven-hundred-and-fifty acres. On some hills near Mutare. Not good farmland. Apparently lots of buildings. Chalets. A tourist lodge with a bar.'

'Like a hotel? Excellent. I will take that.'

Dad pictured some city twerp in a slick suit, driving through his front gate in a BMW and announcing he was the new owner. He suddenly wished he was back to worrying about the Commissar. At least there he knew what he was dealing with.

But to my surprise, my parents didn't sink into depression. Nor were they eaten up with rage. In fact, over the next two years, they seemed to become reinvigorated.

Something remarkable had happened: the very predicament they'd found themselves in, the chaos engulfing them, had given them a purpose.

Every day for the past eight years, they'd woken up to plot and plan their survival; yet, instead of being crushed, they'd found a rare energy, passion and lust for life.

For the first time, I allowed myself to wonder: Might they get through this after all? Of course, I didn't know then that the danger was about to get closer. Much closer.

. EXTRACTED from The Last Resort: A Zimbabwe Memoir by Douglas Rogers, published by Short Books at 9.99, Douglas Rogers 2010. To order a copy (p&p free), call 0845 155 0720.

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To learn or to teach?

Dear Family and Friends,

It has now been two years since the MDC won elections and were voted
into power in Zimbabwe. There's not a lot to show for two years
because every day and every week there's been another delay, excuse
and stalling tactic to prevent real power being handed over to the
MDC. To say that the MDC is in office but not in power is the most
accurate description of our situation two years after elections.

Because there wasn't a referendum to ask the people of Zimbabwe if
they wanted a Government of National Unity, we've had no choice but
to put up with it. For two years we've been patient and lived from
hand to mouth while the winners and losers of the election have
squabbled over the basics. South Africa, called all manner of things
from midwife to mediator, point man to facilitator, have been
overseeing the squabbling.

This week South Africa's ANC youth leader, Julius Malema arrived in
the country. He's been in the spotlight for some weeks for stirring
up racial tensions in his own country and singing a revolutionary
song translated as "shoot the Boer." The song has now been declared
hate speech and a gagging order has been issued, so the arrival of Mr
Malema in our very fragile and tense Zimbabwe, is cause for concern.

The usual fanfare awaited Mr Malema at Harare airport: people wearing
Zanu PF clothes, their chests, backs and other places sporting
pictures of Mr Mugabe. "Welcome to the Promised Land," one banner
being carried by running, frenzied Zanu PF supporters read.
Surrounded by bodyguards it wasn't long before Mr Malema made it
quite clear that he wasn't playing the ANC impartiality game. He
didn't mention young people in general in Zimbabwe but instead said
he'd come to see Zanu PF youths and to talk to them about
empowerment. Malema said he was going to visit farms and mines in

To learn, or to teach - it remains to be seen.

We have become very familiar with all manner of hate speech this last
decade so rather than take in anymore, we look to nature to give us a
bit of peace this Easter 2010. Summer is coming to an end and the
grass is tall and golden and littered with pink and white Cosmos
flowers along many of our roads. In the vleis the red hot pokers are
in full bloom and in our gardens we compete with Mousebirds and
Bulbuls to get to the guava trees first! The temptation to eat guavas
straight off the trees is just too hard to resist; rain fed and sun
ripened they are very more-ish, every mouthful watched by Mousebirds
who sit nearby, scolding and fidgeting, impatient for you to go away.

Days end with golden sunsets, the call of a Heuglin Robin or a
nightjar and then the evening star, clear and bright in the twilight.
There's no place for hate speech here. Until next week, thanks for
reading, love cathy. � Copyright cathy buckle.

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