Zimbabwe businessman rearrested
By Peta Thornycroft in
A BUSINESSMAN released on bail after 27
days in solitary confinement in a
Zimbabwe jail was rearrested less than 24
hours later when he reported to a
Simon Spooner, the
owner of a small chemical company in Bulawayo, who gave
up his Australian
citizenship to take Zimbabwean nationality, was a polling
agent for the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change in last year's
election when it
came close to beating the ruling Zanu-PF party of President
Last month he was charged with the murders of government
supporters based on
the alleged confessions of two MDC supporters. But at Mr
application in Bulawayo High Court, both men said that they
tortured into making the statements.
Mr Spooner, who had been
released on bail of £1,250, also forfeited the
title deeds to his home. His
wife, Gail, 42, said that her husband had not
considered absconding during
his 20 hours of freedom, despite the fact that
conditions inside the maximum
security jail were "appalling" and he had lost
said: "Simon would never have broken his bail conditions, it
crossed his or my mind. Contrary to prison regulations, Mrs
Spooner was only
allowed to see her husband twice in prison, for five
minutes and 30
Another 13 MDC members, all charged with the same murders, are
being held in
the same prison. Among them is the MP Fletcher Dilini-Ncube,
61, who was
denied bail on Friday. He is a diabetic whose sight has
Mrs Spooner said: "The conditions in
prison are appalling. The MDC detainees
do not get enough food; they are not
allowed to receive the meals we take
them, or paper to write on; they have no
visits, and they are in solitary
confinement. But Simon has this
extraordinary faith that eventually justice
will be done."
their children, Kylie and Samantha, 10-year-old twins, were
only by their father's incarceration but by the barrage of
accusations in the
state media in which their father is called a terrorist.
COMMERCIAL FARMERS' UNION
Farm Invasions and Security Report
This report does not purport to cover all the
incidents that are taking place in the commercial farming areas. Communication
problems and the fear of reprisals prevent farmers from reporting all that
happens. Farmers names, and in some cases farm names, are omitted to minimise
the risk of reprisals.
NATIONAL REPORT IN BRIEF
Central-“warvet” breaks into private house and takes up residence
– House ransacked for third time by masked men
Mashonaland East - workers
threatened with death if they continued working
Mashonaland West (South) –
ploughing undertaken by settlers in defiance of the DA and the Lands Committee.
Mashonaland West (North) – Youths removed from farms for
Horseshoe – at
Amajuba on 07.12.01 all workers were still on strike. The labour force is
demanding payment of gratuities and immediate re-employment thereafter. Daily
losses of fresh fruit crops, not being harvested, are running to hundreds of
thousands of Zimbabwe dollars. A “Warvet” broke into a private house on Mapetu
and is now living there. On Makombe, 09.12.01, hunters with dogs have killed a
third sable in the fenced game area and the meat taken away. Three thieves who
had stolen bananas were apprehended and taken to ZRP on Manovi while on
Siyalima “warvets“ continue to steal tobacco
Mutare - on Brooksville the owner’s house was
ransacked for the third time by seven masked men on Friday night. The police
reacted within 45 minutes and brought out the dog unit, but so far they have
been unsuccessful in apprehending anyone.
Rusape - Ongoing activity on
Masvingo - East and Central area –
Ballinahorne Farm - Owner has received a Section 8 order over the
Chiredzi – Poaching and snaring continues as does ploughing and
clearing of lands.
Mwenezi – Continued theft, poaching, snaring, tree cutting
and ploughing throughout the area. FA Chairman reports that the people doing
the voter registration are informing farm workers that they should be earning
Two more property owners on Wentzehof and Merrivale Ranches,
received Section 8 Orders last week.
Save Conservancy – Situation remains
Gutu\Chatsworth – Continued harassment with
MASHONALAND WEST (SOUTH)
Norton – Parklands farm, a very big
producer of seed, no planting has been allowed, despite the farm being
Selous – On Mara farm ploughing is being undertaken by settlers, in
defiance of the DA and the Lands Committee, and despite the fact that the farm
General – GAPWUZ representatives have been on several properties
making demands on behalf of the work force and threatening mass
MASHONALAND WEST (NORTH)
Ayrshire – Security
Trelawney\Darwendale – Theft of anything unguarded on the increase;
irrigation equipment on the farms, and electrical goods at housebreak
Banket – Theft of irrigation equipment rampant
Nyabira – Bitton
Estate stopped from planting last week.
Umboe – Much poaching reported. Only
5 out of 24 tobacco crops are planted.
Chinhoyi – On Lauretan Farm a cow was
killed by a blow to the head with an axe, which was then left lodged in the
beasts’ head. However, the meat was not taken and indications are that it was a
message for the farmer and others nearby to move their cattle off farm.
Magog Farm received a letter telling him to move his cattle off the
Doma – a great deal of snaring and fishing taking place by settlers. A
problem arose on Mcherengi Farm on Friday 7th December, about the movement of a
fence, but the situation was defused this morning.
On Victory Estate the
settlers created a work stoppage, because they wanted transport to go and check
their names in the constituency registry.
Karoi -Much poaching in the
district but the ZRP has sent an anti poaching unit into the area.
four farms in the Sapi Valley area had their youth taken from the farm villages
over the weekend for re-education.
Tengwe - Theft a big problem on settled
General - Throughout the province destruction of trees is reported.
Pegging for the A2 Scheme taking place all over Karoi North, mainly in 50 ha
Beatrice - Groenfontein received a letter in
the post making demands to be met yesterday. A tractor was burnt- illegal
Alemaine- the owner was allowed to return to his farm and
remove personal household belongings. Farm equipment had to remain including
Xekene -The farm has been divided into medium scale commercial
Featherstone - Kuruman - A dairy cow was axed and milking only is
Harvieston - The owner had a visit from Gumbo C.I.O. Chivu. The
owner was told he could now plant. The following day Gumbo arrived again wanting
Marondera North - Nyagambi -Visit from Chief Executive Officer of
Zanu P.F. Mashonaland East, Peter Mawira, and the workers were threatened with
death if they continued working. All the workers have to be off the farm by
22\12. The farm has no Section 8 Order.
Summerset - house broken into and
the owner was beaten up, with wooden fencing standard . He needed 6 stitches
Suspect criminal activity.
Marondera South - Extensive cattle movement,
planting and poaching throughout the area.
Enterprise/Bromley/Ruwa - Agritex
and DDF tractors active on numerous farms.
Harare South - Dunluce - A 7 ton
Nissan vehicle, arrived carrying 25 passengers who pulled out 2ha. Tobacco
seedlings. The owner spoke to them and was informed Luston Karonga had sent
them. They then stopped pulling out seedlings and one of them spoke to Karonga
on his return whereupon they recommenced work on the seedlings. On a different
land half a hectare of planted seedling were pulled, on the instruction of
Karonga. The police arrived in the evening but did nothing.
Auks Nest - A
white Nissan arrived with 15 people who cultivated their land. Chidagwa spoke to
the foreman and told him to organise the workers to share their homes with the
settlers. The foreman refused to help. A Landini ploughed most of Saturday night
near the owners house. On Sunday the Landini ploughed a different field. There
were no DDF. markings on the Tractor. Kinfauns -A tractor driver was severely
assaulted by 2 war vets, Richard Marimo & Tongogara. The police gave R.R.B.
no 009773 but did nothing.
Macheke Virginia - Malda Farm - While the owner
was away the 3 youngsters looking after the farm were given a difficult time.
The fence was broken into and they were barricaded in the house whilst a lot of
banging on doors and windows took place. The police were called and finally
arrived. The inspector accused the minders of causing the problems by riding
their motorcycles around the farm. He accused them of manufacturing fire arms
and searched the house, going through drawers and a contact lens container. They
were accused of harbouring farm workers in the house. Farm workers are not
allowed into their own houses, and their belongings have been thrown out of the
houses onto the road. None of the workers are allowed to work including
Wedza - No report received
General : Property
owners are starting to receive Section 8 Orders. Crime in general is ongoing and
aggressive behaviour is starting to escalate. Workers are beginning to become
restive regarding the uncertainty about wages and in at lest one case
No report received.
The opinions in this message do
not necessarily reflect those of the Commercial Farmers' Union which does not
accept any legal responsibility for them.
The Irish Times
Mugabe makes Zimbabwe an international
Mugabe, facing a presidential election after 18 months of
violence, now sees himself as the victim of an international
writes Iden Wetherell
Peering through her looking-glass over a century and a
quarter after her
fictional debut, Lewis Carroll's Alice would have no
the upside-down world that Zimbabwe's President Robert
Mugabe has created to
sustain his campaign for political survival.
evening television news bulletin carries a CNN-style banner headed
Terrorism". The terrorism referred to is not the violence spawned
armed supporters on farms across the country or their attacks on
society workers, teachers, and independent newspaper vendors, but
activities of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
backed by Britain.
Following 18 months of relentless
state-sponsored lawlessness which has
turned Zimbabwe into an international
pariah, Mugabe's spin doctors have
embarked on a strategy which involves
turning reality on its head.
A presidential poll is due before April and
Mugabe (77) is treating it as a
battle for the very soul of the
The MDC, which has eschewed violence despite every provocation
scrupulously adhered to a legal system that the President has
subverted, now finds itself branded a terrorist movement
responsible for the
anarchy sweeping the country.
Behind this campaign
of instability, it is claimed, looms the old imperial
bogeyman, Britain. Not
only is Tony Blair's government held responsible for
by backing the MDC, it is accused of mobilising the
United States Congress,
the European Union, the Commonwealth and Southern
African heads of state to
thwart Mugabe's programme of land redistribution.
Following the passage
through the United States Congress of the Zimbabwe
Democracy and Recovery
Bill last week, Information Minister Jonathan Moyo
described the MDC as "a
movement for anti-people sanctions operating under
the guise of democracy and
the rule of law as defined and dictated by racist
Americans and Britons".
Moyo's mouthpiece, the government-owned Herald daily
named MDC president
Morgan Tsvangirai and his lieutenants as having "set the
stage for the
massacre of their own people".
These "Uncle Toms shall be judged by
history for the evil they have
unleashed upon the people of Zimbabwe", the
paper menacingly warned.
Taking up the official line, Police Commissioner
Augustine Chihuri said his
force would not tolerate those who were "working
in collusion with, and as
admirers of, imperialist forces bent on
destabilising our country". Police
have arrested over 25 MDC supporters in
recent weeks, including two MPs, for
involvement in "terrorism" despite a
conspicuous lack of evidence.
Some are accused of abducting and killing a
prominent veteran of Zimbabwe's
liberation war, Cain Nkala. But his threat to
spill the beans on his
involvement in the disappearance of an MDC campaign
manager ahead of last
June's general election could provide a more likely
explanation for his
Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary Jack
Straw must be congratulating
himself on a global reach that Lord Palmerston
would have envied. But the
truth is rather less awesome. Mugabe is the sole
author of the predicament
he now finds himself in.
The US Congress,
EU, Commonwealth and Southern African Development
Community, which includes
neighbouring South Africa, have all, for different
reasons, been reluctant to
implement measures against the rogue regime in
Harare. But Mugabe has ensured
they all now think alike.
Instead of restoring the rule of law his
followers have hounded the Chief
Justice and other independent-minded judges
into retirement and replaced
them with more pliant individuals, two of whom
have reportedly been
recipients of land under the current partisan
The police have been suborned into taking
action only against opposition
supporters while ignoring the ruling Zanu-PF
party's record of terror and
mayhem. And electoral laws have been changed to
limit potential voters in
the 18-30 age group, including the burgeoning
diaspora, who are most likely
to support the MDC.
Last week the
government published details of a new media law that will make
it an offence
to cause "alarm and despondency" or to excite disaffection
President - including by ridiculing him. It will also prevent
details about the fortunes amassed by the ruling nomenklatura
independence in 1980 and prohibit non-Zimbabwean foreign
working in the country.
None of this suggests a ruler safely ensconced in
the affections of his
people. Rather it reveals that after 21 years of
declining gross domestic
product, falling living standards and institutional
have had enough of Mugabe's damaging
Land seizures are expected to result in a 40 per cent
decline in crop
production next year. Already parts of the country need
supplies to head off starvation.
President Thabo Mbeki is the latest regional leader to
failed policies, a criticism that has led to a stream of
vitriol in the official media.
When voters last year rejected Mugabe's
constitutional proposals which would
have legitimised his absolutist regime,
and then came close to booting
Zanu-PF out in the parliamentary election, the
President decided he would
punish the opposition and their perceived white
backers in precisely the way
he punished Matabeleland in the 1980s when he
unleashed the North
Korean-trained Fifth Brigade on the dissident province.
That episode left at
least 10,000 dead.
Whether his latest campaign of
terror will have the same impact remains to
be seen. But in setting his
war-veteran militias on law-abiding people and
persecuting those - probably a
majority - who wish to vote against him next
year he is only sealing his own
Twenty-one years ago Mugabe was hailed in Africa and abroad as
revolutionary hero who had wisely made peace with his former
Only 10 years ago he was seen as the man who provided
healthcare to the rural poor. Today he is, in Archbishop
words, a caricature of the delinquent African ruler who has
lost his way.
Comforting himself with the thought that he is the victim
international conspiracy and locked in the ideological mindset of an
long since past, Mugabe is grimly holding on to power because he
imagine a future without it.
(Iden Wetherell is editor of the
SAIIA Warns of War in Zimbabwe
South African Press Association
December 9, 2001
Posted to the web December 10,
The Zimbabwe crisis could deteriorate to a point
where that country could
become "another battlefield like the Democratic
Republic of Congo", the
South African Institute of International Affairs
(SAIIA) has warned.
In a critical and frank assessment of the political
situation brewing in
South Africa's northern neighbour, SAIIA deputy chairman
Moeletsi Mbeki said
the time had come for more drastic measures to defuse the
One of the ways this could be achieved, he said, was for
South Africa to
pull Zimbabwe's economic plug.
Speaking on SABC's
newsmaker programme on Sunday, the day before a Southern
Community (SADC) ministerial task force meeting in
Harare, Mbeki said he did
not think the meeting would make any difference.
SADC ministers are
flying into the Zimbabwean capital on Monday to review
and deliberate on
political and economic developments in that country.
But Mbeki warned
SADC was "a very weak organisation", and many of its member
states did not
have the "muscle" to stand up to Zimbabwe.
It would be up to South Africa
to take the initiative.
"South Africa is the one country that is going to
be hurt the most by the
Zimbabwe crisis, so it is the country that has to
take most of the action."
One example of the South African government's
failure to act was "the whole
issue of the electricity bill
"There's been comings and goings about the (electricity) debt
owed to South
"But instead of pulling the plug, South Africa
has looked for ways of, for
example, turning the debt into equity, or
becoming a shareholder in the
Zimbabwean electricity supply.
overall perception on the Zimbabwean side is that the South
government is weak -- from 1996 to now this has been the perception
mind of Zimbabweans."
He said the time had come for more
drastic measures on the part of South
"You know, most of
Zimbabwe's trade goes through South Africa. We must be
their biggest trading
"So we can stop the Zimbabwean economy tomorrow if we wanted to.
We have the
Asked if this would be in South Africa's best
interests, he said: "I suspect
it will, because if the (Zimbabwean)
government is not able to deliver a
modicum of welfare to its population,
then there is only one way of staying
in government, and that's through
Asked to comment on the prospects of free and fair elections in
next year, he said the ruling Zanu (PF) "invasion" of Bulawayo two
ago -- by so-called war veterans, who burnt down opposition party
had been a "dress rehearsal" for 2002.
definitely not be free and fair.
"I understand the Libyans have moved
elements of their military there, and
the Angolans are sending small-arms to
Zimbabwe to arm the militias that
Zanu (PF) is training.
like there is preparation for a major onslaught against the
against the supporters of the opposition movement,"
Zimbabwe had been interfering in the affairs of other
countries in the
region -- its involvement in the Democratic Republic of the
Congo was an
example of this -- and although it enjoyed the support of
countries such as
Angola and Libya, it also had enemies.
could, in fact, become another battlefield like the DRC, with
armies from all
over the place slogging it out. Because if there's a
firefight in Zimbabwe,
you can't expect Rwanda and the countries that are
opposed to Zimbabwe not to
take advantage of that situation."
Mbeki said the South African
government had a long history of doing nothing
in the face of provocation by
Zimbabwe's Zanu (PF) government.
"So in a way it has backed itself into a
corner where it is now difficult
for it to do anything."
He cited as
an example of this President Robert Mugabe's handover of the
"He handed over the chairmanship to former president Nelson
kept the committee on security and politics.
turns up, according to articles in that country's Herald newspaper,
the view of the Zimbabweans they didn't think the South African
was in any case legitimate enough to look after the security of
In the eyes of the Zimbabwean government, there was a
with the South African government.
South Africa had made was to allow this situation to "fester
to allow former president Nelson Mandela to take over the
"without forcing Zimbabwe either to be kicked out of SADC, or
South Africa to
Asked what he thought would happen if Zimbabwe President
Robert Mugabe won
next year's election, he said in his view the situation
would get "worse and
"The only way he can win is if the
elections are not free and fair, and all
indications are that they will not
"I think the United States and the European Union will impose
South Africa will have to do something; and the situation in
deteriorate," he said.
-- On Tuesday last week, the US
House of Representatives passed legislation
allowing the imposition of
sanctions against Zimbabwe, including personal
sanctions against Mugabe and
his ruling elite.
The Age, Melbourne
Zimbabwe opposition wants non-violence pact with
HARARE, Dec 10 AFP|Published: Tuesday December 11, 12:08
The leader of Zimbabwe's main opposition party said his party
and the ruling
party of President Robert Mugabe should sign a non-violence
pact ahead of
next year's presidential elections.
"I am prepared to
share the stage with Mugabe and publicly denounce violence
which is now
prevalent on the Zimbabwean political scene," said the Movement
Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
"If it means signing an
agreement then I am prepared to do that," Tsvangirai
was quoted by the
private Daily News as telling a rally yesterday in
He accused supporters of the governing Zimbabwe Africa National
Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) of provoking MDC.
"We want our
supporters to avoid being drawn into committing acts of
A local rights body, the Human Rights Foundation, last week claimed
report that at least 32 people have been killed this year alone in
violence and as many as 42,711 internally displaced.
HRF, which groups non-governmental organisations who assist victims
organized violence, said most of the violence was committed by
supporters but the MDC was also to blame.
Last year at least
34 people were killed in the political violence
surrounding the parliamentary
polls in which the opposition won nearly half
of the contested
Tsvangirai is expected to pose the stiffest challenge to Mugabe
presidential elections due to take place by April.
Zimbabwe launches furious attack on
HARARE, Dec. 10 — Zimbabwe launched a furious attack on
power Britain on Monday for opposing its controversial land
mobilising international sanctions against the government of
Speaking at the start of a visit by a six-member
ministerial team from the
14-nation Southern African Development Community
(SADC), Foreign Minister
Stan Mudenge said no amount of foreign interference
would halt the often
violent land reform plan.
is opening up the programme for ''audit'' by the
regional ministers, but
Mudenge's remarks made it clear this was unlikely to
change or slow down the
drive to seize white-owned farms.
Mudenge called on African states to
rally behind Mugabe, saying
Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party was fighting for
the interests of the black
majority against Western interests that backed
white colonial rule in the
Mudenge said the SADC
team was in Harare ''not to sit as monitors or
judges,'' which would be
interference in its affairs, but because Harare
believed Africa would offer
support in the face of rising external pressure
being mobilised by
''As regards our problem with Britain, we are dealing with
of justice with regard to land,'' Mudenge said.
being opposed for not accepting the mini-dosages of justice
being offered our
people, when in fact doing so would perpetuate the
deprivation of our
''We are told that if we delay the process of land delivery to
people we would be embraced by the civilised world. It is precisely
type of civilisation that we reject,'' he said.
NO SUPPORT FOR
Lilian Patel, the Malawi foreign minister and head of the
opened the talks saying the regional economic bloc was greatly
about the situation in Zimbabwe.
''We are here as your
friends because we are greatly concerned about
the situation here,'' she
''We do not support sanctions (against Zimbabwe).''
The Commonwealth will meet within two weeks to discuss a possible
against Zimbabwe. The U.S. House of Representatives has endorsed a
threatens sanctions to press Mugabe to ensure free and fair
establish land ownership protections in Zimbabwe.
''We also have to
deal with various hostile actions taken by Britain,
as well as that country's
forked-tongue language on democracy,'' Mudenge
He urged the
SADC ministers, some of whom appeared startled by his
speech while others
betrayed no emotions, to be wary that the West's
response to the Zimbabwe
situation ''could form a greater threat to our
Farmers and other critics say Mugabe has largely ignored
Nigerian-brokered plan he endorsed in September to end the farm seizures
exchange for funds from Britain and other sources to implement a fair
reform plan including financial compensation.
farmers have been killed, scores of black farm workers
have been assaulted
and thousands displaced since pro-government militants
white-owned farms in February last year in support of
Political analysts say Mugabe, in power since independence in
is using the land programme in a campaign to retain power in elections
by April 2002.
Zimbabwe ready to risk isolation
Zimbabwe says it will not bow to outside
pressure by stopping plans to seize
Minister Stan Mudenge is warning neighbouring countries against
governments which are calling for sanctions.
He says Britain and their
Western allies are behind a campaign to turn
"There can be no sanctions smart enough to affect Zimbabweans
destinies are intertwined," warned Mr Mudenge.
Congress last week passed a bill proposing controls on American aid
investment in Zimbabwe, and a freeze on loans and debt relief.
was in protest against a breakdown in law and order since March
armed ruling party militants began seizing white-owned farms.
European Union is also proposing punitive measures.
South Africa is one
of several southern African nations that have expressed
political turmoil could affect the entire region.
Zimbabwe Opposition Wins Mayoral Poll
10, 2001 3:50 PM
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - Zimbabwe's main opposition
won weekend mayoral
elections in a former ruling party stronghold, striking a
sharp blow to
President Robert Mugabe in a district near his home and
Francis Dhlakama of the Movement for Democratic Change won
2,900 votes cast
Saturday and Sunday in the farming and textile center of
Chegutu, 70 miles
southwest of Harare, state radio reported.
Majiri of Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party captured 2,452 votes. A
5,596 ballots were cast, a turnout of about 27 percent of
Chegutu lies 25 miles from Mugabe's birthplace and
rural home in Zvimba,
neighboring districts long seen as among the most loyal
to his party.
The opposition party said its victory showed voters'
resilience in the face
of intimidation and violence by ruling party
``It confirms the quiet but devastating losses being
suffered by ZANU-PF,''
said MDC spokesman Learnmore Jongwe.
reinforcements were sent Saturday in Chegutu to quell clashes between
Jongwe said the violence started after ruling party
Dhlakama's home. No response was immediately available from
Earlier this year, the opposition won mayoral
elections in the western
provincial capital of Bulawayo and the southern
capital of Masvingo.
Mayoral elections in the capital, Harare, must be
held before Feb. 11, ahead
of national presidential polls before late
The opposition won nearly half the elected seats in parliament in
dominating Harare and most urban districts. The ruling party held
its rural strongholds.
An opposition victory in the Harare
mayoral election would be seen as a
major psychological boost for the party,
which is mounting the biggest
challenge to Mugabe's hold on power since he
led the nation to independence
Daily News - Feature
Tighten your seat belts for this imaginary
12/10/01 6:54:21 AM (GMT +2)
Candid talk with
THIS shall be a flight of imagination. I shall be piloting you
the short trip of imagination. Welcome aboard. All passengers are
to have their litter-bags handy as some of the sights may make
those of a
human-disposition sick. Some of the sights may not be as sightly
of a sovereign nation.
Tighten your belts as the
imaginary flight is full of empty stomachs.
Tighten them even more as the
imaginary ride may be turbulent. Remain seated
in your seats of imagination
as the flight prepares to take off.
Do not blame the pilot for a bumpy
take-off. It is due to the economy that
has wandered away in its imagination.
Do not blame the government of the day
for the poor state of the imaginary
airport, the British have taken away our
spirit of creativity.
imaginary flight shall have hostile flight attendants. Brace yourself
worst of hospitality. This flight seemingly employs hostile
apologise for the hostile treatment though. It is through
the making of the
British. You can imagine how contriving these former
In this imaginary flight, you shall be served cold sadza in the hope
you will be able to see the badness of the colonialists. You shall
fermented marula juice to quench your imaginary flight of
Imagine now that we have taken off and we are safely cruising
at a safe
altitude. I do not suppose you are imagining some cruise missile
bring us down. This is not supposed to be an ill-fated flight. The
of the Taliban firing us down should be removed from your
is a secure flight that cannot be detected by the most
systems. No-one can derail this flight of imagination. No
hi-jack us. We are beyond human error and failure. We are safe
Now the flight is taking us over some sprawling
suburban complex. You can
give it any name. You can call it Kabul. You can
call it Chitungwiza. You
can call it Hwange or even Kandahar. It is your
imagination that counts. It
is also your knowledge of current affairs that
In all your imagination, never imagine the sprawling place to be
out of this
small world. Now let us look closely in the sprawling township
whatever is taking place.
It could be a mistake but our
collective imagination shows us the strife.
There is no semblance of
peace and justice. The situation is a dog eat dog
affair. There are small
battles of domination here and there. There are
fires burning menacingly due
to some houses having been torched hither and
The battle zone
of lawlessness is showing in our maiden flight of
imagination. Those who are
down there are feeling the squeeze. The
perpetrators of strife are pressing
even more. Their ultimate goal is to
capture the fruit tree that will bear
fruits towards autumn. They are
fighting tooth and nail for the "autumn
Then we imaginarily fly past this suburb as most of you are
repulsed by the
stench from the rotting flesh of the people. As if the stench
of the rotting
people murdered for some flimsy reason is not enough, the air
is putrid with
the smelly commands of some self-styled warlords. As the
warlords bark an
imaginary instruction on their lieutenants, the air becomes
stinking foul breath. This flight of imagination cannot hover
place for a moment longer. Let us leave this sore sight. We can
that our imaginations are pushing too much to the
We are now above some well-vegetated place. We cannot clearly see
branches of the leafy trees. We have to call upon more of our
order to see what is happening there. We imagine ourselves
being shown hell
The Taliban are in town, I mean the forest.
They have set base and are busy
educating the uneducated. In our imagination,
we can safely see that the
uneducated are not the illiterate but the subdued
opponents of the Taliban.
We can only imagine that the education camp is
to re-orient those that would
normally oppose the Sharia law. It is a sad
sight of imagination to imagine
those terror camps. It is disgusting. The
students of the school of
re-orientation are dishevelled and half-starved.
Their only hope is that
they should come out of the school alive. We can
imagine that the survival
rate at the school is less than 50 percent. The
school seems to have run out
of chalk again.
There are no boards, no
slates and no books to write on. In their
creativeness, the school masters
have devised a novel method of imprinting
their syllabus on their students.
The masters use sticks and sjamboks on the
bare backs of their students. The
result is some permanent imprint on the
back of the re-oriented
We can only imagine that the students are given pain-killers
before they are
subjected to the exercise. Some of the learning stints we
observe would need an experimental man in the mould of one doctor
untested methods of anaesthetics.
Our imagination tells us
that the students are comfortable as they are not
revolting against the
shortage of chalk, boards, slates and paper. In our
solemn imagination, we
remember the students at our own campuses. Those
students would make noise at
anything. These imaginary students are
frightfully docile and receptive to
the sick instructions of the "Taliban".
They are truly patriots who have
been subdued both in flesh and in spirit.
The passengers on the maiden
flight of imagination are not impressed. They
are trying hard to imagine
seeing the best there is to be offered by this
great country to no avail.
They see nothing worth mentioning as good. Of
course, there is the
sovereignty to mention. It is the best thing there is
down there. Zimbabweans
are a sovereign nation.
The signs of sovereignty are showing boldly.
There is blood being spilt for
the preservation of the sovereignty. There is
an imagined enemy that is
being fought. The imagined enemy is about to take
away that sovereignty, so
we are made to understand. It is a pity that in our
own flight of
imagination, we cannot see the threat of the golden
sovereignty. Perhaps we
are blinded by our imagination!
We try hard to
put our imagination a gear up. Then on it occurs to us that
it is the
imagination of the real that is seeing their reign, not
challenged by the imaginary. It dawns upon our
imagination that there is also
fear in the hearts of those who cause fear
and turmoil on others.
then imagine that sovereignty and the training schools, or is it
re-orientation schools go hand in hand. It is fear that has borne the
to re-educate the people in the Gospel as re-written by the
The imaginary cannot write such a gospel. It is the fear of the
cold, the poverty and the loss of cheap income that frightens
off the real.
We even try to use powerful telescopes of imagination in
our search for the
good. We come up with nothing but goods destined for the
few good citizens.
There is not much for the ordinary. There is only
goodies for the few real
who imagine that it is only themselves who can be
deemed good. We can then
only imagine that the only good there is is the
godly goodness imagined by
the few fat cats. In our flight of imagination, we
call ourselves the thin
rats of poverty. We do not spread bubonic plague. We
are against baboons
dominating the maize fields!
Citizens, we are not
even safe in our imaginations. As we try to figure out
what other good we can
imagine for our country, our imaginary plane is
ordered to land or face
annihilation from intense anti-aircraft fire. We are
told of the imagined
ability to pulverise us by those we imagine to be
Our imagination cannot take flak. We oblige to come down to mother
we land at a disused airstrip of imagination, we are greeted by
imaginary hostility. Our imagination has been subjected to interference
strong party dogma. So we shall then go partying.
Partying is not a
game anymore. It is serious song and dance as if we are
yet to liberate this
The choice is yours. As you imagine your hungry stomachs getting
with nutritious food, do not forget that the power to see through
imagination now rests in the hands of man!
Zanu PF mob besiege offices
12/10/01 7:33:27 AM
Mobs of Zanu PF youths in Epworth on
Thursday ordered hundreds of commuters
off minibuses and forced residents to
attend a demonstration at the local
demanded that the local board issue the residents with
lodgers' cards as
proof of residence so they could register for next year's
Residents said the Zanu PF mobs virtually had free rein in the
suburb as the police did not intervene.
Two weeks ago,
the youths descended on the Methodist Church, ordering
worshippers to attend
a Zanu PF meeting at a war veterans' base in the area.
hundreds of people were forced to attend the demonstration
board's premises, a stone's throw away from the Epworth
Residents were reportedly beaten up by the youths on
Wednesday evening, and
at Chans Shopping Centre on the outskirts of
A man who lives in the Chizungu area of Epworth said: "They
in groups at the shopping centre, using sticks, whips and
"Today (Thursday) from about 5 am, the mobs marched
stopping people from boarding buses to work and warning them
they would be
beaten up if they resisted.
"They wanted everyone to
join a demonstration at the board offices."
In the afternoon of the same
day, a motorist was reportedly forced to pay
$500 before driving through a
roadblock mounted by the youths on the main
road near the Munyuki Shopping
Some of the youths demanded money for beer from members of the
those who could not pay were assaulted.
Daily News - Leader Page
How to avoid a rough ride to the
12/10/01 7:03:13 AM (GMT +2)
adjourned last week, until 18 December, there were sharp
MPs of the two major parties, Zanu PF and the MDC.
To highlight a week of
tension in the House, MDC MPs walked out, while three
of them were evicted
from the House.
All this would seem to presage a Presidential election
campaign in which no
holds are barred. In the House, the sparring between the
comparatively mild, but as we approach the election, the language is
to degenerate to gutter levels.
Even then, some of the
exchanges last week were not compatible with the
august chamber of a country
facing such monumental economic problems, a
truce between the two main
combatants would probably be understandable.
The economy is in a
veritable mess, mismanaged by a government whose
preoccupation with staying
in power now borders on the paranoid.
Again because of the arrogance and
obstinacy of the government, relations
with most of the outside world are
almost frozen. Nearer home, relations
with South Africa and a number of other
Southern African Development
Community members seem headed for the
Yet we have a Cabinet minister insulting the opposition with a
racist remark referring to the days of King Lobengula's struggle
The butt of the remark, David Coltart, had
the decency not to respond
personally, but Paul Themba Nyathi (Gwanda North),
his colleague in the MDC,
let fly with the retort: "That is a stupid remark
from a stupid person."
What is amazing is that the minister himself,
Justice, Legal and
Parliamentary Affairs' Patrick Chinamasa, was not rebuked
or asked to
withdraw the stupid remark.
Chinamasa and the acid-tongued
junior minister, Jonathan Moyo of the
department of information and publicity
in the President's Office, seem to
believe their Non-Constituency status
bestows upon them almost Presidential
privileges in the
Opposition MPs will be forgiven for always wanting to clip their
bring them down to earth with a bump, considering those MPs had to
hard to get into the House.
All of them had to endure violence
on an unprecedented scale to win their
seats. Among their constituents were
the more than 35 people who were killed
during the 2000 campaign.
repeat of this violence is what we must all guard against during
Presidential campaign. It is the main reason many people, in and out
Zimbabwe, believe there ought to be a neutral international presence of
sort to ensure a modicum of freedom and fairness before and during
election next year.
In scoffing at the suggestion of foreign
observers, Zanu PF is deliberately
engaging in selective amnesia. Not
everyone has forgotten what happened
before and during the parliamentary
election last year.
In some constituencies, the opposition candidates
could not campaign,
because the so-called war veterans told them bluntly they
would be risking
their lives if their showed their faces in the
One candidate was fighting for his life in a hospital by
the time the voting
took place, the victim, allegedly, of a mob of the ruling
party's thugs. As
far as that party is concerned, the rules of engagement in
campaign can include the murder of opposition
Zimbabwe cannot afford another bloodbath before the
All the parties involved must swallow their pride,
come together at an
all-stakeholders' conference and agree on a campaign in
which the rules of
engagement outlaw violence.
As the party in power,
Zanu PF must display magnanimity and attend such a
conference. People just
might believe it has at last thrown all its degrees
of violence into the
dustbin out of a genuine desire to save the country
Suspected car-jacker shot and wounded
AM (GMT +2)
THE police shot and seriously
injured a suspected car-jacker and armed
robber at Westgate Shopping Mall in
Harare on Thursday and arrested two
A policeman at the
scene who refused to be named said the car the suspects
were driving, a white
Toyota Corolla, was believed stolen.
The policeman said: "The vehicle was
stolen sometime ago and we had been
looking for it. Today one of my
colleagues trailed the vehicle after
spotting it in town. The men were acting
suspiciously. At Westgate Shopping
Mall, the men followed an old man who was
coming from a bank. My colleague
asked them to stop, but the men dashed into
the car and sped off. But they
did not get far as the driver was shot in the
There were three bullet holes on the door on the driver's side of
and a pool of blood at the scene of the shooting.
Chihambakwe, an eyewitness, said: "All we heard were wheels screeching
then gunshots. The policeman is a sharpshooter - he shot the driver in
leg and not in the head." The injured suspect was rushed to
Hospital while the other two were taken to Harare Central police
Mayoral candidate accuses the ruling party of trying to
12/10/01 7:31:17 AM (GMT +2)
From Sam Munyavi in
VOTING for the election of a new mayor for Chegutu was marked by
turnout, with voters being turned away and attempts to ferry people
outside the town.
An independent candidate in the Chegutu mayoral
election, Charles Chiriva,
attributed the low poll in the two-day mayoral
election to attempts by the
ruling Zanu PF to cheat.
that the ruling party had tried to bring people from the
Chegutu to come and vote.
"We detected 143 people who had been ferried
into Chegutu to vote through
the ward registers and we stopped them," Chiriva
He said two of his polling agents had been threatened by Zanu PF
over the issue.
Stanley Majiri of Zanu PF, Blessing Dhlakama
of the MDC and Chiriva were the
three main candidates for the town's mayoral
By 2pm yesterday, 4 729 people had cast their votes.
Goredema, a ward registrar, said about 90 percent of those turned away
come to vote in wrong wards.
Dhlakama predicted an MDC victory despite
the low turnout.
"We are winning despite the violence and the
intimidation", Dhlakama said.
He blamed Zanu PF for bringing "terror into the
small and quiet town of
Dhlakama's house was attacked by
suspected Zanu PF supporters travelling in
four trucks on Saturday at about
He said: "The people who came to my house were from areas outside
My son was arrested for being at home at the time and the violence
arrest were meant to intimidate me into pulling out of the election
Dhlakama's election agent, Albert Masotsha
Ndhlovu, said the attacks by Zanu
PF supporters started on Friday.
said 10 MDC youths were arrested and are being held in Kwekwe
Majiri, the Zanu PF candidate, could not
be reached for comment although he
was said to be somewhere in the
Polling officers said he had visited polling stations earlier in
Commenting on allegations of intimidation, the MDC's
information and publicity, Learnmore Jongwe, said: "The people
But as has become a pattern, they are speaking under
and violent conditions. Let's await the
Vote counting is scheduled to start at 8am today at Hartley 1
Villagers allege harassment by army
12/10/01 7:29:48 AM
From Energy Bara in Masvingo
SOLDIERS have been
deployed in some of Masvingo's rural areas where they are
terrorising innocent civilians, particularly members of the
The soldiers have been deployed in Zaka and Bikita districts,
villagers claim they have been either harassed or tortured by members
Patrick Mugwagwa, the losing MDC candidate in Zaka East
in the 2000
parliamentary election, was allegedly assaulted by the soldiers
last week at Jerera growth point for his allegiance to the
Mugwagwa sustained injuries to the head and lips. He was treated at
clinic and later discharged. Other soldiers are based at
administrative centre, from where they make forays into the rural
MDC Masvingo provincial chairman, Edmore Marima, said his party
by the presence of the armed soldiers in the rural
He said Mugwagwa was attacked by the soldiers while walking
"We are not aware of the motive behind the attack, but we believe
because of his membership of the MDC," said Marima.
"This is a
deliberate campaign to frighten our members ahead of the
The soldiers are patrolling rural areas and sometimes they
attack people in
beerhalls for no apparent reason.
"We are worried
because members of the opposition have become targets,"
Warrant Officer Gerald Zvidzai, the army spokesman at 4 Brigade in
confirmed the presence of soldiers in the two
Zvidzai said: "Of course, we have soldiers in Bikita, but it
is not a
deployment because there is no threat to security in the area. We
a long-range exercise in the areas to test our new equipment. We
radios and equipment that we are testing."
Zvidzai could not,
however, say how many soldiers were engaged in the
Zanu PF's Masvingo rallies flop
12/10/01 7:28:49 AM
From Our Correspondent in Masvingo
within Zanu PF reared its ugly head again in Masvingo on
Saturday when two
rallies organised by the provincial executive in Bikita
East flopped because
other party members preferred to attend the burial of
Zvobgo, the father of the MP for Masvingo South, Zanu PF stalwart
Cabinet minister, Dr Eddison Zvobgo, died last week.
Zanu PF provincial executive in Masvingo, which is led by Dr
Mumbengegwi, had vowed to go ahead with the rallies despite the
However, the rallies scheduled at Boora and Gangare business
when party supporters did not attend them saying it was
unAfrican to hold
campaign rallies while other party members were in
The latest development has further widened the rift between the
two Zanu PF
warring camps in Masvingo ahead of next year's Presidential
Some Zanu PF youths loyal to the Zvobgo camp had threatened to
rallies arguing that people should learn to respect
Walter Mutsauri is the MP for Bikita East. He was not invited to
because of his loyalty to the Zvobgo camp.
A Zanu PF
official yesterday said: "The rallies were supposed to go ahead as
but people did not turn up. We had tried our best to persuade
see sense and cancel the rallies, but they refused.
"We might have
political differences, but we should learn to unite in times
of crisis. Some
of the youths told us that it was unAfrican to have the
rallies in view of
the funeral of such a prominent person."
Reverend Zvobgo was buried on
Saturday at Shonganiso Mission, a school he
started, about 80 kilometres
south-east of Masvingo town.
The burial was attended by top government
officials who included Emmerson
Mnangagwa, the Speaker of Parliament, the
Ministers of Home Affairs and Zanu
PF national chairman, John Nkomo, and the
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr
Stan Mudenge, and some members of the
Josaya Hungwe, the governor for Masvingo, and Mumbengegwi
did not attend the
Hungwe and Zvobgo are long-standing
political rivals in the province.
Their rivalry has led to the emergence of
Zanu PF factions in Masvingo.
Reverend Zvobgo, 97, died in Masvingo on
Sunday last week following a stroke
and kidney failure.
Tsvangirai demands violence-free election
7:49:15 AM (GMT +2)
By Foster Dongozi
yesterday said the MDC and Zanu PF should sign a
non-violence pact ahead of
next year's Presidential election.
The MDC leader, in an address to more
than 15 000 supporters in Chitungwiza
yesterday, challenged President Mugabe,
his opponent in the election, to
join him in urging their supporters to shun
Tsvangirai said: "I am prepared to share the stage with Mugabe
denounce violence which is now prevalent on the Zimbabwean
If it means signing an agreement, then I am prepared to
But he said he doubted that Mugabe was prepared to publicly speak
"Zanu PF has been trying to provoke members of the
MDC into committing acts
of violence, but our members have refused to be
drawn into that. We want all
our supporters to avoid being drawn into
committing acts of violence,"
Tsvangirai said at the meeting, which was
Responding for the first time to accusations by the government
that the MDC
was responsible for the murder of Bulawayo war veterans' leader
Tsvangirai said Zanu PF had murdered its own member.
Nkala was killed by Zanu PF, but they have the audacity to turn around
say the MDC is a terrorist organisation."
He said Zanu PF would be
haunted by the knowledge that it had killed one of
denounced Police Commissioner, Augustine Chihuri, for his lack of
dealing with political issues pitting MDC and Zanu PF
said: "At least 83 people have died since last year due to lawlessness
not a single person has been convicted for the murders. This is despite
fact that some of the murderers are known to the police.
government will not allow a situation where known thieves and
the streets freely."
Under an MDC government, diligent individuals would
be allowed to work and
prosper, he said.
"We have good examples of
hard workers like Nigel Chanakira and Strive
Masiyiwa, who have proved their
mettle, but we also have some thieves who
are always flashing stolen money."
He did not name those he described as
While the Zanu PF
government had resettled mainly war veterans and civil
servants, he said, an
MDC government would allocate land to all deserving
said: "Land is a precious commodity and all Zimbabweans
The chairperson of the MDC women's wing, Lucia
Matibenga, urged Zimbabweans
to avoid being divided by Zanu PF along tribal
or racial lines.
"Just tell yourselves that you are Zimbabweans and
nothing else," she said.
She said Mugabe, now a preacher of hatred
against the white community, had
enjoyed their patronage until they dumped
"During the Lancaster House talks when Dr Joshua Nkomo was asked
would do if he came into power, he said he would offer land to the
peasants. When Mugabe was asked the same question, he said he would
people jobs because people were not interested in land."
said Mugabe had looked after the interests of whites on land but only
paranoid about them after they dumped him.
Poaching of Wildlife Reaches Alarming Level in
HARARE, December 10 (Xinhuanet) -- The upsurge in
wildlife and habitat loss on farms adjacent to some of
game conservancies in Zimbabwe is threatening protected species
Matabeleland and Masvingo provinces, the Herald newspaper reported
The report said wildlife worth nearly 100 million
dollars (about 1.8 million U.S. dollars) has been lost to
poaching, illegal movement of wildlife, over-hunting,
and commercial poaching in ranches since June this year.
to 50 black rhino have been reportedly either snared or
killed by urban
cartels working with resettled villagers on farms
adjacent to the
conservancies and people from the communal areas.
Cartels of other farmers
were also reportedly airlifting the
trophy through private airstrips to
neighboring countries, while
some villagers have been arrested for alleged
poaching for their
The Department of National Parks
and Wildlife Management
recently launched a probe into allegations of illegal
wildlife, over-hunting and poaching by some farmers.
degenerating situation is threatening the biggest
areas in the world straddling several
countries to the southeast and
southwest of Zimbabwe.
According to the report, the black rhino population
Intensive Protection Zones and conservancies in the country is
under threat from commercial poaching and other factors.
some of the farms adjacent to the wildlife parks areas
have stood as buffer
zones in the past, most of the farms are no
longer sustainable due to
The government has directed that there should be
resettlement within the private conservancies.
However, the white
operators will soon be required to form
partnerships with indigenous
Zimbabweans and run the conservancies
Matetsi Safari area is
a state designated hunting area and
major foreign currency earner for the
safari hunting and tourism
Recent investigations by the
department of national parks have
revealed an increase in levels of poaching
"for the pot". Enditem
Voters' roll in shambles, says Hungwe
AM (GMT +2)
From Energy Bara in Masvingo
JOSAYA Hungwe, the
provincial governor for Masvingo, says the voters' roll
is in shambles and
this will result in voter apathy as people would be
turned away for not
appearing on the roll.
Addressing delegates at a poverty reduction
meeting in Masvingo last week,
Hungwe said the voters' roll was far from
Hungwe said: "Although there is nothing which is perfect,
the truth is the
voters' roll is far from being what it should be. This has
resulted in many
people being turned away from inspecting and there will be a
"The problem is not with the voters, but with the
voters' roll in its
Voter turnout has steadily
declined in Zimbabwe, from 94 percent in 1980 to
84 percent in 1985, to 54
percent in 1990, with a slight rise to 57 percent
Approximately 2,5 million of nearly 5,3 million registered voters
ballots in the June 2000 parliamentary election.
to the Masvingo mayoral election held in May and won by Alois
Chaimiti of the
MDC, Hungwe said there was a low turnout because the voters'
roll was in
"Take the Masvingo mayoral elections, for example, where there
were about 22
000 registered voters only. About 6 000 people voted and the
turned away since their names did not appear on the voters' roll,"
"These are some of the things that have to be rectified
for the promotion of
development and democracy."
remarks come at a time when the inspection of the voters'
roll in preparation
for next year's Presidential election is in progress.
whose last date had been yesterday, has been extended for
another 10 days to
Monday, 10 December, 2001, 18:59 GMT
SADC opposes Zimbabwe sanctions
Mudenge welcomed "African
Southern African ministers have said they do not support sanctions against
Zimbabwe, despite the worsening political crisis in that country.
Malawi's foreign minister, leading a team of regional ministers on a visit to
the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, said they had come as friends because they were
greatly concerned about the situation in Zimbabwe.
This comes as the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change wins a mayoral election in Chegutu,
100 kilometres (62 miles) west of Harare.
No smart sanctions will affect us alone without affecting our
Stan Mudenge, Zimbabwe Foreign Minister
African governments are continuing to adopt a cautious approach to the
Malawi's Foreign Minister, Lilian Patel, speaking on behalf of the Southern
African Development Community, said the situation needs a careful and mature
She said sanctions are not an option, despite worsening human rights abuses
and diminishing prospects that presidential elections due early next year can be
held under fair conditions.
The Zimbabwean Government is using the visit to emphasise African solidarity.
The Foreign Minister, Stan Mudenge, launched a characteristic attack on the
former colonial power, Britain.
But it is the United States which has taken the most decisive action against
Last week the House of Representatives endorsed a bill proposing sanctions
against President Robert Mugabe's government.
On Monday the main opposition party, the MDC, recorded a small but
significant victory, announcing that its candidate had won the election for the
position of mayor in Chegutu.
The turn-out was low, but the MDC will take heart from a victory in an area
considered a stronghold of President Mugabe.
ZIMBABWE: SADC tries again
JOHANNESBURG, 10 December (IRIN) - As regional
ministers met in Harare on Monday to assess Zimbabwe's compliance with
agreements on land reform and the rule of law, analysts said the key question
was whether southern African leaders could act decisively to end the country's
Members of the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) task team met in Johannesburg on Sunday ahead of the two days of talks.
South African newspapers reported official sources as saying that after an
"unsuccessful summit" in Harare on 10 and 11 September, SADC was "determined" to
ensure that Zimbabwe adhered to agreements on a transparent land reform
programme and free and fair presidential elections next year.
African Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana, representing Pretoria at the
Harare meeting, was quoted in the Sunday Times as saying that an "illegitimate"
presidential election could have serious consequences for the region. His
comments followed a similar warning by President Thabo Mbeki last week,
underlining an apparent shift from the government's policy of "quiet
South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA)
researcher Ross Herbert said there had been a "definite hardening" of SADC's
position in response to President Robert Mugabe's hostility towards
international election observers, and as Western countries move closer to
He told IRIN that a presumption by SADC that
Zimbabwe's elections could be unfair under current circumstances would be an
important point to establish.
"There is pressure [for SADC] to go in
there and declare that Mugabe has failed to keep his promises in previous rounds
of talks," Herbert said. "Whether they have the guts to do that is another
Meanwhile, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Sunday called
on Mugabe to sign a "non-violence pact" ahead of the presidential poll, the
independent Daily News reported. But he said he doubted the ruling party's
commitment to ease the political tensions in the country. Tsvangirai was quoted
as saying that ZANU-PF was instead trying to draw the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) into acts of violence.
Speaking at a rally in the sprawling
township of Chitungwiza outside Harare, he again accused the police of being
partisan. Tsvangirai said that at least 83 people had died since last year "due
to acts of lawlessness and not a single person has been convicted for the
murders. This is despite the fact some of the murderers are known to the
Dec 10 2001 12:00:00:000AM Business Day 1st Edition
Zimbabwe will define
Mugabe is a thug with his back to the wall. He has every reason to
if he loses power he faces financial ruin, possibly a public trial
atrocities, and imprisonment. At the least he will be stripped of
Therefore he intends to hold on to power, preferably by
population to elect him, but by any means if necessary. He
has shown himself
willing to provoke murderous conflict, to ruin his country,
and to starve
his people to stay in power.
I make this point baldly
because failure to grasp the nature of the game in
Zimbabwe lies at the heart
of many of the policy prescriptions urged on
President Thabo Mbeki, mainly
and not coincidentally, by his enemies.
The pressure has finally
persuaded him to abandon his ineffectual "quiet
diplomacy" for equally
ineffectual denunciation. The proponents of
denunciation know it will also
prove useless, so we are already hearing
demands for "targeted" sanctions
directed at Mugabe and his ruling cabal.
Mbeki is on the
The limited sanctions will not succeed, but then they are not
succeed, only to embroil us in the conflict. When limited
sanctions prove as
useless as " quiet diplomacy", we shall get demands for
and if Mbeki accedes to them, we shall become complicit in
shattering of Zimbabwean society.
Amid the ruins, behold,
Mugabe may still be standing!
The simple truth is that this country
cannot dictate the future of Zimbabwe,
except perhaps by the methods of
President Bush against the Taliban, for
which we lack both the resources and
Responsibility for rescuing Zimbabwean democracy lies not with
us but with
the people of Zimbabwe. If they want democracy they will fight
for it. So
far, there has been some brave electioneering and some
journalism, but we have seen nothing of the methods of mass
used to bring down Ian Smith. Why not?
Nor indeed have we
seen the kind of international support which the United
Commonwealth, and the great democracies gave to Mugabe, among
topple Smith. Again, why not?
Among the many reasons is the notion, very
popular in London and Washington,
that South Africa can be induced, or
manipulated, or bullied into taking up
the burden which greater countries
countries whose citizens do not lack
houses or schools, whose poor are
sustained by social security nets, whose
bureaucracies are competent and
long-established refuse to carry.
That burden may become huge. Zimbabwe's
economy has been so shattered by the
Al Capone behaviour of its ruler that we
must now expect it to implode, with
inflation rates perhaps climbing from
100% to 1000%, while price controls
and a shortage of foreign exchange lead
to a collapse of productive
capacity. Agriculture, already damaged, seems
likely to be replaced by mere
subsistence farming, with general deprivation
The influx of refugees to South Africa, foreseen at the
start of this debate
as our single overriding interest in the Zimbabwe
crisis, has begun without
response from our government. Nelson Mandela says
the President is too
involved with his foreign ventures to be able to provide
AIDS. He is presumably also too busy to deal with crime,
bureaucracies, or refugees.
So things will, we may
confidently predict, get worse until the United
Nations, the Commonwealth and
the former colonial power which did so much to
create the present situation
choose to intervene. They will not do so while
they think there is a chance
to shove President Mbeki into the front line.
What President Mbeki should
do instead is to use his considerable diplomatic
skills to bring the United
Nations and the international aid agencies into
the fray. He should declare
that the sustenance of illegal refugees is
beyond our resources, but that we
shall co-operate in an international
programme to gather fleeing Zimbabweans
in places of safety, to feed them,
and to screen them so that those who are
healthy and skilled can be offered
permanent homes in this
That would be preferable to our present policy of useless but
pressure on while doing nothing about the refugees.
2001 12:00:00:000AM Business Day 1st Edition
Dec 10 2001 12:00:00:000AM Francis Kornegay Business Day 1st Edition
must consider hard and soft options against
onslaught by Zimbabwe's state-owned Herald newspaper against President
Mbeki may turn out to be the "breath of fresh air" needed for Pretoria
start entertaining fresh thoughts on Zimbabwe's problems.
is, how badly does Pretoria want to prevent a major crack-up in
neighbour, one that destabilises much of the Southern African
Community (SADC) and SA in particular? And what are Pretoria's
While Mbeki's spokesman, Bheki Khumalo, said Zimbabwe is not a
province of SA", President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu (PF) has
Zimbabwe into an economic colony of this country with its campaign
political and economic anarchy.
With Zimbabwe now totally dependent
on SA for electricity, maize and
transport links, that country has become
virtually a "10th province". Yet
Pretoria has robbed itself of leverage by
ruling out sanctions.
One would think that avoiding a civil war in
Zimbabwe, at all costs, is even
more important than an aversion to
It can be assumed from the reported reaction of Mugabe to
in his wanting an urgent meeting with the SA leader that
there is a split
among Mugabe's colleagues: between moderates like Finance
Makoni and hardliners like Information Minister Jonathan
After all Pretoria has done to shield Mugabe from international
only to be humiliated by his disdain, some ministers in his
stressing his need for Mbeki's support to stop impending European
American sanctions that will target many of them in terms of their
assets abroad and their ability to travel. It seems Pretoria has
leverage on Zimbabwe after all.
A last-ditch effort to stave off
sanctions by Pretoria ought to be
predicated on a strategy aimed at
strengthening moderates around Mugabe at
the expense of the "chaos faction".
This is where, by the way, there is
still room for socalled "quiet
diplomacy", where SA leaders are in a
position to drive home certain terms
and conditions for what they want to
see unfold in Zimbabwe in exchange for
holding off sanctions.
The obvious is to salvage the March elections and
ensure that they are free
and fair. For that, Mugabe has to forgo enforcing a
host of Draconian
measures his government has adopted, aimed at rigging the
elections in Zanu
(PF)'s favour. This has to also include allowing
If Mugabe's colleagues want to avoid
European Union (EU) and US sanctions,
they need to reverse their decision to
ban EU and US election observers.
However, the entire monitoring exercise
should fall under the oversight of
the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and
Security, with a major role carved
out for the southern African church and
organised labour community.
If these conditions cannot be agreed to by
Harare, or if they are agreed to
but are breached, then Harare should face
sanctions, with SA joining in the
effort for good measure.
extent, the Congress of SA Trade Unions and the Southern African
Coordinating Council might need to begin lobbying now for SADC
the meantime, if Mugabe and his colleagues show good faith,
there is a role
for "quiet diplomacy" whereby SA and SADC talk with Zanu
(PF) moderates and
the Movement for Democratic Change.
Those talks could be about
considering establishing a postelection
government of national unity linked
to a Development Bank of Southern
Africa-based multilateral strategic
recovery process to reverse the economic
decline and depolarise
The US sanctions bill, for example, does hold out the prospect
for $26m in
aid, some debt forgiveness as well as trade and investment
conditioned on fair elections.
If Zimbabwe takes such a
path, then Pretoria's aim should be to work with
Harare towards guiding
Zimbabwe into the Southern African Customs Union as
the core of an expanding
economic community within SADC and the African
possibility would be for an apparently ailing Mugabe to declare
"winning" the election and pass off to a younger successor who
contemplate the national unity government option.
Should civil war be
unavoidable, SA's "quiet diplomacy" may still be
required to talk Zimbabweans
into agreeing to a humanitarian, peace-building
presence under SADC
The point is a whole range of hard and soft options have to
considered urgently. Zimbabwe has become a regional security
threat on SA's
doorstep egged on by the likes of Libya's Muammar Gadaffi in
with Pretoria for continental leadership. There is a lot at
Kornegay is the programme co- ordinator for the Centre for
International Relations at Wits University.
become a regional security threat on SA's doorstep
- SAIIA: Pull the economic plug -
- Policy U-turn? - FinGaz
- In the line of fire -
- Newspaper vendors attacked -
- SADC observers snubbed -
- DRC talks breakthrough -
From News24 (SA), 9
SAIIA: 'Pull the economic
Cape Town - The Zimbabwe crisis could deteriorate to a point
where that country could become "another battlefield like the Democratic
Republic of Congo," the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA)
has warned. In a critical and frank assessment of the political situation
brewing in South Africa's northern neighbour, SAIIA deputy chairperson Moeletsi
Mbeki said the time had come for more drastic measures to defuse the looming
danger. One of the ways this could be achieved, he said, was for South Africa to
pull Zimbabwe's economic plug. Speaking on SABC's newsmaker programme on Sunday,
the day before a Southern African Development Community (SADC) ministerial task
force meeting in Harare, Mbeki said he did not think the meeting would make any
difference. SADC ministers are flying into the Zimbabwean capital on Monday to
review and deliberate on political and economic developments in that country.
But Mbeki warned SADC was "a very weak organisation", and many of its member
states did not have the "muscle" to stand up to Zimbabwe. It would be up to
South Africa to take the initiative.
"South Africa is the one country that is going to be hurt the
most by the Zimbabwe crisis, so it is the country that has to take most of the
action." One example of the South African government's failure to act was "the
whole issue of the electricity bill payment". "There's been comings and goings
about the (electricity) debt owed to South Africa. But instead of pulling the
plug, South Africa has looked for ways of, for example, turning the debt into
equity, or becoming a shareholder in the Zimbabwean electricity supply. The
overall perception on the Zimbabwean side is that the South African government
is weak - from 1996 to now this has been the perception in the mind of
Zimbabweans." He said the time had come for more drastic measures on the part of
South Africa. "You know, most of Zimbabwe's trade goes through South Africa. We
must be their biggest trading partner. So we can stop the Zimbabwean economy
tomorrow if we wanted to. We have the muscle." Asked if this would be in South
Africa's best interests, he said: "I suspect it will, because if the
(Zimbabwean) government is not able to deliver a modicum of welfare to its
population, then there is only one way of staying in government, and that's
through force." Asked to comment on the prospects of free and fair elections in
Zimbabwe next year, he said the ruling Zanu PF's "invasion" of Bulawayo two
weeks ago - by so-called war veterans, who burnt down opposition party offices -
had been a "dress rehearsal" for 2002.
"Elections will definitely not be free and fair. I understand
the Libyans have moved elements of their military there, and the Angolans are
sending small-arms to Zimbabwe to arm the militias that Zanu PF is training. It
looks like there is preparation for a major onslaught against the population,
and against the supporters of the opposition movement," Mbeki said. Zimbabwe had
been interfering in the affairs of other countries in the region - its
involvement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was an example of this - and
although it enjoyed the support of countries such as Angola and Libya, it also
had enemies. "So Zimbabwe could, in fact, become another battlefield like the
DRC, with armies from all over the place slogging it out. Because if there's a
firefight in Zimbabwe, you can't expect Rwanda and the countries that are
opposed to Zimbabwe not to take advantage of that situation."
Mbeki said the South African government had a long history of
doing nothing in the face of provocation by Zimbabwe's Zanu PF government. "So
in a way it has backed itself into a corner where it is now difficult for it to
do anything." He cited as an example of this President Robert Mugabe's handover
of the SADC chairmanship. "He handed over the chairmanship to former president
Nelson Mandela, but kept the committee on security and politics. It now turns
up, according to articles in that country's Herald newspaper, that in the view
of the Zimbabweans they didn't think the South African government was in any
case legitimate enough to look after the security of the SADC region." In the
eyes of the Zimbabwean government, there was a "legitimacy problem" with the
South African government. The mistake South Africa had made was to allow this
situation to "fester unresolved", and to allow former president Nelson Mandela
to take over the chairmanship, "without forcing Zimbabwe either to be kicked out
of SADC, or South Africa to leave SADC".
Asked what he thought would happen if Zimbabwe President Robert
Mugabe won next year's election, he said in his view the situation would get
"worse and worse". "The only way he can win is if the elections are not free and
fair, and all indications are that they will not be. I think the United States
and the European Union will impose sanctions; South Africa will have to do
something; and the situation in Zimbabwe will deteriorate," he said. On Tuesday
last week, the US House of Representatives passed legislation allowing the
imposition of sanctions against Zimbabwe, including personal sanctions against
Mugabe and his ruling elite.
From The Financial Gazette, 6
Has Mbeki done a policy U-turn on
The Sunday Times of December 2 2001 had a screaming headline:
"Mbeki turns up the heat up on Bob". The article claimed that President Thabo
Mbeki had now abandoned his "quiet diplomacy" approach on Zimbabwe. The article
cited the three occasions at which Mbeki had publicly reprobated President
Robert Mugabe and had emphasised the need for free and fair elections. They also
cited the fact that Mbeki had made a call to Malawi President Bakili Muluzi and
apparently reiterated the urgency of the crisis in Zimbabwe. A spokeperson for
Mbeki, Bheki Khumalo, is quoted as saying: "If the elections are not legitimate,
the situation will be far worse that it is now. The President therefore wants to
double the efforts to seek a resolution to the crisis."
So has there been a substantial policy shift in the ANC-led
government? The truth is much more complicated than that and the jury is still
out. There is no doubt that Mbeki has become impatient with his Zimbabwean
counterpart and he sees the Zimbabwe political and economic imbroglio as an
albatross on both his country's economy and on his legacy to the continent, the
Millennium African Recovery Plan (MAP). What is becoming clear is that beyond
the novelty of sloganeering on land there is a realisation by black South
Africans that the problem in Zimbabwe is not about land but about governance.
There is some recognition that the land issue has been hijacked for the sake of
cheap political opportunism.
A Richardson Mzaidume writes in the Sowetan Sunday World
(December 2 2001): "I am pleased that our president has at last come out of his
shell and has condemned Robert Mugabe, something he should have done long
ago...Mugabe is not doing what he does because he cares about the people of his
country, but because he cares about himself. If Mugabe were genuinely concerned
about the well-being of Zimbabweans, he had ample time to do something about it.
But he failed at a time when he had no opposition. Now that there is opposition,
he is behaving like a man possessed by evil." There has been a steady stream of
such letters in various publications and on radio stations Zimbabwe is discussed
on a regular basis.
On Tuesday December 4 Metro FM had Kaiser Nyatsumba, associate
editor at the Independent in London. Nyatsumba lauded Mbeki for his change in
approach to Mugabe. He argued that in the 1980s then President of the United
States of America Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, then Prime Minister of
the United Kingdom, had used the same "velvet glove" or "constructive
engagement" approach to apartheid South Africa when activists were calling for
sanctions. When sanctions were imposed, they hastened the fall of the apartheid
regime. Nyatsumba felt that limited sanctions against Zimbabwe would help in
resolving the Zimbabwean crisis. He, however, cautioned Mbeki at going against
Mugabe alone as he would be demonised by the Zimbabwe government and its media.
Instead he advocated for a regional approach that would bring on board Angola
and Namibia, which are perceived as supportive of Harare.
However, Nyatsumba's celebration of the shift in policy by
Mbeki does not seem to be shared by other journalists. In an editorial headlined
"Oppose media gag" which obliquely referred to Mbeki's new approach The Star had
this to say: "President Mbeki may be harbouring a forlorn hope of free and fair
elections in Zimbabwe if the Harare government follows through on its threat to
muzzle the local press and foreign media...The South African government, in its
attempts to ensure free and fair elections, must make it plain to President
Mugabe that a free, unfettered media is a prerequisite." One senses through the
editorial some element of cynicism that Mbeki would speak directly to Mugabe and
tell him the brutal truth: restore law and order or face the music.
Compounding the issue of the direction the ANC government
should take on Zimbabwe are the different ideas within the ruling party about
how to handle the Zimbabwean situation. It seems there is one group that feels a
certain sense of loyalty to Zanu PF because of their liberation war links and
those that were in exile in Harare have fond memories of their stay there and
the government's largesse then. Another group seems to be wary of the Movement
for Democratic Change's (MDC) agenda and believes that Zimbabwe's situation can
only be resolved when Mugabe goes and is replaced by a more level-headed leader
from within Zanu PF. The ANC's Alliance partners, the Congress of South Africa
Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South African Communist Party (SACP) are clear in
their support for the MDC. As to which grouping has the upper hand that will
certainly become clear in the coming weeks as South African business and the
international world apply further pressure on Mbeki to ensure matters in
Zimbabwe do not come to a head. We shall soon know what Mbeki means by
"doubling" his efforts on Zimbabwe.
From The Guardian (UK), 10
In the line of
Chris McGreal reports on Mugabe's
latest attempt to bring a critical press to heel
This article will be punishable by up to two years in prison
under the new media law that Robert Mugabe is likely to push through Zimbabwe's
parliament this week. For a start, it quotes the Herald newspaper in Harare - a
government propagandist rag with little regard for the truth or its plummeting
circulation - for the want of a response from Zimbabwe's minister of information
about the coming legislation. But that in itself falls afoul of Part XII,
section 89 of the new legislation under the heading: Abuse of Journalistic
Privilege. "A journalist shall be deemed to have abused his journalistic
privilege and committed an offence if he does the following: rewrites a story
that has already been published by another mass media service without the
permission of that mass media owner."
Well, the Herald was first with the story, as it breaks all
news planted by the government. It revealed that Mugabe plans to curb his last
truly vigorous domestic critics - the press - by having the information
minister, Jonathan Moyo, decide who can work as a journalist and which
newspapers may be published. In addition, it will be a crime to criticise the
president or "spread alarm and despondency". All in the name of freedom of the
press, of course. With Stalinist aforethought, the executioner also intends to
make the victim pay for the bullet. Any media house – local or foreign -
represented in Zimbabwe will be obliged to pay contributions to a "media and
information fund" for the notoriously erratic Moyo to use as he pleases. The
size of the contributions has yet to be determined, but that is also Moyo's
prerogative. Mugabe may come to regret this. Moyo is wanted in Kenya and South
Africa for alleged fraud.
Basildon Peta, chairman of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists,
says the law is aimed at one thing - shutting down a critical press ahead of
what is expected to be a violent and extensively rigged presidential election in
March or April. "I can't believe its contents. It's obscene. It's unacceptable.
The only reason behind the bill is that it empowers the minister of information
to determine who practices journalism in this country and who doesn't, and it's
targeted at those he doesn't want to practise journalism. They want to weed out
journalists they don't like," he says. "It won't surprise me if newspapers are
closed down. They bombed the Daily News and failed to shut it down. So now they
are using the law." Mugabe's government has tried and failed to silence the
independent press with terror. Journalists have been arrested and tortured by
the police with beatings and electric shocks. But it could not stop the
revelations of the government's responsibility for violence, its contempt for
the law and the extent of the economic crisis Zimbabwe now faces. Moyo has also
been riled by the foreign press, particularly the BBC and British newspapers.
Foreign reporters are now virtually barred from Zimbabwe. Last month, the Herald
- at Moyo's behest - accused six journalists working for foreign newspapers of
being de facto terrorists. They included the Guardian's reporter in Harare,
Zimbabwe’'s media monitoring project said the accusations were
aimed at marking journalists as targets for attack: "It is a very short step
from labelling someone a terrorist to licensing your supporters to commit
violence against them." But the intimidation hasn't worked, so the government
intends to use a law that is almost certainly unconstitutional. The legislation
sets up a commission appointed by the government that will license journalists
according to "standards" laid down by Moyo. These are believed to include a
requirement for reporters to have journalism degrees. "Moyo knows very well that
we don't have journalism degrees, and we don't need them," says Peta. The law
prescribes up to two years in prison for a host of offences, including working
as a journalist without a licence, exciting disaffection against the president,
and spreading rumours, falsehoods or causing alarm and despondency. Publications
that breach these requirements can have their assets seized.
In the absence of government comment, we have to turn to Moyo's
own mouthpiece, the Herald, for an insight into its justification for the bill.
"In recommending the Bill, the Department of Information and Publicity said the
media should be accountable to society and had to be judged on how well they
were conveying messages without distortions or interfering with the right to
freedom of expression given to people in the constitution," the paper said. In
the future, it will be illegal to repeat what the Herald had to say without its
permission. Here's how the paper justifies it. "Journalists who have been
surviving from plagiarising stories from the Herald and other newspapers to file
stories on Zimbabwe in foreign newspapers will face criminal charges," the paper
said. Peta - who works for the Financial Gazette in Harare and also files for
Tony O'Reilly's Independent group - does not expect that he or most other
journalists critical of the government will be licensed. "What we say as the
Zimbabwe Union of Journalists is that we should not even apply for those
certificates, we shall boycott them. Then he will arrest us all and imprison us
and we shall appeal to the supreme court on constitutional grounds. It will get
the case to the court quicker."
From The Zimbabwe Independent, 7
Zanu PF mobs attack Zimind
War veterans and Zanu PF supporters have stepped up attacks on
vendors selling independent newspapers in Mashonaland Central as government
intensifies efforts to muzzle the private media. Mashonaland Central is a Zanu
PF stronghold. Newspaper vendors told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that it
was now risky to sell independent newspapers, particularly in Bindura. The most
targeted papers are the Zimbabwe Independent and the Daily News whose vendors
had resorted to secretly selling the papers in fear of their lives. Publications
Distribution’s circulation officer, Graham Gandari, said their vendor in Bindura
returned the whole batch of the Independent last week after he was prevented
from selling them in the town. "What surprised us is that state-owned newspapers
are sold freely in Bindura and we still don’t understand why they are targeting
the Independent," he said. Publications Distribution distributes the Independent
and the Standard.
A police spokesperson in Bindura confirmed they had arrested
three suspects and fined them in connection with the disruption of newspaper
sales. "Police will ensure that no-one takes the law into their own hands and
people selling newspapers should report to police if barred from selling them,"
he said by telephone on Wednesday. Publisher and chief executive of the
Independent Trevor Ncube said this was another crude attempt at suppressing the
free press, particularly as the country goes towards the presidential election.
"The government obviously doesn’t want the people to know the truth as published
in our newspapers," said Ncube. "This does not in any way dampen our spirit. We
are keenly aware of what we are up against. We will continue the fight to give
Zimbabweans unsanitised news."
From The Zimbabwe Standard, 9
Government, which has made it clear that it will not entertain
election observers and monitors from the western world, has gone a step further
by snubbing monitors from the sub-region, The Standard has learnt. Under normal
circumstances, the SADC parliamentary team would have already been in the
country to monitor the voter registration and roll inspection exercise which
ends today. Sam Mpaso, the chairman of the SADC Parliamentary Forum, confirmed
to The Standard last week that the government had not yet invited his team for
the elections. Mpaso said it was normal for the SADC parliamentary team to
monitor pre-election formalities in a SADC country holding an election. He
however, stressed that the team could only go in at the invitation of the host
Said Mpaso: "We have a plan to send a team of members of
parliament from SADC. We are just waiting for the invitation, we haven’t
received it yet. As soon as we are notified of the dates, we will come. We came
last year and observed the formalities before and after the election. We should
observe those formalities. What we are simply waiting for is notification from
the Zimbabwean authorities." A source said the Zimbabwean government was not
keen on inviting the SADC team because of the chaos surrounding the voter
registration exercise. "They don’t want SADC to see the rot. What they will do
is invite SADC during the actual polling days, when it would be too late for
them to really see the rigging. It would be difficult to tell SADC off like they
did the EU, so SADC is being barred on a technicality. SADC will have to be
invited though, but the invitation will only be sent after this chaotic voter
registration exercise is over," said the source.
The voter-registration exercise has been mired in controversy
with the opposition alleging that the ruling party was using the exercise to rig
the election. Apart from commissioning war veterans and Zanu PF supporters to
handle the registration, government has tried to make it almost impossible for
people in urban areas to register by asking residents to produce documents of
proof of residence. The MDC support base is the urban areas. In rural areas,
there have been reports of headmen compiling lists of villagers residing in
their areas. Justice minister, Patrick Chinamasa, has also made amendments to
the Electoral Act and this has been widely seen as a government attempt to
further facilitate its rigging exercise. The amendments effectively bar
independent local and foreign election monitors from overseeing the election. If
the amendments are passed by parliament, the returning officers will be allowed
to open the ballot boxes without being observed by election monitors and polling
agents. Speaker of parliament, Emmerson Mnangagwa, could not be reached for
comment last week as he was said to be busy in meetings.
From Business Day (SA), 10
Congolese talks move step
Abuja - The government and rebels from Democratic Republic of
Congo have made a "major breakthrough" in meetings in Nigeria, opening the way
to full peace talks next month, the United Nations said yesterday.
Representatives of Congolese President Joseph Kabila and the two main rebel
movements in the country agreed on who would be allowed to attend the talks in
SA next month, said UN assistant secretary-general Ibrahim Fall. "With the
adoption of that position the way is open for the inter-Congolese dialogue to
resume," said Fall. "This is a major breakthrough." The announcement followed
three days of gruelling talks at the UN office in Abuja between representatives
of Kabila, the Ugandan-backed Movement for the Liberation of Congo and the
Rwandan-backed Rally for Congolese Democracy. Congo has been at war since 1998
despite a peace accord signed in 1999. Seven countries have been involved in the
conflict, with the main foreign protagonists being Rwanda, Uganda, Zimbabwe and
Angola. One international humanitarian organisation has estimated the death toll
at 2,5-million. Officials in Kinshasa said earlier the talks in Abuja were
bogged down by splits within the rebels parties, but Fall declined to discuss
such details. Peace moves have gained momentum since Kabila took office in
January after the death of his father Laurent Kabila. Most parties to the war
have, since the young Kabila took power, withdrawn from the frontlines, paving
the way for UN peacekeepers to deploy across the vast nation. But further
progress on the accord has been slow.