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Mugabe buys support of top army officers as discontent swells in ranks

The Sunday Times, UK April 09, 2006

            Christina Lamb

            THE Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe has placed army and
intelligence officers in control of key state institutions in an attempt to
retain military support and quell discontent amid widespread hunger and
opposition threats of mass mobilisation.
            The attorney-general, chief executive of the Grain Marketing
Board (the national food monopoly), and the head of the country's electoral
commission are all now serving or retired officers of the Zimbabwe Defence
Forces (ZDF), as are several members of the newly created Senate.

            Last week Mugabe put Constantine Chiwenga, the ZDF chief, in
charge of tax collection after reports of corruption at the Zimbabwe Revenue
Authority. The Financial Gazette, one of the last independent newspapers,
was taken over by the Central Intelligence Organisation.

            While Mugabe has been appeasing those at the top by handing out
positions and seizing white farms, there are growing indications of unrest
in the ranks. So many junior officers have been leaving because of poor pay
and lack of food that last month the government issued a ban on quitting
before the completion of 10 years' service.

            The discontent is symptomatic of that of most Zimbabweans
struggling to find just one meal a day. The country's economy has shrunk
more than any other in the past five years and inflation is now 1,150%.
World Health Organisation statistics released on Friday showed life
expectancy to be shorter than anywhere else: 34 years for women and 37 for

            Last week Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC), began a nationwide tour to drum up support for
his planned "winter of discontent".

            The government promptly warned opponents against attempts to
unseat it and threatened to "eliminate them physically", but Tsvangirai, who
has survived two assassination attempts, remained defiant. "This is a
typical defence mechanism from a government that knows they don't have an
answer to the people's plight but are determined to keep power for power's
sake," he said.

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Trading places

The Sunday Times, UK April 09, 2006

            They seemed a model for the new Zimbabwe, the white farmer and
his loyal black nanny. Then the family's beloved Aqui led the rebels who
took over the farm. Christina Lamb found out why

            It was winter in Zimbabwe and at the height of the farm
invasions when I first met Nigel and Claire Hough on their large ostrich
farm about an hour from Harare. We sat on the terrace outside their
farmhouse, chatting and taking tea and madeira cake, trying to ignore the
wood smoke rising from the huts of the war veterans at the end of the lawn.
            It was August 2002. The war vets had been living at the bottom
of the garden for months. Every night the Hough (pronounced Huff) family
tossed and turned to drumming and chanting. Every morning Nigel would find
the carcasses of slaughtered cattle.

            Their property, Kendor, was the only white farm left in the
Wenimbi valley in the tobacco-growing district of Marondera. The first
murder of a white farmer had happened only a few miles away in April 2000.
Since then many farmers had been badly beaten; some had been hacked to
death. Most had been either kicked off or fled.

            The Houghs had thought about leaving. But the 1,400-acre farm
and eight-bedroom house was their dream. They had worked hard and sunk all
their money into it.

            From the highest point in the area they could see 30 miles in
all directions over a canopy of msasa trees and stunning granite rocks. They
loved that spot and had christened their four children there, including the
most recent, little blonde Megan.

            They could not imagine starting all over again. Other white
farmers who had moved abroad to England or Australia had ended up driving
minicabs and living in poky council flats. Besides, the Houghs employed 300
people as well as running an orphanage for children whose parents had died
in the Aids pandemic.

            Nigel and Claire encouraged me to talk to Aqui (pronounced
Ack-we), their much-loved maid and nanny. An exceptionally bright woman with
a great big laugh, she was refreshingly candid as well as stunning in her
red and white polka-dot uniform and green headscarf.

            To the Houghs and their four young children, Aqui, short for
Aquinata, was almost part of the family. Nigel had paid for the schooling of
her children, and she had a wonderful warm way about her that his own
children loved. They talked and joked together in a manner that gave me hope
for the future of Zimbabwe.

            Their relationship seemed different from any other I had seen
between white farmers and black servants there - rather uplifting at a time
when Robert Mugabe's government was promoting racist hate-speak in the state

            I wrote an article describing Nigel as "a model white farmer",
and I pointed out that to take his farm would expose the fact that the
Zimbabwean government was clearly not interested in helping its people.

            Within days, to my horror, the farm was seized. Shortly
afterwards I got a phone call from Nigel. He had come to London to look at
moving his family here after all, as they were eligible for British

            We met in a coffee bar opposite Highbury and Islington Tube
station. It was a miserable day, cold rain pinging on the windows.

            As we warmed our icy hands on the steaming mugs, he said: "I
have to tell you something bad. It was Aqui, you know."

            I looked at him in confusion. "What do you mean?" "Aqui. It was
Aqui who took my farm."

            I stared at him, stunned. They had seemed to have such a good
relationship. "I can't believe it," I said.

            "You know it's almost the worst thing," he replied, "worse than
losing the farm. She was spitting at me, yelling at me, 'Get out or we'll
kill you! Whites have no place in this country!' I just keep seeing her face
twisted with all that hatred."

            Nigel shook his head as if trying to remove the memory. All the
old spirit seemed to have gone out of him. He looked wrong in London, his
loping walk, his shoulders hunched under the grey sky.

            "I can't move here, you know," he said as he battled to get his
ticket into the slot at the Tube station barrier. "There's just too many
people and no sun or space."

            Why had Aqui done this to him? Why had she thrown him out and
traded places with him? It took a long time to track down the answer. But I
got to know both Aqui and Nigel well over the next couple of years, and I
started to understand their story.

            Intriguingly, Aqui and the Houghs are now back together again.
So what really happened?

            ALTHOUGH they were born only six months apart in 1962, the
childhoods of Aqui and Nigel could not have been more different.

            Aqui lived among the cactus trees in one of the native reserves,
communal lands into which blacks had been shunted when the whites came in
the 1890s. It was a desolate place of round, mud-and-pole huts with thatched

            She was the eldest of five children. There had been eight but
two brothers and a sister died as infants. A Catholic, Aqui was proud that
her parents were clever and, unlike most of the villagers, did not believe
in ghosts or tokoloshes that could possess you, poison your food, or bewitch
your enemies.

            One day she came home from school to hear agonised wailing. It
was a neighbour whose husband, Lovemore, worked as night watchman on a
tobacco farm. His duty was to keep the fires burning as the tobacco dried,
but he was always falling asleep at his post.

            Usually the farmer would cuff him awake. But this time, finding
him snoozing yet again, the angry baas (boss) had thrown Lovemore on the
fire and left him to burn to death. This gave Aqui something new to think

            "Whites didn't often venture into native reserves," she told me.
"The only white people I had ever seen were Father Walter, the Irish
missionary at the church, and the white policeman.

            "It was very important in those days for a white person to talk
to you, you would be so happy, but most of them didn't. When they did, they
spoke loudly, as if we were many miles away.

            "All I knew was that our skins were different and that being
white somehow gave you a special power and my grandfather didn't like them.
He was very cheeky and refused to pay tax on his cattle, and when the black
policemen came on a motorbike to collect it he told them off for doing the
dirty work of whites and took out his sjambok to chase them away."

            Although Aqui knew that the nuns at school said it was wrong to
hate, they also said they were all God's creatures. She didn't understand
why having a white skin should make some people different. She thought about
Lovemore toasting on the fire and how his skin would have crackled and burnt
like mealie cobs, and she began to start hating whites.

            Nigel, the son of a prosperous Englishman who had settled in
Rhodesia after serving as a pilot in the second world war, grew up by
contrast on a large farm with tennis courts, weekly parties and twice-yearly
trips to the Indian Ocean.

            White boys like Nigel thought it not at all unreasonable that
blacks should be barred from white hospitals, schools, bars, swimming pools,
restaurants and shops or from voting.

            Like most farm children he was sent away to boarding school at
an early age. He told me how they used to throw burning hot pennies - heated
with a cigarette lighter - to black children from the school train, laughing
uproariously at the agonised faces.

            To boys like him, blacks were "munts" who "smelt and stole
things . . . our parents always said the black man couldn't be trusted. We
knew that blacks were way behind in civilisation".

            Nigel added: "Growing up in Rhodesia it was so easy to be drawn
into generalisations. When you have all these incidents at the farm, endless
theft and betrayals by servants, you have one or two ways of going. You can
either rationalise and say 'Well, that would happen with any race' or say
'No, they're just an inferior breed and what do you expect?' "

            Aqui would always remember the year that the Rhodesian bush war
came to her village. Aged 12, she had been raped by the headmaster at
school, and, hiding in some rocks afterwards, too ashamed to tell anyone,
she saw clouds of red dust as a column of green-painted military vehicles
appeared. Guns glinted in the sun. Soldiers went through the village warning
everyone to beware of terrorists.

            At first, nobody knew what the soldiers meant. They soon found
out. Caught in what became one of Africa's most brutal civil wars, between
Ian Smith's white government and the "comrades" of the black liberation
movements, the villagers had little choice but to aid whichever soldiers
turned up.

            "We girls would go into the bush and carry pots of food and tea
to the comrades but they became more and more demanding. They didn't just
want sadza (maize porridge) with vegetables, they wanted meat. My parents
gave the freedom fighters our goats and roosters and blankets and clothes.
If there was food in the huts they would take it. Cows and goats

            "They would just say 'I want that' and take anything, even my
two dresses for their girlfriends. When there was no more meat left in the
village, they made our people go to farms to steal cattle.

            "Then Smith's soldiers would come and harass or whip you,
accusing us of looking after bush fighters. They came in our huts and if you
had meat you were in for it, even if it was from your own beasts. They could
kill you for that. 'Put your head down,' they would say, then they would put
the head of a cow on top and squash and squash until the person was dead."

            For as long as Aqui could remember, she had heard the village
elders explain that their blood and sweat - and the bones of their dead -
were in the land and they must get it back.

            "We thought it was right because of all this racism we had grown
up with, and we knew that the land should be ours. I felt white people were
very bad. If one fish is rotten, so is the whole pond."

            At 14 she was sent to live with relatives in Marondera, where
she tried to join a group leaving for Mozambique to train to fight. Banned
from going by her uncle, she trained instead as a political mobiliser for
Zanu, Mugabe's movement.

            "This meant I would go to youth centres, football matches,
anywhere there would be young people who I could recruit to fight. Some
people here in town didn't know what it was all about. I was just a young
girl but I could try to influence my friends and other young people.

            "Smith's regime was very racist and there were many things
pulling us apart and I really wanted to help so we could get out of it and
have our own very nice government. We used to sing war songs to encourage
others to join and tell people to be brave."

            For Nigel at 14, life had also become exciting. "The war was all
we talked about and I desperately envied the older boys who became
 soldiers." He could not wait until he was 18 and could be out in the bush
like them, head shaved, face smeared with camouflage cream. "I really wanted
to get involved and I would have pulled the trigger on a black as quickly as

            Gradually, however, while remaining against black rule, Nigel
became disillusioned. "War seemed to be an excuse for people doing terrible
things and getting away with it."

            He was still too young to fight when negotiations in London
brought an end to the war. On April 17, 1980, Prince Charles took the royal
family's last farewell salute on the African continent and Zimbabwe was
born. To 17-year-old Aqui, it seemed the best day of her life.

            "I thought I would burst with happiness. Finally we had our own
country . . . We would be in charge now." Mugabe, who became prime minister,
was her hero.

            Switching on the common room television, expecting to see
Morecambe and Wise, his favourite show, Nigel and some sixth-formers found
themselves watch Mugabe's first broadcast to the nation. They sniggered but
fell silent in surprise at his words.

            "I urge you, whether you are black or white, to join me in a new
pledge to forget our grim past, forgive others and forget, join hands in a
new amity and together as Zimbabweans trample upon racism," Mugabe said.

            Nigel was taken aback. "I had been feeling really bleak about
the future. I remember listening and thinking, 'Jeez, maybe we've missed
everything, maybe he really is a good bloke'."

            NEITHER Aqui nor Nigel could have predicted the extraordinary
events that would occur over the next 20 years.

            Aqui married, had children, worked as a maid for a kind and
generous white couple and split from her increasingly violent and unfaithful
husband. Despite the evidence that Mugabe had become a tyrant and was
ruining Zimbabwe, she remained faithful to her hero. "The problem was Mugabe
was always alone with people doing bad things behind his back."

            Nigel - after a picaresque few years that saw him working as a
bush pilot, playing professional cricket in Scotland, selling ostriches in
China, making a small fortune as a businessman and going bankrupt when the
Zimbabwe economy crashed - finally became an active Christian, fell in love
with Claire, bought Kendor Farm for $350,000 and settled down to raise a

            Their parallel lives at last became intertwined in 2000 when
Zimbabwe was first gripped by farm invasions.

            Aqui, living in a tiny shack in a black district of Marondera,
initially welcomed the invasions. She thought about her people in her
village with their bare shelves and about her children, growing up with no
signs of the jobs as accountants, nurses or top-flight secretaries that she
had imagined.

            "It was hard to feel sorry for those white farmers. They had
air-conditioners and cars and refrigerators, ate food from packets, and went
shopping in South Africa and on holiday in Mozambique. We had grown up
living on leaves and locusts and walking an hour each way to fetch water and
firewood. And some of them had treated our people very bad."

            Aqui was in despair when her kind employers sold up and left for
New Zealand, but she found a new job with the Houghs.

            She soon realised that they, too, were "good people". Nigel
asked her about her life and what she thought about things, even discussing
her doubts about the Old Testament. She knew he was involved in the Movement
for Democratic Change, the new opposition party, and that he went out at
night putting up political stickers. She knew Claire was scared about this
and saw the way she hugged her children close each time more news came that
another farm nearby had been invaded by men with pangas and names like
Comrade Slit-eyes or Comrade Double-trouble.

            On Sunday, April 16, 2000, the Houghs came home from church in
tears. The vets had murdered David Stevens, a neighbour and friend.
Television footage showed the blackened remains of his farm. Other farmers
were fleeing; 50 families left Marondera that day.

            As Claire watched the reports and listened to her children
playing happily outside with Aqui, she felt a cold dread creep over her. "I
suddenly felt very vulnerable. If it came to it, how would we know who to
trust? I wanted to leave."

            Aqui's attitude to the farm invasions was conflicted.

            "I agreed with the fact that the land should be shared,
particularly as there were those whites who were greedy and had vast farms
or three or four farms they weren't even using. But because I worked on a
farm I knew that to be an owner you had to be very experienced and have lots
of capital. I didn't agree with the idea that people with nothing could come
in and just take over."

            She added: "Of course I wished I had a house like the Houghs
instead of (my) small shack, all squashed up like a nest . . . (but)
jealousy doesn't work. It makes you destroy people."

            Aqui saw that it was not the poor landless blacks who were being
given the invaded farms. Sinister men appeared in leather coats and bush
hats, Zanu party bigwigs. Nobody would complain, for fear stalked the air.
Torture, beatings and disappearances once again became part of life, as they
had been during the liberation war.

            By May 2002, the Wenimbi valley had turned into a battlefield
with roadblocks everywhere manned by youths in red bandannas and Mugabe
T-shirts, all high on mbanje (cannabis).

            Every evening Nigel checked all the doors and windows in the
house, but he knew that if the war vets wanted to get in with their axes,
pangas and guns, no amount of locks or burglar bars would stop them. The
house he and Claire loved so much was starting to feel like a prison.

            "The endless stream of anti-white propaganda whenever you turned
on the radio was really getting to us. Everyone was snapping at each other
and the children had grown clingy, biting at their sleeves and reluctant to
go to school or nursery in case their parents were not there when they came

            When depressed, Nigel would go to the lookout point above the
msasa trees. There he would feel close to God. And then there was Aqui. "She
kept us sane. Within a few months of employing her she had already become
the heart of the family and within a couple of years we couldn't imagine
life without her. I liked the fact she shared my faith and always had a big
smile on her face. The kids adored her. She seemed to have endless patience.
When the children had chicken pox, she would sit for hours wiping their
fevered brows, and when Christian (his son) put his foot through some rotten
wood, she spent hours picking all the chagga worms out of his feet . . . I
guess what surprised me most was how bright she was. You never had to
explain things twice to her."

            She told Nigel about her experiences during the war and of being
spat at by Rhodesian soldiers. "I felt guilty. It could have been me doing

            He remembered stories told by some of his friends in the army of
the terrible things they had done to the village girls, such as sticking hot
pokers up their vaginas, and wondered if more had happened to her than she
was saying.

            He liked to talk to her about the differences between blacks and
whites, and he was fascinated by her answers.

            "She insisted to me that whites don't get jealous in the same
way as blacks. That was one of the reasons when the black guys seized the
farms they always stripped the houses, otherwise someone would get jealous
and come and take it from them."

            He was so intrigued by his conversations with Aqui that he set
up a mixed-race discussion group to try to promote understanding.

            "It was quite funny. All the white guys said there is no
industry among the blacks, they are lazy. Then all the blacks said the
whites are not industrious. I was incredulous. I said, 'How can you say
that? We create all the business in this country, run the mines, grow the
food.' They said, 'Yes, that's what you do, you create things, but you don't
actually work, you just sit and watch and we do all the work'."

            NIGEL worried about what would happen to Aqui and his staff and
their families if the farm were taken over. At the end of July 2002, the day
came at last.

            A woman called Netsai arrived at the farm gate with a group of
eight war vets. "I want to move into my house today," she demanded, pulling
out a typed piece of paper stating that Kendor was now hers. "This is my
farm. These are my ostriches. And this is my house."

            Nigel managed to get rid of them, but a week later he was
visiting Harare when his farm manager telephoned to say that Netsai had come
back with a much larger group. Aqui had apparently let them in the gate to
shelter from the rain.

            Nigel's first concern was for his family. The two elder
children, Jess and Emma, were at school, and Claire was taking Christian to
nursery. Only baby Megan had been at home; but Aqui had handed her to a
visiting neighbour to take to safety. Thank God for Aqui, thought Nigel, not
for the first time.

            He raced home with an old friend, Pete Moore, a former member of
the Rhodesian SAS. By the time they reached Kendor, the mob had started a
fire in the driveway. "Hondo, hondo," they chanted, Shona for war. Nigel
telephoned the police but they refused to involve themselves in "domestic
matters". The crowd surrounded him, nostrils flaring as they scented blood.
"This is not Rhodesia any more!" shouted one man.

            Nigel and Pete managed to get into the house, and the mob went
quiet. "They went off and got all these guys, plied them with beer and
mbanje so they were rabid, then came back and started doing all their song
and dance, banging a large drum, waving sticks and shouting 'Hondo'. By that
time there were more than 50 of them."

            That's when he saw Aqui. "To my horror I realised that Aqui had
joined the group and seemed to be its leader. I couldn't believe it. Not
Aqui. I don't think I had ever felt so betrayed."

            As darkness fell, the group swelled to more than 100 and the
drumming became more persistent. Pete asked to see his guns.

            Reluctantly Nigel unlocked his gun cabinet. He remembered his
school lessons about Rhodesian heroes killed a century ago as they sang the
national anthem. "I didn't want to die like a hero. I didn't want to die."

            The war vets were singing and dancing again, rattling the
windows. Nigel could see Aqui in the thick of it, shouting, "Blacks in!
Whites out!" and "Down with whites!" "To me it looked like she was leading
the lot. I said, 'I don't want to ever talk to her again. I've trusted her
as a member of the family and can't believe she is doing this'."

            He thought about all they had done for her, the medical
insurance for her asthma, the school fees for her children, the uniforms,
even sending her second daughter, Valerie, on a secretarial course. They had
just paid for Aqui to have some cordon bleu cookery lessons.

            "It was not just the money but the utter sense of betrayal. You
have these people as part of your life, they are exposed to all your private
stuff, you trust your children to them, then that day you suddenly see her
transformed into this rabid character leading the pack of war vets shouting
'Get out, whites!' and 'Death to whites!'

            "I wanted to kill her."

            © Christina Lamb 2006

            Extracted from House of Stone by Christina Lamb to be published
by HarperCollins on April 18 at £18.99. Copies can be ordered for £17.19
including postage from The Sunday Times BooksFirst on 0870 165 8585

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Mass strikes loom as Zimbabwe's economy worsens

Yahoo News

2 hours, 1 minute ago

HARARE (AFP) - The possibility of mass strikes loom on the horizon for
Zimbabwe's embattled economy as workers demand higher wages to cushion them
against soaring living costs because of hyper-inflation and shortages of
foreign currencies.

Wage talks opened two weeks ago and were expected to continue until the end
of the month in Zimbabwe, where large-scale labour action could become a
reality for the first time in eight years, according to unionists.
Zimbabwe's inflation reached an all-time high of 913.6 percent on Friday
with no end in sight for price hikes, analysts added, bringing more hardship
to the southern African country.

"Although there have not been many strikes for some time now, industrial
actions are most likely to happen this year," union spokesman Collin Gwiyo
told AFP on Thursday.

"The salaries that most workers get are an embarrassment. By the time we get
to August there will be a series of wage and salary deadlocks," said Gwiyo,
acting secretary general of the major Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions

Independent economic analyst Best Doroh added: "It's obvious that the
potential for deadlock between employers and employees is quite high."

"The purchasing power of wages for the factory worker even those for civil
servants have been severely eroded," Doroh told AFP.

Zimbabwe's annual inflation rate rose from 613.2 percent in January to the
record high Friday, blamed partly by central bank governor Gideon Gono on
the printing of money to service debt to the

International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Gono revealed in February that the central bank resorted to printing 21
trillion Zimbabwean dollars (211 million US dollars) to buy foreign currency
to clear the country's arrears with the IMF.

Zimbabwe last month paid nine million US dollars to the IMF to avert
expulsion from the global lender over the long-overdue arrears.

Analysts however said Zimbabwe's galloping inflation was the sign of a
failed economy, with economist David Mupamhadzi saying "we are now feeling
those effects of printing the money."

The National Employment Councils Union said in its latest figures that farm
workers earned a meagre 1.3 million Zimbabwean dollars (13 US dollars, 10
euros) a month, mine workers got 6.5 million Zimbabwean dollars, while
school teachers got 8.5 million Zimbabwean dollars.

The average room rental price in the high density areas of the capital
Harare topped at between 1.5 and two million Zimbabwean dollars, while
Zimbabwe's highest currency denomination, a 50,000 bearer cheque introduced
in February, is not enough to buy a loaf of bread.

Gwiyo said the average worker needed 25-30 million dollars a month to make
ends meet.

He said the southern African country's workforce have for years refrained
from taking to the streets in numbers fearing reprisals under Harare's tough
security laws which forbid strikes and marches without police clearance.

Unionists also feared that mass action would be construed as political as
the leader of one faction of Zimbabwe's divided opposition is Morgan
Tsvangirai, a former ZCTU secretary general who led mass strikes in 1998.

But employees said their hands were tied should strikes go ahead.

"Employers are in the same predicament as their workers," said Employers
Confederation of Zimbabwe president Mike Bimba.

"We have not had many strikes over the years because of our cordial
relationship with workers... and I hope it will continue," he told AFP.

"Everybody knows that the economic situation is to blame for these problems
both employers and employees are facing."

Economist Erich Block said although wage talks would see a number of
deadlocks, he believed that strikes were unlikely.

"Both employers and employees are facing the same difficulty but I doubt
that we will have widespread strikes. Everyone wants to protect the little
that they have," he said.

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South Africa to bring 'dogs of war' to heel . but let nationals join al-Qaeda

Sunday Herald, Scotland

From Fred Bridgland in Johannesburg

A startling fact is emerging from the battlefields of Iraq. According to
South African anti-war activists, one in five coalition soldiers are
With estimates of more than 30,000 private "security experts" operating
along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, mercenary battalions now comprise the
second largest force in Iraq. There are 8000 British soldiers in Iraq and
15,000 other coalition troops besides the American force of more than

Iraq's huge oil reserves and the as yet uncontained resistance have made it
a mecca for mercenaries. Big American corporations such as Halliburton and
Bechtel hire private armies to protect their assets, paying "dogs of war"
more than $1000 a day to put their lives on the line.

Some 5000 to 10,000 of the hired guns in Iraq are South Africans. Most have
been recruited as bodyguards and drivers, but several hundred are alleged to
have fought alongside Americans, British and other coalition troops in
various hotspots.

So alarmed is the South African government at the number of personnel
quitting special units - such as the South African police service's elite
task force, which protects President Thabo Mbeki and top government
ministers, and the South African army - to join security companies in Iraq
that an anti-mercenary law has been introduced.

Under the sweeping new legislation, which has been before parliament for six
months but which has yet to be enacted, the thousands doing security work in
Iraq - as well as 700 South Africans serving in Britain's armed forces -
could be arrested for mercenary activities.

The law - The Prohibition of Mercenary Activity and Prohibition and
Regulation of Certain Activities in an Area of Armed Conflict - is so broad
that even a non-South African security company executive who does not employ
South Africans could be arrested if he or she sets foot in South Africa,
according to Johannesburg lawyer Peter Leon.

Leon, representing the British Association of Private Security Companies,
and other critics have pointed to a bizarre anomaly in the draft legislation
that would make it perfectly legal for a South African to join
al-Qaeda-backed insurgents in Iraq while making it a criminal offence to
provide protection for charities giving humanitarian assistance to Iraqi

Leon, who also represents Erinys International, a British security firm
employing several hundred South Africans in Iraq, said the law specifically
excludes from prosecution any South African supporting "a struggle waged by
peoples for their right to national liberation, self-determination,
independence against colonialism, or resistance against occupation".

This throws up all manner of anomalies. For example, a former African
National Congress (ANC) guerrilla could not join the army of the ANC
government's close ally, Angola, in the fight against the insurgency by
rebels of the Front for the Liberation of the [Angolan] Cabinda Enclave
(FLEC). But the former guerrilla could join FLEC and be within South African

The new legislation, which hugely strengthens the previous 1999 law, the
Foreign Military Assistance Act, is driven as much by politics as by
security. The ANC government, which came to power in 1994 after decades of
apartheid rule, fought alongside Angola's former Marxist Army, in Angola,
against such crack apartheid-era forces as the Buffalo Battalion, the
Reconnaissance Commandos and the Parachute Brigade.

It is from such units that many current fighters serving abroad are
recruited. Ironically, however, many were subsequently recruited by the
Angolan government to hunt down and kill, in co-operation with Israeli
special forces, the rebel leader Jonas Savimbi. And Britain's armed forces
welcomed South Africans from the mercenary company Executive Outcomes, who
with just a few hundred men and a few helicopters, decisively defeated the
repugnant Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels in Sierra Leone.

The ANC began drafting the new legislation following the failure of the 2004
coup attempt, launched from South Africa by former Scots Guards and SAS
officer Simon Mann, against Equatorial Guinea's president Teodoro Obiang
Nguema Mbasogo, a classically stereotypical African dictator. Mann recruited
70 mercenaries in South Africa. But South Africa's intelligence minister
Ronnie Kasrils tipped off the Zimbabwe government that the mercenary flight
intended stopping off in Harare, Zimbabwe's capital, to pick up arms. All
the mercenaries were jailed, and Mann continues to serve a sentence in
Harare's notorious Chikurubi prison. Sir Mark Thatcher, son of former
British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, lived alongside Mann in Cape Town
and was fined £265,000 and given a four-year suspended jail sentence for his
part in planning the coup.

The ANC government set out to make an example of Mann, Thatcher and their
men. "We don't like the idea of South Africa becoming a cesspool of
mercenaries," said foreign minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

Peter Leon warned, however, that: "The legislation is unworkable."

South Africa's history as a mercenary seedbed dates back to the 1960s when
its men fought in the Belgian Congo under Colonel "Mad" Mike Hoare. And on a
continent still plagued by wars and chaos, and where laws are observed more
in the breach than observance, it is doubtful whether even the most
draconian or high-minded legislation will muffle the call "Cry havoc and let
slip the dogs of war".

09 April 2006

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CFU amends constitution in support of land reform

Sunday News, Zimbabwe

Harare Bureau

HARARE - In an about-turn, the Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) has thrown
its weight behind the land reform programme and is amending its constitution
to rid the organisation of members who are antagonising Government policies
on agriculture.
CFU president Mr Doug Taylor-Freeme and his deputy, Mr Trevor Gifford, met
the Minister of State for National Security, Lands, Land Reform and
Resettlement, Cde Didymus Mutasa and the Minister of Agriculture, Dr Joseph
Made, last Thursday and spelt out the organisation's new position on the
land reform programme.
During the meeting, Mr Taylor-Freeme reportedly said his leadership felt
that it was high time the CFU worked with the Government in reviving the
economy through the agricultural sector.
He said gone were the days when the CFU was viewed as an opponent of the
land reform programme, adding that the perception had been created by the
previous leadership.
This policy shift by the white farmers' body comes after years of fierce
opposition to land reforms spearheaded by the union's previous leadership
with the more radical elements of the group breaking away to form a rabidly
anti-Government organisation known as Justice for Agriculture.
So heavily opposed was the CFU to land reforms that Dr Made at one point
described the organisation as an irrelevant body.
But this position is set to change.
"We are saying we are prepared to work with the Government in anything that
has got to do with reviving our economy through agriculture. We are a young
generation of white farmers who want to see our economy back on track
through agriculture.
"We have the expertise and skills and we are prepared to assist new farmers,''
said Mr Taylor-Freeme in an interview after the meeting.
He said CFU was a business entity whose objectives were mainly centred on
business and not politics.
The organisation was prepared to assist in re-opening international markets
for agricultural products that had been closed soon after the Government
embarked on the land reform programme.
Mr Taylor-Freeme said although the CFU has previously been associated with
the opposition MDC, that perception is wrong.
"We are not in politics at all. We want to see our economy being a vibrant
one through agriculture. We are capable of doing that,'' he said.
He said that once the two parties worked together, the building of
confidence and trust would be achieved, thereby attracting foreign
Mr Taylor-Freeme said the CFU realises that there is need for farmers and
Government to complement each other to develop a united approach and have a
common vision on national economic recovery and growth.
"We can do skills transfer in trying to bring the industry together. We also
have linkages in marketing and production which we can use to fully revive
our economy,'' he said.
He said the union's leadership would take stern measures against those
members of the organisation that were antagonising the efforts being made by
both parties in reviving the economy.
"We encourage our members to be helpful to new farmers and accept that the
land reform programme is a necessary exercise. The redistribution of land
was necessary and we must live as Zimbabweans,'' he said.
The organisation had already submitted more than 200 application forms for
land allocation and were hoping to get a favourable response from the
Welcoming CFU's move, Cde Mutasa said Government was prepared to work with
anyone interested in the development of the agricultural sector as long as
it was within the context of ensuring success for the exercise.
Cde Mutasa said it was pleasing to note that the CFU's young leadership had
realised that the way forward was to work with the Government instead of
being antagonistic.
The "diehard Rhodesians" who were in the previous leadership had created
that perception which the young leadership of the union now wants to
"We welcome that move as the new leadership wants to work with us. The
environment is now showing that a lot of people had wrong perceptions about
Zimbabwe's land reform programme.
"Zimbabwe is going to be a huge success story and everybody now wants to be
associated with that success story. That is why we are seeing people coming
forward,'' said Cde Mutasa.
He said the CFU's current leadership was a group of young people who had a
bigger role to play in agriculture.
His ministry would examine the application forms received for land
allocation without favour or bias.
"We are treating every person in need of land in the same manner. Whether
white, black or Asian, we examine the applications in the same manner," said
Cde Mutasa.
Turning to the issuance of the 99-year-leases to new farmers, Cde Mutasa
said those who collected forms had already returned them adding that his
ministry was in the process of examining those forms.
"When we issue out these leases, there will be an event where about 300
leases will be issued out. We are looking at issuing these in Mashonaland
Central where farming activities on individual farms are very impressive,''
said Cde Mutasa.

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I'm ready to die for Zim, says Tsvangirai

Zim Standard

            By Foster Dongozi and Godfrey Mutimba

            MDC anti-Senate faction president, Morgan Tsvangirai, yesterday
declared that he was prepared to die in order to bring about democracy.

            Speaking at Huruyadzo business centre in Chitungwiza where more
than 20 000 people turned up, Tsvangirai said Zimbabweans had suffered for
too long under President Robert Mugabe's rule.

            The venue is a stone's throw away from the house of pro-Senate
MDC member, Job Sikhala.

            Three weeks ago, pro-Senate faction president, Arthur Mutambara,
addressed a rally attended by around 1 500 people.The faction however said 5
000 people attended Mutambara's rally.

            Responding to Mugabe's threats that any attempts to lead
peaceful demonstrations against his government could result in his death, a
fired up Tsvangirai said:

            "I am prepared to die in order to liberate the people of
Zimbabwe from Zanu PF's misrule.

            Who are you Mugabe to talk about the death or life of an
individual, are you God?

            Even if I am killed, one thing is certain, all dictators, just
like other people, will die. If I die first, I will be waiting for you in
heaven and I will ask you if you managed to improve the lives of

            He said the success of his faction's congress had shaken Zanu PF
resulting in mass panic among the party's leadership.

            "Every time you see Zanu PF officials addressing people, none of
them is ever calm.

            They are always shouting and abusive because they have no
solutions for the crisis facing the country and have no idea on how to solve
the chaos they created."

            Tsvangirai blasted Mugabe's last ditch efforts to engage in what
he terms "building bridges" with British Premier, Tony Blair.

            "What kind of a person are you? The solution to the crisis in
Zimbabwe is right here in Zimbabwe not in Britain. You should build bridges
with Tsvangirai not Tony Blair."

            Midway through his address, several youths who allegedly belong
to the pro-Senate camp started ordering Tsvangirai's followers to leave the

             Tsvangirai's followers beat them up.

            A police officer who tried to shield them from further beatings
was also beaten up and saved by the arrival of reinforcements from the
anti-riot squad.

            Tsvangirai has embarked on nationwide rallies to mobilise people
ahead of anticipated street protests against the government's misrule and
failure to manage the economy. He has already toured the Midlands and
Masvingo, and attracted bumper crowds.

            Tsvangirai will address a rally at White City Stadium in
Bulawayo today with further rallies lined up for Bindura, Mutare, Gwanda,
Chinhoyi and Hwange.

            The final star rally will be held in Harare.

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Shamuyarira and Mutasa cross swords

Zim Standard

            RELATIONS between Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus
Mutasa on the one hand, and party spokesperson Nathan Shamuyarira on the
other are seriously strained after Mutasa blamed the latter for the collapse
of Jongwe Printers and The Voice, The Standard can reveal.

            Jongwe Printers is the publishing arm of Zanu PF, while The
Voice is its official publication.

            Mutasa, who is also National Security, Land Reform and Land
Resettlement Minister, reportedly told President Robert Mugabe that
Shamuyarira was the architect of Zanu PF's crumbling empire, an accusation
that torched off the ire of party's spokesperson.

            Impeccable sources at Zanu PF headquarters said the two now do
not see "eye to eye" or even greet each other when they meet in the

            They said Mutasa's report to Mugabe followed Shamuyarira's
failure to avail audited accounts for both Jongwe Printers and The Voice,
which were a pre-condition for a rescue package from the Central
Intelligence Organisation (CIO) to the collapsing newspaper.

            Shamuyarira presides over both Jongwe Printers and The Voice,
which have failed to publish for the past two weeks after Sovereign Printers
refused to print the newspaper because of a $2b debt.

            The sources said Mutasa recommended to Mugabe that the party
replace the ageing Shamuyarira from the post of chairman of Zanu PF's fast
crumbling empire.

            Mugabe reportedly summoned Shamuyarira to his Munhumutapa
offices for an explanation.

            "The dispute between the two has been long standing but hell
broke loose because Shamuyarira felt the audit demand and the report to the
President was Mutasa's way of pulling him down," said one of the sources.

            Last month, Jongwe attempted to dispose of one of its buildings
in Harare in a bid to raise working capital but the sale was reportedly
blocked by Mugabe.

            The ailing company owes several firms billions of dollars. Art
Corporation is owned over $1b while its printing machines were put up for
auction last month for a debt of $300m owed to Print Originators.

            Shamuyarira, the sources said, felt the CIO boss was intruding
too much into companies that he oversees and as a way of hitting back he
suspended Voice editor, Lovemore Mataire -widely seen as Mutasa's blue-eyed
boy - on allegations of "insubordination" and abuse of funds.

            The Zanu PF spokesperson suspected that Mataire was passing
confidential information about the operations of the company to Mutasa.

            The CIO, which has taken over The Daily Mirror and The Sunday
Mirror, was making moves to avail a rescue package for the struggling Zanu
PF newspaper.

            Mataire, who led investment talks and held several meetings with
CIO representatives early this year, was cleared of fraud after Mutasa
withdrew the charges without the consent of Shamuyarira, who was the
complainant in the case.

            Mataire was accused of diverting $6m from the newspaper sales
for personal use.

            Mutasa last week vehemently denied reporting Shamuyarira to
Mugabe but confirmed he wrote to the courts asking them to withdraw fraud
charges against Mataire.

            "That's not true; I never went to the President. What I can
confirm is that I withdrew the case because I felt that it is the party that
should take disciplinary action against Mataire," Mutasa said.

             He added,

            "Mumusangano wega wega pane mukuru ndiye anozopa final decision.
Semukuru ndakaita zvinodiwa nemusangano, (In any party there is a senior
person who gives the final decision when people fail to agree. I acted in
the interests of the party)."

            Shamuyarira could not be reached for comment despite repeated
efforts to get his version of the fallout. His mobile went unanswered on
Friday and Saturday.

            Mataire declined to comment, referring all questions to his
lawyer, Chris Mhike of Atherstone and Cook legal practitioners, who said his
client was yet to receive the letter of suspension.

            "We have heard about the purported suspension but we are not
clear what the allegations are because my client is yet to receive the
letter," Mhike said.

            Mhike denied that Mataire was ratting on Shamuyarira.

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16 years later, Kombayi's #1m lawsuit to take off

Zim Standard


            SIXTEEN years after he lodged a £1 million (about $172 billion)
lawsuit against ruling party officials, maimed Gweru businessperson Patrick
Kombayi's case goes for a pre-trial conference this week.

            The Standard can reveal that the wheels of justice might now be
starting to move slowly for Kombayi who was maimed for life after he was
shot by Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) operatives on 24 March 1990.

            It was just three days away from a showdown with the late Vice
President Simon Muzenda for the Gweru Urban seat when two operatives shot
and seriously injured  Kombayi who was the national organising secretary of
the Zimbabwe Unity Movement (ZUM).

            In 1990 ZUM mounted the first notable challenge to the ruling
Zanu PF party.

            Kombayi's attackers were convicted of attempted murder but were
pardoned by President Robert Mugabe.

            Kombayi, who underwent surgery in the UK, then went to court to
sue Muzenda, the ruling Zanu PF party, the Minister of State Security who at
that time was Emmerson Mnangagwa, and the operatives.

            The case never got off the ground until now - almost two years
after Muzenda's death.

            "The 16-year-old case is now only scheduled to sit for a
pre-trial conference on 10th of April at 15.00hrs in Harare.

            To say justice delayed is justice denied is really an
understatement in this case," said Kombayi, who insists he will sue Muzenda's

            The matter has not until now been heard as some of the files
went missing at the courts. They were only found in the archives, after a

            But that is not the only case Kombayi wants finalised.

            In August last year Justice Maphios Cheda ordered Mnangagwa, the
Minister of Rural Housing and Social Amenities and former Speaker of
Parliament, to pay Kombayi US$20m or Z$112b with interest and cost of the
suit for defamation.

            A writ of execution against Mnangagwa's property was
subsequently issued by the High Court in November last year.

            However, Mnangagwa has won a reprieve after he successfully
applied for the rescission of Justice Maphios Cheda's default judgement.

            In his judgement, Justice Nicholas Ndou ordered "that the
judgement taken by default against applicant on 2 August 2005 be and is
hereby rescinded and that the costs of this application be borne by the
respondent (Kombayi)".

            Kombayi however believes this is yet another move meant to delay
the case.

            "As a lawyer and former minister of justice, he is well aware
that he was required to file his appearance to defend and that he was to do
it timeously. As far as I am concerned. the reprieve is just meant as an
abuse of the court process and intended to frustrate me and delay the court
order from being properly executed."

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Harare commission set to cede duties

Zim Standard

            BY OUR STAFF

            COMMISSIONERS running Harare city are now courting the business
community to repair roads and street lights in the city, The Standard has

            Officials at Town House are busy working out incentives for
companies prepared to take up duties traditionally reserved for the local

            A full council meeting on Thursday tasked the City's Department
of Works to come up with the policy on the Prevention of Inner City Decay
that would give incentives to the business community prepared to bail out
the local authority.

            According to the minutes, officials suggested that rates could
be reduced for organisations prepared to maintain certain roads and
streetlights within the vicinity.

            "The committee felt there was need to make the Central Business
District a more attractive environment for those who work in and enter it to
buy services and goods and implored council and all stakeholders to
rehabilitate the centre into a safe, clean, comfortable and beautiful
 place," reads part of the minutes.

            An internal city health department report warned that Harare was
fast degenerating into a "fly and rodent city" as a result of garbage that
goes uncollected for months .

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Boy in cells after judge gets knock

Zim Standard

            By OUR STAFF

            A HIGH School student languished in police cells for several
days after he was arrested for allegedly knocking at the door of a High
Court judge.

            The 16-year-old boy, who cannot be named since he is a minor,
was only released yesterday after his lawyers lodged an urgent court
application for his release.

            An affidavit by Virginia Mawere, the boy's mother, shows that
the boy was arrested on Thursday after Justice Joseph Musakwa made a
complaint to the police.

            Musakwa, who resides at Tokwe Flats in Mabelreign, told police
that someone had knocked at his door and "they suspect that the person
intended to break into the house and steal", the affidavit notes.

            Police then picked up the boy and another one who was quickly
released following the intervention of his father who is a diplomat at the
Zimbabwe Embassy in Namibia.

            "My son is only 16 years old. He is still at school ... is too
young to be incarcerated for such a trivial allegation. I have pleaded with
the police to place him in my custody and they have refused," said the

            She added:

            "This is a clear case where the police should have thoroughly
investigated to ensure that they do not necessarily cause disharmony among

            It is also a case where the complainant (Judge) could have
approached myself as the guardian of the minor child and ascertain my child's
involvement before approaching the police.It is an assault on my child's
civil rights."

            Musakwa said:

            "As far as I know there is no question of the mother saying we
did not talk to her.

            When we followed up on an earlier incident we went to her
residence and talked to the mother.

            "There are a lot of goings on in the area.

            There was damage to my residence.

            The police did their investigations."

            Aleck Muchadehama of Mbidzo, Muchadehama and Makoni yesterday
confirmed that the boy had been released following their urgent application.
He, however, said police altered the charge, and accused the minor of
malicious injury to property.

            A relieved close relative of the boy who paid a $250 000 fine in
order for him to avoid a weekend in cells told The Standard: "Police didn't
talk about the knock at the judge's door this time."

            They changed their story saying the hedge behind the flats had
been cut and blamed him for that. I didn't want to pay the fine but the
mother said we had to do that just to secure the release of the minor."

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Parliament ditches Zanu PF printers

Zim Standard


            AFTER nearly a year of total black out, Parliament has engaged a
new company to print the Hansard after Jongwe Printers' failure deprived the
public of a vital source of information on legislative deliberations.

            The Zanu PF-owned Jongwe Printers, facing a serious cash crisis,
has also for the past two weeks failed to print its own newspaper, The
Voice, which is the official mouthpiece of the ruling party.

            Hansard is a record of the debates of the House of Assembly.

            The last Hansard was published on 26 July last year.

            Parliament has now engaged a company called High-Gloss Printing,
which will now print the Hansard.

            Clerk of Parliament, Austin Zvoma, confirmed last week that they
had dumped Jongwe Printers, the company contracted to print the
parliamentary record after its failure to produce the publication.

            "We have now engaged another printing company for the printing
of the Hansard. You will be able to get a copy of the Hansard this week.

            We called them in on a short notice because we have realised
that they have the potential," Zvoma said.

            He said Parliament had always had an agreement with Jongwe
Printers in which the company would print the Hansard and receive payment

            However, he would not reveal the amount involved in the new

            "Jongwe Printers have a backlog of about 17 editions but they
have promised to print the editions as soon as they acquire the newsprint.

            I think they will still be very useful in the printing of
Hansards since we now have two houses of Parliament," he said.

            Jongwe Printers had been printing the Hansard since the

            Commenting on the failure by Jongwe Printers to print the
Hansard since last year MDC Chief Whip, Innocent Gonese, said:

            "It's a very sad development because the public has been
deprived of the opportunity to get to know what is happening in parliament.

            Newspapers just give brief accounts of what would have happened
in Parliament and the Hansard is the alternative."

            More than 8 000 copies of the Hansard are supposed to be printed
a day after each Parliamentary sitting and these are meant for MPs,
constituency information centres and the members of the public.

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Makwavarara in $100m satellite dish controversy

Zim Standard


            WHILE the commission running the city of Harare fails to deliver
basic services to ratepayers, the chairperson of the commission, Sekesai
Makwavarara, just can't resist the urge to splash out council funds on

            Makwavarara had a satellite dish and decoder installed at the
mayoral mansion without the approval of the commission, it has been

            Minutes of a commission meeting held on 8 March confirm that
when Makwavarara moved from the guesthouse into the main house, which had no
satellite dish, she decided to have the news and entertainment facility
installed without seeking council

            The satellite dish and decoder were acquired and installed at a
cost of  $103, 4m without going to tender.

            A market survey revealed that the acquisition and installation
of a DSTV satellite dish ranges between $40m and $60m depending on the
packages involved.

            The issue only came to the commission's attention when
Makwavarara requested payment for the decoder and satellite to be

            It was also established that only one company, Croft Trading
(Pvt) Ltd was approached against laid down procurement procedures, for the
sourcing of the satellite dish.

            "The Acting Chamber Secretary reported that the quotation from
Croft Trading (Pvt) Ltd was the only quotation which had been sourced," read
the minutes.

            The Commission, however, resolved to pay $94 million instead of
the $103 million, $4 million unless the company produced a VAT Clearance

            They also emphasised the need for strict adherence to laid down
procurement procedures whenever purchases were made in future.

            This case comes barely two months after Makwavarara was involved
in controversy surrounding the proposed purchase of curtains for the Mayoral
mansion totalling $35b.

            While the commission has totally failed to provide services to
residents of the city citing either shortages of resources or fuel, it is
never short of funds whenever it feels the urge to splash out.

            Last week the commission was reported to have bought its
officials new vehicles, living up to its image of being big spenders.

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Court to deliver Siyoka verdict for tomorrow

Zim Standard

            By Nqobani Ndlovu
            BULAWAYO - Matabeleland North provincial magistrate, John
Masimba, will tomorrow (Monday) deliver judgement in a criminal defamation
case between a top Cabinet minister and suspended chairman of the ruling
party, Zanu PF.

            The Minister of Home Affairs who is also MP for Beitbridge,
Kembo Mohadi, filed criminal defamation charges against suspended
Matabeleland South provincial chairman, Lloyd Siyoka, over utterances he
allegedly made to President Robert Mugabe at a meeting at Elangeni Training
Centre in Bulawayo in November 2004.

            Allegations against Siyoka are that he told the President that
Mohadi drew a pistol and threatened him at a meeting held in Gwanda when he
was suspended.

            The meeting preceded the Tsholotsho debacle and was attended by
the Zanu PF presidium, central committee members, Bulawayo and Matabeleland
North and South chairpersons and other top  officials.

            The case opened on 13 February with John Nkomo, the Speaker of
Parliament and Deputy Senate president, Naison Ndlovu, and Senator Eunice
Sandi testifying against Siyoka.

            Nkomo is the first witness as he chaired the meeting, while
Ndlovu and Sandi are cited as the second and third witnesses respectively,
since they attended the meeting.

            Siyoka, represented by Samp Mlaudzi, told the court that the
charges by Mohadi and the State witnesses were trumped up because of his
frosty relations with them, which soured when he assumed the post of
provincial party chairman in 2001.

            He also claimed that the government officials turned against him
after he exposed their corrupt activities such as multiple farm ownership,
which was in clear defiance of President Mugabe's one-man-one-farm policy.

            Siyoka alleged that differences with Mohadi started in 2003
after he refused to evict war veterans allocated land at a farm in the
province to pave way for the minister.

            He also told the court that political relations between him and
the minister further worsened when he refused to issue a public statement
stating that Mohadi did not own a number of farms.

            Relations with Nkomo, according to Siyoka, soured after he had
pointed out that there was chaos in the resettled farms when Nkomo was still
the Minister responsible for Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement.

            Siyoka accused Ndlovu of usurping his powers by calling
unsanctioned meetings without Siyoka's knowledge.

            However, in his submissions, State prosecutor, Blessing
Kundhlande said Siyoka was a liar who had created imaginary political
disputes between him and the top ruling party leadership in Matabeleland

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Raffingora rates leave residents high and dry

Zim Standard


            RESIDENTS of Raffingora, which falls under Zvimba Rural District
Council, are bitter over the astronomical increase in water charges by the
rural centre saying the majority cannot afford them.

            The residents said the council unilaterally increased water
charges by more than 833% with effect from 1 April.

            Irate residents who called The Standard last week said the
district council was "insensitive to the plight of the people at the rural
centre", which is surrounded by farms.

            They said even after taking into account the cost of buying
chemicals and pumping water to their homes, the charges were still too high
and unaffordable for most of the people.

            "I used to pay an average of $300 000 a month but I am now
required to by about $2,8m a month as if I am staying in an urban area,"
complained a government employee, who requested anonymity for fear of

            The Minister of Local Government, Public Works and Urban
Development Ignatious Chombo, is the MP for Zvimba
            North, which includes Raffingora. He was not immediately
available for comment.

            When contacted for comment the local councillor, Oliver
Chapanduka was abusive.

            "I don't give comments to sell-outs. You people at The Standard
are sell-outs," he said before hanging up.

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Governor rents out farmhouses to teachers

Zim Standard


            MASHONALAND West Governor, Nelson Samkange, is renting out
farmhouses to eight primary school teachers at Rukoba farm, The Standard can

            One of the teachers who refused to be identified for fear of
victimisation told The Standard that starting March they were told to pay
rent of $1 million a month.

            This came as a surprise to them as they had been using the
houses for free before the Governor took over the farm sometime in 2004.

            What irked them most is that no proper maintenance has taken
place since Samkange took over.

            They also believe that the Governor is trying to cash in on the
property that he did not pay for when he acquired it.

            Previously, teachers at the school were provided with houses for
free as an incentive for them to remain at the farm school.

            Asked for comment, Samkange admitted charging the teachers $1
million rentals but said the money would go towards paying for electricity.

            He added that, in any case, government paid them those
allowances so they should pay rent like urban teachers who were lodging in

            Responding to allegations from farm workers that he was failing
to pay them a paltry $350 000 a month on time, he insisted that he was
paying the stipulated $1, 3m.

            But pressed further, he said there might be other workers who
could be getting as little $340 000 due to deductions.

            He said he created a facility for his workers to get groceries
from his farm store on credit.

            The money would then be deducted at the end of the month, But
Samkange blamed neighbouring white commercial farmers for inciting his
workers by paying their workers twice as much as the gazetted wages.

            Sometimes, he said, the workers were paid for doing nothing.

            He said his workers should be appreciative as he was trying to
provide secondary education for their children.

            He also attributed the discontentment among his workers to "the
few misguided and mischievous who still harbour the idea that a white man
might one day come back to the farm".

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Pockets Hill sabotaged

Zim Standard

            By Foster Dongozi

            WHILE state security agents went on a wild goose chase on an
alleged arms cache in Mutare, the national broadcaster, Zimbabwe
Broadcasting Holdings, was being sabotaged, The Standard can reveal.

            The ZBH headquarters, Pockets Hill in Highlands, which is
heavily protected by armed soldiers, had its Internet and surveillance
cameras disabled.

            When film footage from surveillance cameras was viewed by
security personnel, it showed two men who sneaked into the studios in the
middle of the night.

            The two men could not be identified, but it has been confirmed
they are certainly not members of ZBH staff.

            Reliable sources at ZBH told The Standard that the sabotage was
committed on the fifth floor, above the office of Rino Zhuwarara, the
company's executive chairman.

            Although the incident happened in February, a veil of secrecy
has been thrown over the issue.

            Senior officials at ZBH and the Ministry of Information are
reportedly fighting to have the sabotage swept under the carpet.

            Insiders said the sabotage could have been the work of one of
the factions battling for the control of ZBH ahead of President Robert
Mugabe's anticipated retirement.

            As a result of the sabotage, security at ZBH has been beefed up.

            "Even in the newsrooms and offices, we are seeing a lot of
security people  on the prowl in the corridors," said a ZBH staffer.

            Strangely, while senior officials at ZBH professed ignorance
about the breach, sources at ZBH were adamant that the intrusion took place.

            Jennifer Tanyanyiwa, the ZBH corporate secretary said:

            "Please be advised that there was absolutely no interference
with ZBH operations and that can be confirmed by the non-interruption of our

            The Internet and surveillance cameras usually do not affect
broadcasting in any overt manner.

            Tanyanyiwa continued:

            "Further, it is the first time that we are hearing that there
were people captured by surveillance cameras interfering with operations and
we would actually appreciate if you could provide us with further details so
that we can institute investigations because as far as we are concerned, no
such thing ever occurred."

            Zhuwarara also professed ignorance of the sabotage.

            "I am not aware of that. It is something that I would take
seriously as it concerns the security of ZBH.

            When workers are negotiating for salaries, they will tell you

            The workers said management was trying to keep the issue secret
in order to preserve their jobs.

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MP begs Canada to electrify Bikita East

Zim Standard

            BY OUR STAFF

            BIKITA East MP, Kenneth Matimba, recently begged the Canadian
Embassy to electrify his constituency.

            Matimba said the government's Expanded Rural Electrification
Programme, introduced during the run-up to the 2002 presidential election,
had not benefited his constituency due to lack of funds. This left the
community with no hope of getting power supplies, he said.

            Speaking at the commissioning of a $6, 2 billion project at
Chikuku Vocational Centre in Bikita East, Matimba implored the Canadians to
rescue the community.

            "I want to appeal to you Ambassador (Roxanne Dube) that my
constituency lacks electricity.

            If you can fund us to get power, the college (vocational centre)
would also benefit.

            We have problems electrifying this place and hence we seek your
assistance so that we overcome our long time challenge,'' Matimba said.

            Although some parts of the country benefited from the rural
electrification programme, the Bikita East constituency remains in the dark;
a situation Matimba said was hampering development.

            Speaking at the same ceremony, Dube said her country would
continue to support Zimbabwe in developmental projects.

            The Canadian Embassy funded the vocational training centre with
a $6,2 billion cash injection to facilitate the purchasing of training
equipment for various departments.

            The centre offers training courses in carpentry, knitting,
building, agriculture, business management, among others.

            Dube said her country was willing to complement the government's
efforts in encouraging entrepreneurial training in tertiary education.

            The Chikuku training centre was established in 1986 by the late
Alois Mutambanesango to empower youths from his district. After
Mutambanesango's death the Roman Catholic Church took over.

            The centre serves communities from Gutu, Bikita, Chimanimani,
Chipinge and Buhera.

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Levy increase riles drought-hit villagers

Zim Standard


            VILLAGERS in Chimanimani district have vowed not to pay
development levy, which has been increased from $20 000 a household to $100
000 a month, saying they cannot afford such a huge amount.

            Beginning January the levy, which is paid by every village
household to the district council through the village heads, was increased
to $100 000 a month.

            The villagers, who call the levy Mari Yemusoro, said the amount
was beyond their reach especially this year when most of them failed to
harvest any crops due to poor rainfall in the region.

            "I don't know where I will get the money.

            They will have to sell my chickens to raise the money," said one
elderly villager in Gudyanga Village.

            The villagers said they had already approached their local
councillor for Ward 20, Zekias Nhachi, with their problem.

            Nhachi said he would take up the issue with Chimanimani District
Administrator, Smart Chidawande.

            "People here are not happy because, first they cannot afford the
new amount and secondly, they feel that they were not consulted.

            It was going to be better if it was pegged at $60 000 a
household because the areas fall under regions four and five, which are very
dry," Nhachi said.

            Areas such as Gudyanga, Nyanyadzi, Hotsprings, Wengezi, Tonhorai
and Changazi fall under regions 4 and 5, which are not suitable for
agricultural activities.

            Villagers in the areas rely mainly on irrigation schemes for
their food production.

            As a result of the drought that hit the area this year, most
families in the area are dependent on food donations from donor
organisations such as Christian Care International as well as buying food
from the Grain Marketing Board (GMB).

            "The problem with the grain from GMB is that it last came in
November last year and when it comes, it is distributed according to
political affiliation," said Nhachi, who showed The Standard a copy of the
letter he wrote to Chidawande complaining about politicisation of food.

            Chidawande, who denied knowledge of politicisation of food aid
in the district, referred all questions to Chimanimani District chief
executive officer, Joseph Harahwa.

            When contacted for comment Harahwa said the council consulted
the villagers before coming up with the new figures.

            "Where there are a lot of people some are bound to complain. It's
normal. In any case, what will you buy with $100 000 these days?

            Some people were actually saying the amount is too little,"
Harahwa said.

            He said the council was ploughing back into the communities.

            "We are building roads which were affected by rains in the
eastern part of the district. We maintain dip-tanks and boreholes and other
infrastructure for the communities," he said.

            Harahwa said those finding it difficult to pay should seek

            "Even those people above the age of 60 should notify their
councillors for exemption."

            Association of Rural District Councils president, Jerry Gotora,
said it was necessary to promote rural development.

            Gotora said the funds would be used in servicing roads, building
clinics, bridges and boreholes for the welfare of the rural population.

            "If people in rural areas want development they will have to pay
for it.

            The age of donor-dependence is long gone. They (the villagers)
should become their own donors," Gotora said.

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Worker exodus threatens health care systems

Zim Standard

            By Bertha Shoko

            THE continued loss of skilled health care workers to the
developed world is a serious threat to health care systems in Zimbabwe and
Africa and remains a challenge for the continent, health experts have said.

            This was said on Friday as Zimbabwe joined the rest of the world
in commemorating World Health Day. The World Health Organisation (WHO)
dedicated the day to solving what it calls the "health workforce crisis".

            And WHO must have had Zimbabwe in mind when it chose to focus on
this problem.

            In Zimbabwe, the brain drain problem has become such a huge
crisis that the health delivery system is threatened with collapse.

            The country's health sector has deteriorated over the past few
years due to inadequate funding, shortages of foreign currency and the
departure of skilled health personnel to other countries offering better
conditions of service.

            The Minister of Health and Child Welfare, David Parirenyatwa,
told The Standard that his ministry was taking the issue of brain drain
seriously and his ministry had taken part in a regional meeting on World
Health Day hosted by WHO on Friday in Zambia.

            Parirenyatwa said: "The issue of brain drain is quite serious
not only for Zimbabwe but for the rest of Africa. We will let you know soon
the measures we have put in place to address this problem following this
regional meeting."

            WHO says health workers, defined as people who provide health
care to those who need it, are the "heart of health systems".

            However, the organisation says these health systems, especially
in sub-Saharan Africa, are threatened by chronic shortages of health workers
as a result of decades of "underinvestment in their education, training,
salaries and working environment".

            WHO says: "The health workforce is in crisis - a crisis to which
no country is entirely immune.

            This has led to a severe lack of key skills, rising levels of
career switching and early retirement, as well as national and international

            "In sub-Saharan Africa, where all the issues mentioned above are
combined with the HIV/Aids pandemic, there are an estimated 750 000 health
workers in a region that is home to 682 million people.

            By comparison, the ratio is 10 to 15 times higher in OECD
countries, whose ageing population is putting a growing strain on an
over-stretched workforce.

            The WHO says solutions to this crisis need to be worked out at
local, national and international levels and must involve governments, the
United Nations, health professionals, non-governmental organizations and
community leaders.

            "There is no single solution to such a complex problem, but ways
forward do exist and must now be implemented.

            For example, some developed countries have put policies in place
to stop active recruitment of health workers from severely understaffed

            "Some developing countries have revised their pay scales and
introduced non-monetary incentives to retain their workforce and deploy them
in rural areas," the WHO says.

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Midzi bungles again!

Zim Standard

            By Deborah-Fay Ndhlovu

            ZIMBABWEAN authorities are reportedly frustrating efforts by an
Australian company, in partnership with some Zimbabweans, to mine uranium in
Kanyemba amid reports that government was now lobbying Russia to take up the

            Lowenbrau is a partnership between Omega Corporation Limited and
an Australian company with a 70 % shareholding and locals who include Robert
Zhuwao, Roderick Mlauzi, Nkonzo Chikosi and Charles Matezu.

            The consortium was given a Special Grant to mine uranium by the
Mining Affairs Board last November and indicated to the Ministry of Mines
and Mining Development that it was ready to invest about US$5 million for
the initial exploration.

            But its application could just bite the dust on signs that Mines
Minister Amos Midzi was sitting on the document and the contract could be
awarded to a Russian company.

            Russia and China last year voted against a decision to have
Zimbabwe censored by the Security Council for the widely condemned
"Operation Murambatsina".

            "The Permanent Secretary is in Russia and he took along with him
the details of the uranium project. The Lowenbrau offer has been sitting
with the Minister for a long time and we do not actually know what is
happening but suspect that they want to give the SG to Russia," said a
source close to the proceedings.

            "The Mining Affairs Board gave them a Special Grant (No 10/05
HM) for the uranium project but the hold up is with the Minister."

            Standardbusiness was shown a letter to Lowenbrau, which said the
Mining Affairs Board, had approved their application.

            The letter, dated 20 December 2005 and signed by L.Chimsasa (as
secretary for the Mining Affairs' Board) reads: "I am pleased to advise that
the Mining Affairs Board at its 524th meeting found the above application
satisfactory and accordingly recommended it for approval by the Minister."

            Interuran discovered the uranium in 1981 and the government says
it intends to explore it for electricity production. President Robert Mugabe
declared last year "a year of investment" but officials say his
pronouncements are being scuttled by some of his officials who are
clandestinely giving away projects to undeserving applicants.

            Last year a war erupted between ZESA Holdings and Hwange
Colliery Company after government rescinded a decision to award the
Sinamatella grant for coal mining to HCC.

            "That is the thing with the government . last year the Mining
Affairs Board approved that Hwange be given the SG for Sinamatella but
people were instructed from the top that the decision be changed. The same
could just happen with Lowenbrau and they get taken over by Russia. Projects
like these are sensitive," said the source.

            Potential investors have also been lost because of the
controversial Mines and Minerals Amendment Act. The Ministry of Mines failed
to award Exclusive Prospecting Orders last year resulting in Zimbabwean
companies losing potential investors.

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Relief on the horizon for market

Zim Standard

            marketwatch with Deborah-Fay Ndlovu

            THE $14 trillion Treasury Bill maturities expected into the
money market this month should provide relief to the stock market but could
spell doomfor short-term interest rates, analysts said last week.

            A dip in short-term rates was already expected last week on
signs of ease on the deficit on the money market. It opened Monday $9
trillion down but was forecast to close $6,8 trillion short on Wednesday
after $2,7 trillion came in by way of TB maturities. The deficit was
expected further to ease to $4 trillion by end of last week pushing
short-term deposit rates down to an average of 350 % for 7 to 14 days.

            Banks were quoting a rate of 375 % for 30 days and 400 % for 60
days. The 91-day TB rate remained unchanged at 525 % while the Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe issued two tenders on Monday each totaling $500 billion and
$95,5 billion and $414 billion was allotted for the two tenders

            The injection of liquidity on the market helped spark interest
into the 91-day TB, which had been failing to attract investors because of
the cash deficits.

            Analysts said the challenge for the central bank would be to mop
up excess liquidity on the money market.

            "Short-term rates will ease off in line with the increase in
liquidity. What remains to be seen is how the central bank will mop up the
liquidity on the market because it would be ideal to keep the market short,"
said Terence Mazango of Highveld.

            He however conceded that maintaining the deficits would increase
government debt.

            "Government debt should increase. As of now it was doubling
every 91 days at 525%,' he said.

            The drop in interest rates however spelt good news for the stock
market, which analysts said, was likely to make gains.

            "We should see a change in fortunes for the equities market
because of the TB maturities that are coming in this month," said a
stockbroker with a Harare-based firm.

            The industrial index opened on a good note last week but lost
ground on Wednesday after dipping 2.13% to close at 30 230 829.12 points.

            Counters to lose last Wednesday included Econet which shed a $30
000 to close at $190 000. Meikles lost $5 000 to $165 000 while Hippo and
Delta shed $2 000 each to trade at $30 000 and $33 000 respectively, while
Astra dropped $1100 to $7000. Gains were in Colcom which upped $5 000 to $25
000. The mining index was not spared the losses as it slipped 1.53% to close
at 9 598 171.76 points pulled down by Bindura and Rio Zim.

            The two counters shed $2 500 and $100 000 each to close
Wednesday at $10 000 and $700 000 respectively.

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Zim holiday club takes locals on wild geese chase

Zim Standard

            From Gibbs Dube in Bulawayo

            MORE than 5 000 prominent business executives, lawyers and
doctors have allegedly lost billions of dollars following the closure of
offices of the Holiday Club Zimbabwe (HCZ) Private Limited, a leisure
enterprise designed to facilitate cheap holidays in South African resorts
through a timeshare scheme.

            The HCZ, linked to Holiday Club South Africa (HCSA), has closed
its offices in Zimbabwe and is now being run from South Africa by an
administrator although the directors - Amanda and Steven Deller - still
reside in Kariba. Investigations by Standardbusiness have revealed that
local investors in the HCZ have been left in the cold as they can no longer
access South African resorts.

            The Leisure Property Trust Management Association (LPTMA) is
supposed to safeguard levies and membership fees collected through a
timeshare scheme yet members have never been given a copy of the

            They have not even attended a single annual general meeting of
the holiday club as per provisions of the LPTMA constitution. The financial
records of the Holiday Club Zimbabwe have not been made public since 1995,
leaving members worried about the financial status of the company.

            Members, who have not accessed holiday resorts for more than two
years, were recently shocked when they received bills averaging $45 million
per person indicating that they needed to update their HCZ levies,
subscriptions and timeshares.

            Although Steven and Amanda Deller refused to comment on the
issue saying in a statement that "we can not respond to any of your
questions", Sammy Yeo - based in South Africa and currently the
Administration Services Manager of the Holiday Club headquarters in
Johannesburg - acknowledged that the HCZ was facing serious problems.

            Yeo said the HCZ stopped marketing in the country in 2003 due to
crippling effects of hyperinflation which has resulted in the acute
shortages of fuel for tourism activities in Zimbabwe.

            She said the HCZ has been facing difficulties stemming from lack
of petrol for tourists to travel from South Africa to tourism destinations
in Zimbabwe while at the same time, "there is no fuel to run our houseboats
in the country".

            Yeo, without elaborating, said members of the HCZ should not
feel cheated as their levies and related subscriptions were used for
maintaining resorts in Zimbabwe, which include Hakuna Matata, and some
houseboats in Kariba.

            "We have further costs such as staff salaries, this includes
cleaning staff, gardeners, receptionists ... There is also certain
maintenance involved in order to keep the resorts in a decent state. These
fees are only covering operational expenses."

            However, responding to recent queries by members about the
running of the HCZ, she noted that there were financial irregularities in
the HCZ that led to the closure of the company's offices in Zimbabwe and
lack of access by members to international holiday resorts.

            Members have questioned the levying of membership and
reservation fees every year which are not backed up by audited financial
statements despite such requirements under the Companies Act. Kudenga and
Company, a Zimbabwean firm of chartered accountants, is believed to be
looking into the finances of the HCZ.

            A spokesman for the company said that "we are working on the
finances of the Holiday Club Zimbabwe but I cannot tell you anything more
than this." According to the chairman of an association of concerned HCZ
members, Feny Mlambo, the operations of the club have been shrouded in
mystery since 1995.

            In 2000, there were over 5 000 members but the number has since
dropped to 1 312 in 2006 owing to lack of accountability by the Holiday Club

            A prominent Bulawayo lawyer, Joseph James, who is one of the
members of the HCZ, said: "We are exploring all the avenues to ensure that
we get to the bottom of the whole thing. Members are depressed as they may
have most billions of dollars to the Holiday Club."

            The members paid varying amounts to the HCZ between 1995 and
2005 but have been irked by lack of financial accountability and access to
South African holiday resorts due to the recent closure of the offices of
the HCZ and lack of information on their invested funds.

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Another tough year for Zimbabwe firms

Zim Standard

            BY NDAMU SANDU

            MOST companies have painted a gloomy outlook this year as the
country's macro-economic environment continues to deteriorate, with no
solution in sight from government.

            In the just ended reporting season, most businesses across all
sectors said they were tightening their belts in anticipation of another
tough year.

            In statements accompanying year-end results, quoted companies
said they were bracing for another tough year characterised by a harsh
operating environment.

            Mining concern, Bindura Nickel Corporation (BNC) has said 2006
looks to be another difficult year and the macro-economic fundamentals
continued to pose a serious threat to the viability of the business, with
continuing high levels of inflation accompanied by high interest rates.

            Medical group, Medtech Holdings said urgent measures were
required to arrest the decline in the economy.

            "The economic environment continues to deteriorate and we can
only hope that urgent measures are taken to correct this without any
dramatic policy changes and policy contradictions. We do, however,
anticipate another difficult year ahead and management is ready to deal with
challenges as they arise," said Medtech.

            Building society, Beverley said the economic challenges were
expected to continue well into 2006.

            It however said that it expected the authorities to remain
resolute in their turn around of the economy.

            Finhold, a significant player in the financial sector, said the
operating environment in the banking sector is expected to remain
challenging on the back of a tight monetary policy being pursued by the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe as it seeks to rein in on inflation in 2006.

            Tobacco merchants, British American Tobacco (BAT) says the
macro-economic priority will be stabilising the economy by managing
inflation downwards and boosting foreign currency supply.

            ". Consumer purchasing power is likely to remain depressed which
will put pressure on company sales volumes," BAT warned.

            Stanbic Bank said with the high rate of inflation, tight
liquidity will persist and interest rates will remain high in the first half
of the year. Zimbabwe dollar's free-fall is also expected to maintain its
momentum and this will cause immense pressure on the operating expenditure
and there will be little borrowing because of the high lending rates and the
perennial foreign currency shortages.

            Zimbabwe's macro-economic environment has made it difficult to
thrive with most companies operating below full capacity.

            Capacity utilisation in most manufacturing firms is standing at
less than 50% due to the shortage of raw materials compounded by the
shortage of foreign currency.

            The inflation rate is on upward trend and was in February
standing at 782% and is expected to peak further in the next few months.

            Most exports have become unviable, as the interbank has remained
static at $99 258 to US$1 since January while inflation has gained momentum
over the corresponding period.

            The government, a significant player in the player, seems
clueless of the solutions required to arrest the haemorrhaging in the
economy that has resulted in most investors shunning the country and most
companies in the country operate on survival mode.

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Zimbabweans reflect on an independence dream deferred

Zim Standard


            IN exactly nine days, Zimbabweans throughout and outside the
country will gather to mark 26 years of independence, but for the majority
the occasion will provide sobering moments to reflect on how they could
claim so much but yet have so little to show for it.

            Independence brought freedom for the dispossessed and oppressed
black majority, but many question if the freedom to be unemployed, freedom
not to afford basic commodities, health care, education, and housing as well
as denial of freedom to differ with those who rule us today, can be the sum
total of being independent.

            While a select few - aligned to the ruling party - feed from the
high table of independence, the majority cannot escape the reality that
increasing impoverishment blights their understanding of independence.

            Regrettably, an increasing number see independence as trading
one oppressive system for another and many of the gallant sons and daughters
who paid the supreme sacrifice will wonder, too, whether the nightmare they
see unfolding today is the dream they fought and perished for at home and in
foreign lands.

            Independence has brought sharp disparities between those who
have monopolised the natural resources and wealth that this country is so
endowed with, and those whose aspirations for a Promised Land are being

            At Independence, President Robert Mugabe, then Prime Minister,
made a pledge that his government was determined to bring about meaningful
change to the lives of the majority of the people in this country.

            He also said: "If ever we look to the past, let us do so for the
lesson the past has taught us, namely that oppression and racism are
inequities that must never again find scope in our political and social

            It could never be a correct justification that because the
whites oppressed us yesterday when they had power, the blacks must oppress
them today because they have power.

            An evil remains an evil whether practised by white against black
or by black against white.

            "Our majority rule could easily turn into inhuman if we
oppressed, persecuted or harassed those who do not look or think like the
majority of us.

            "Democracy is never mob-rule.

            It is and should remain disciplined rule requiring compliance
with the law and social rules.

            Our Independence must thus not be construed as an instrument
vesting individuals or groups of individuals with the right to harass and
intimidate others into acting against their will.

            "It is not the right to negate the freedom of others to think
and act as they desire. I, therefore, wish to appeal to all of you to
respect each other and act in promotion of national unity rather than in
negation of that unity."

            We approach 18 April this year reflecting on these
pronouncements and asking ourselves, how it could be possible that our
everyday reality could stand in total contrasts to the promise and pledge
President Mugabe made to the people of this country in the presence of Heads
of State and Government of nearly 100 nations, as well as representatives of
several international, political and voluntary organisations.

            Despite claims of the success of the so-called land reform
programme, there are still people without land who need land.

            There are more people without jobs who desperately need jobs.

            There are children dropping out of schools, threatening a
society of ignorant people and there are patients who need healthcare but
have found the health delivery system unaffordable.

            Let's get back to the drawing board and draw from instructive
lessons of the past two and a half decades.

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Zim Standard Letters

      MDC factions lack gender sensitivity
            THE much talked about MDC congresses have come and gone but the
two events have left one thing clear in the people's minds: the factions are
gender insensitive.

            Elections at the two congresses saw women virtually failing to
get any substantive posts in the national executives  - an indication that
the party is full of male chauvinists and megalomaniacs not concerned with
empowering the womenfolk within their midst.

            The executives that were elected at the congresses leave those
who claim to champion women's rights and equality of men and women wondering
whether our brothers in the MDC in any way believe in that.

            It is surprising that at a time the debate on giving women more
meaningful roles in society is hotting up, those in the MDC chose to
conveniently ignore it.

            Political organisations such as Zanu PF have actually reserved a
third of all positions for women and it is unbelievable that women's groups
have not come out in full support of this development, in as much as they
have not cried foul over their being belittled by the MDC.

            One wonders why local non-governmental organisations and civic
groups find it difficult to criticise the MDC in areas it is wrong, but are
quick to criticise government using all sorts of words.

            Women who decided to contest for posts at the Morgan
Tsvangirai-led faction found the going tough, resulting in the likes of
Grace Kwinjeh withdrawing their candidature.

            So disappointed was Kwinjeh that she described the outcome of
the election as a sign that patriarchy had once again firmly entrenched
itself in the top leadership of the party.

            To her, the whole thing was a non-event. Out of five women who
stood for election, only one prevailed - that is Thoko Khupe who was elected
to the party's vice presidency.

            It should be noted that Khupe only made it because she contested
against one of her own gender  - Getrude Mthombeni.

            Commenting on the same outcome, Lucia Matibenga, the chairperson
of the National Women's Assembly, said  the MDC remained gender blind as
there was no policy pronouncement within the party to ensure the meaningful
participation of women.

            It is surprising how the MDC is failing to move with time. At
SADC level, the leadership has moved from a quota system for women to 50%.

            In compliance with that requirement the newly elected Tanzanian
President, Jakaya Kikwete appointed women to almost 50% of his Cabinet

            Kikwete went further to give women key portfolios such as
Finance and Foreign Affairs. Africa is currently celebrating the election of
Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as the first women to be elected Head of State on the

            In Southern Africa, Zimbabwe and South Africa set the ball
rolling when they elected women vice presidents in Joice Mujuru and Phumzile
Mlambo Ngcuka respectively.

            It is therefore mind-boggling how those in the MDC saw it fit to
go against the tide.

            One wonders then whether a party that dreams of being  in power
one day will then be able to advance the cause of women once in power.

            The MDC's preparedness to accommodate women in decision-making
positions will once again be put to the test in the Budiriro by-election in
May, and local government elections scheduled for September 2006.

            Zanu PF, on the other hand, is already making preparations for
the elections with the chairperson of the Women's League, Oppah Muchinguri,
revealing that they are going to ensure that as women they will field a
third of the candidates.

            Another area the Tsvangirai faction failed to address was the
ethnic balance within the national executive - a critical factor in African

            It has been observed that Tsvangirai's executive, apart from
Khupe and Lovemore Moyo - who were only elected as deputies to Tsvangirai
and Isaac Matongo (national chairperson) respectively - has no  significant
representation from the Ndebele ethnic grouping.

            This apparent failure by the Tsvangirai faction could prove to
be its undoing in its efforts to garner support from all regions including
Matabeleland. It is obvious that Khupe is just a figure head.

            I would subscribe to the view that "for the first time in
Zimbabwe, we have a party that does not have an Ndebele in a substantive
leadership position".

            Food for thought.

            Albert Mlambo




            End is nigh for Zanu PF mob
                  I HAVE always wondered whether government supporters have
any grey matter in their heads. Are they controlled by a mob spirit
mentality for all their actions?

                  Events that took place during the Zanu PF congress in
Matabeleland reinforce my conclusion that the party's supporters are

                  They vocally pushed their party to persecute
Non-Governmental Organisations that are perceived as working against the
Zanu PF government.

                  For advocating for a new and democratic constitution,
independent newspapers are wrongfully thought to be supporting those against
the government.

                  Only brain dead people can bite the hand that feeds them.
Non-Governmental Organisations have been helping Zimbabweans with food and

                  These organisations have not been discriminating in their
distribution of food and medical drugs as the ruling party has been doing
over the years.

                  Advocates of a new, democratic constitution are not doing
so for one party, one ethnic grouping or one section of the country but they
are fighting for all political parties, all ethnic groups in this country
and for Zimbabwe as a whole.

                  Without independent newspapers three quarters of
Zimbabweans would have gone crazy reading only the government praise-singing
newspapers, and watching and listening to our mediocre television and radio.

                  Lack of balanced reporting has destroyed the reasoning  of
Zanu PF supporters.

                  What these praise singers fail to realise is that what is
being done today to persecute the opposition will one day be used against

                  A glaring example is the case of Jonathan Moyo, whose
tongue seems to have been gagged by the very legislations he pushed through
Parliament. Many of the country's law breakers are Zanu PF supporters.

                    I would like to warn these law breakers that the day of
reckoning is just around the corner.

                  Let us not hear them howling and screaming for the
non-governmental organisations, independent newspapers, independent radios,
and others to publicise their pending just desserts. Be warned.




                        Chihwayi must back his claims with concrete proof
                              THIS is an open letter directed to Kurauone
Chihwayi, whose letter that was headlined (Arthur) Mutambara is just what
the doctor ordered cannot go unchallenged.

                              While I do not deny that President Robert
Mugabe's time is up, I found your claims that "Mutambara is a tried and
tested revolutionary" difficult to accept.

                              I think you need to support your claims with
evidence for the benefit of people like me who didn't know Mutambara until
February this year.

                              I am 21 and a university student and I didn't
know Mutambara until recently, so I was a little bit surprised to hear that
he was taking over the leadership of the MDC.

                              What has Mutambara done for him to be called a

                              What was he successful in? Almost every
Zimbabwean knows what Morgan Tsvangirai has achieved from the late 1980's
and it will be a waste of time to go into detail about that. Mutambara is
yet to gain reasonable support for him to stand the ground in Zimbabwean

                              Can we truly say Tsvangirai is taking the
people of Zimbabwe for a ride when he is not the leader of a country, unlike

                              Tafadzwa Njovana

                              Defining the true leader
                                REAL leaders are not defined by their good
oratory skills and charisma

                                Real leaders are not defined by their
impressive academic track records

                                Real leaders are defined by drawing strong
crowds at venues like the Zimbabwe grounds and the city sports centre

                                Real leaders are not defined by the number
of press conferences they address

                                Real leaders are defined by sympathising
with the people at Whitecliff after catastrophes like Operation

                                Real leaders are not defined by their
liberation war credentials

                                Real leaders are defined by sticking to
matters of principle even if it means "violating" the party's constitution
for the benefit of the masses

                                Real leaders are not defined by holding
lavish birthday parties when millions are starving

                                Real leaders are defined by walking to work
thus showing solidarity with the millions that cannot access fuel on the
black market
                                You all know who the real leader is!

                                Tatenda B Kunaka

                                University of Zimbabwe

                              Farmers a let down

                              THE once thriving areas of farming in the
countryside now lie idle.

                              Trees and grasses of all kinds now grow taller
than expected where crops once flourished.

                              In the case of the Middle Save, the land that
used to accommodate workers in their thousands remains unproductive.

                              The State gave land to the new settlers to
feed the nation,but the result is starvation. We should blame those who were
given the land but have betrayed the expectation that they would put it to
productive use.

                              Livestock and wild animals live on natural
plants and other animals but human beings have to work for their living.

                              Tennyson Marwa

                              Mutema High School



                              MDC owes late MP

                              THE MDC participated in the 2005 Parliamentary

                              Now that their MP for Budiriro has died, the
party should honour him for his fight against Zanu PF injustice by
participating in future by-elections in this constituency.

                              This seat must be retained by the MDC in order
to appease the fighting spirit of the late MP.

                              Nothing could be a greater honour for this
fallen hero than the MDC retaining the seat

                              On the  issue of withdrawing sitting MDC MPs
from Parliament, I believe they should be allowed to complete their terms
because they had the blessing of the party and the electorate when they were
elected during the 2005 Parliamentary elections.

                              May God bless Morgan Tsvangirai's wise

                              D R Mutungagore


                              Atrocious commentary

                              THE standard of soccer commentary on both
Radio Zimbabwe and Spot FM is poor.

                              I was listening to Spot FM's commentary during
the match between Highlanders and Dynamos at Barbourfields Stadium the other
day, and was shocked by Skumbuzo Moyo.

                              He was almost crying.

                              It was also clear that he is a Bosso fan.

                               Philemon Mhlanga as well as Lee Nkala and
others should not provide the commentary.

                              Charles Mabika and Stanley Katsande are not
doing a thorough job of it.

                              A Mahko


                              Mutambara is already messing up big time
                                I AM disturbed by the antics of Arthur
Mutambara. In the few weeks he has been in mainstream politics, Mutambara
has already messed up big time.

                                This is surprising coming from someone who
is very educated. Maybe this is proof that true leadership is not based on
intellectual prowess but on good character. A good leader must be
consistent, honest, humble and respectful. Indeed it is these traits that
have made people like Mother Theresa and Nelson Mandela icons.

                                Unfortunately, Mutambara has patently
exhibited lack of these qualities since he was appointed leader of the MDC
pro-Senate faction. He has positioned himself as a unifier of the two MDC
factions. I expect this role to be carried out by neutrals such as church
organizations, Crisis Coalition of Zimbabwe and the National Constitutional

                                Mutambara is far from being an honest
broker, for he harbours an intention to become President of a united MDC.
Therefore, to him the pro-Senate faction is a mere stepping-stone to the
fulfilment of his dream. Viewed this way, his association with Welshman
Ncube and others is not sincere. It is actually opportunistic.

                                The clean man here is David Coltart, who has
chosen to remain non-aligned so that both camps can hear him. In his
acceptance speech, Mutambara publicly distanced himself from his
benefactors. It is on record that the faction he now leads has been
lampooning and vilifying Morgan Tsvangirai since the 12 October fallout.

                                Now, for him to describe Tsvangirai as his
hero and, furthermore, to declare his anti-Senate stance on a pro-Senate
stage is as good as biting the hand that feeds him. I would have expected
Mutambara to privately convince his colleagues of his position so that they
speak with one voice.

                                At the Bulawayo congress there was no such
unison taking into consideration Gibson Sibanda's vitriol against
Tsvangirai. If Mutambara had consulted his colleagues first, he would have
demonstrated the sincerity of his claim that had he been a member of the
then MDC National Council, he would have tried hard to convince fellow
members of the weight of his position and, on failing to do so, he would
have stuck with the majority decision at the expense of his own opinion.

                                It therefore appears that Mutambara
conveniently uttered that statement in order to project himself as more
democratic than Tsvangirai.

                                Mutambara calls himself "untainted" and
hence suitable to take over the reins of opposition power. This is a
"holier-than-thou" attitude. It smacks of total disrespect for those who
went ahead of him in fighting against the oppressive system in Zimbabwe.

                                I find Mutambara's anti-imperialism rhetoric
nauseating, especially coming from someone with such international exposure.
His stance is anachronistic at a time of globalisation and international
partnerships such as Nepad. I quote Dr Simba Makoni: "The world does not
need Zimbabwe. It is Zimbabwe who needs the world."

                                Once again, it is obvious that Mutambara's
obsession with imperialism is personal and hence not representative of his
constituency. So much for his democratic credentials! The pro-Senate faction
should rein in its President now to avoid further embarrassment.

                                I have also read that Mutambara was recently
on the rampage, vowing to "destroy" Tsvangirai. This is the height of
inconsistency further entrenching the view that the man is arrogant and
power-hungry. Why spew venom against your own "hero"?

                                We have had enough of people like President
Robert Mugabe and Professor Jonathan Moyo who use their intelligence for
self-aggrandisement. History must not keep on repeating itself. Taneta!

                                Max Makoni


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