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

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Urs Kreuter

Following the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and
Washington, U.S. policymakers have been paying increasing
attention to destabilizing influences around the world.
Greater interest is being shown in developments in less
prominent countries, such as Zimbabwe, and legislative
action is being proposed to counteract destruction by aging
and despotic leaders whose actions affect neighboring

     The "Zimbabwe Democratic and Economic Recovery Act of
2001" unanimously passed the Senate on Aug. 1 and gained
increasing support in the House despite the attempts of a
Washington-based lobbying team hired by President Robert
Mugabe of Zimbabwe for $7 million to derail it. The act
passed the House in a 396-to-11 vote on Dec. 4 with full
support of the Congressional Black Caucus.

     The bill reflects growing concern over the collapse of
law and order and the blatant transgression of human rights
in Zimbabwe. If violence continues and free and fair
presidential elections are not held early next year as
scheduled, the act would authorize the U.S. government to
impose travel restrictions and to freeze the external
accounts of those responsible for the breakdown of the rule
of law and for politically motivated violence.

     Conversely, if the country's ruling party, ZANU-PF,
creates conditions for fair elections and it introduces an
equitable and transparent land reform program, the act would
provide $26 million for land purchases, and it would promote
investment and reduce some of Zimbabwe's debt.

     Economic and government mismanagement have led the once
popular Mr. Mugabe and ZANU-PF increasingly to lose voter
support. Seventy-five percent of the population now lives in
poverty and the country is on the brink of famine. The
economic decay has been driven partly by Zimbabwe's military
support for the Congo governments' war against rebel groups.
This support is being provided in exchange for vast mineral
and timber concessions to Zimbabwe's political and military
leaders, and has depleted Zimbabwe's foreign currency
reserves and jeopardized critical imports, especially fuel
and food.

     To retain power, Mr. Mugabe tried to install himself as
lifelong president last year but his ambitions were thwarted
in a constitutional referendum. Subsequently, the loss of
support for the ruling party resulted in the opposition
Movement for Democratic Reform (MDC) winning 57 out of 120
seats in parliamentary elections, despite widespread voter
intimidation by ZANU-PF. In his continuing efforts to retain
power, Mr. Mugabe has obtained economic support and arms
from Col. Moammar Gadhafi of Libya in exchange for numerous
properties in Zimbabwe, including a 32-room "Operations
Headquarters." Following Col. Gadhafi's announcement at the
June meeting of the Organization of African Unity that "all
'whites' should be driven off the land in Zimbabwe and South
Africa," there has been an influx of Libyans into Zimbabwe.

     The extent of the ZANU PF's violent intimidation became
clear on Oct. 30 when a U.S. District Court ruled that
ZANU-PF is liable for murdering and torturing its political
opponents in the runup to elections. The five Zimbabwean
plaintiffs in the case had requested a hearing in the U.S.
to seek justice for their murdered relatives. ZANU-PF has
also been accused of attempting to assassinate the leader of
the opposition party and of bombing the MDC offices.

     The commercial agricultural sector has come under
increasing attack because of ZANU-PF's contention that the
predominantly white farming community is financing the
opposition. Government-sponsored occupations of farms
started ostensibly to provide land for landless black people
even though thousands of acres of land purchased under
internationally sponsored "resettlement" programs remain
unoccupied. Land seizures and harassment of farmers and
their employees have continued despite the Abuja (Nigeria)
accord in early September in which the Zimbabwe government
agreed to stop land occupations. Last week ZANU-PF banned
about 25 percent of Zimbabwe's 4,000 commercial farmers from
planting crops and ordered them to leave their homes within
three months.

     Initially, the Zimbabwe Supreme Court ruled these land
seizures to be unconstitutional. Mr. Mugabe recently
replaced the chief justice of this court, and last week it
ruled that the government should continue to "redistribute"
white farms to black Zimbabweans. This ruling has serious
consequences for the country. Apart from being the bedrock
of Zimbabwe's economy, the commercial agricultural sector
employs about 320,000 people, who together with their
families number almost 2 million. Zimbabwe is on the brink
of famine because of ZANU-PF's policy of land seizures and
planting restrictions and because of the depletion of
foreign currency.

     Since Zimbabwe is centrally located in southern Africa,
increasing chaos within its borders is affecting the region
as a whole. Botswana's President Festus Mogae recently
criticized Mr. Mugabe and his government for failing to deal
with land resettlement peacefully, and for dragging the
entire southern Africa economy down with his violent
approach. One effect is the 40 percent drop in value of the
South African currency since June.

     To promote peace and stability in southern Africa, it
is important that the U.S. send a clear message to Mr.
Mugabe and ZANU-PF that America will not tolerate violent
suppression of the rights of Zimbabweans. The Zimbabwe
Democratic and Economic Recovery Act will provide the kind
of signal needed.

This article was mailed from The Washington Times
For more great articles, visit us at

Copyright (c) 2001 News World Communications, Inc. All
rights reserved.
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The Times

Tsvangirai ignores Mugabe threat


MORGAN TSVANGIRAI, Zimbabwe’s opposition leader, vowed yesterday to press
ahead with his presidential candidacy despite renewed police harassment and
a warning from President Mugabe that he regarded the election campaign as
“total war”.
Speaking from Harare, Mr Tsvangirai said that his Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) was determined to end Mr Mugabe’s two decades in power through
the ballot box at the elections that are to be held by March. “Mugabe has
never abandoned violence and we will see more of it before the campaign,” he
said. “But we have the support of the people and they are determined to see
irrevocable change take place in this country.”

At the weekend Mr Tsvangirai spent a second day at a Harare police station
where he was charged with using an unlicensed two-way radio. The opposition
leader said that the device did not belong to him and did not require a
licence. But if convicted he could face two years in prison and a fine of
more than £2,000.

“This is just an inconvenience. They want to distract me on this matter to
divert my attention,” he said. He was more concerned about Mr Mugabe’s
outburst on Saturday, which could signal more intimidation by the Zanu (PF)
party, whose activists used violence against the opposition and white
farmers last year during parliamentary elections which were marked by
murders, land seizures and rapes.

Mr Mugabe, 77, told his supporters at a Zanu (PF) conference in Victoria
Falls, that the authorities would be even more ruthless this time. “It is
not like the June 2000 parliamentary elections, which was like a football
game where I was the central striker,” he told cheering party members. “We
will have a command centre, unlike last year. This is war, this is not a
game. This is the third chimurenga (uprising). You are soldiers of Zanu (PF)
for the people.

“When we come to your province, we must see you ready as the commanders,
when the time comes to fire the bullet, the ballot, the trajectory of the
gun must be true,” he said.

At one point he shouted “Death to the tea boy” — an apparent reference to Mr
Tsvangirai, who has been accused of being too accommodating to white

Some members of the ruling party played down the threatening language,
insisting that Mr Mugabe was referring only to the need of his supporters to
be prepared for the election. Others seemed to take his message more

“The enemy has been identified and we are ready to crush it,” Elliot
Manyika, a Zanu (PF) MP told state television. “Our machinery is now
sharpened and we are saying to the MDC: ‘Here we come, we are going to
attack you. We are raring to go.’ ”

Mr Mugabe signalled that he wanted to use race as an issue, in particular
the seizure of white-owned farms. “We shall prove that indeed we can do
without the white man in this country,” he said, promising to give the land
to the people.

His outburst could provoke a response from abroad. The US Congress has
already passed measures to impose sanctions against Mr Mugabe, his family,
and his closest advisers. Similar steps are being considered by the European
Union. Commonwealth foreign ministers are meeting in London this week.

African countries are particularly infuriated with Harare after the regime
agreed earlier this year at Abuja, the Nigerian capital, that it would
respect the law and halt its campaign of violence. The agreement, brokered
by the Nigerians, has been largely ignored.

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Zim Independent

EU says time is up for Zimbabwe

Dumisani Muleya
In a hard-hitting resolution on Zimbabwe adopted on Wednesday, the European
parliament in Strasbourg said it was time to act and not entertain Harare’s
political posturing any longer.

The resolution called on the EU council and commission to immediately start
the 60-day countdown to further action, as stipulated in Article 96 of the
Cotonou Agreement.

Zimbabwe is expected to engage the EU in make-or-break meetings on Wednesday
in Brussels attended by Foreign minister Stan Mudenge. Harare is trying to
mobilise the Southern African Development Community (Sadc), African,
Caribbean & Pacific (ACP) countries, and the African Union for support.

But some countries in the region including South Africa, Botswana,
Mozambique, Lesotho and Zambia refused to vote for Zimbabwe during the
ACP/EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly meeting in Brussels on October 29.
The EU resolution observed the need for “the widest possible international
agreement for tough action against the Mugabe regime”.

The EU parliament said there was need to urgently apply “smart sanctions”
against Zimbabwe including the identification and freezing of assets held in
European countries and countries closely associated with President Mugabe,
his family, and named close associates. EU-wide visa restrictions should be
imposed on Mugabe and his cronies as well, it said.

The resolution demanded that President Mugabe hold free and fair elections,
adopt regional electoral standards, end political violence, farm seizures,
harassment of the media, judiciary, and opposition, facilitate distribution
of humanitarian aid, and withdraw his troops from the Congo to stop looting.

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Zim Independent

MDC fights new registration rules

Vincent Kahiya
THE opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has filed an urgent High
Court application to challenge the conduct of the voter registration
exercise and force the government to compile a common roll for the
presidential election to be held in March next year.

The filing of the application this week comes amid allegations by the MDC
that Zanu PF had instructed Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede to ensure that
only Zanu PF supporters conduct voter registration.

Learnmore Jongwe, the MDC Secretary for Information and Publicity named one
Simba Mpanduki-Sibanda as a Zanu PF official who was busy conducting voter
education at Mpinda Primary School in Lower Gweru.

“At Insukamini Hall, also in Lower Gweru, Older Jinkila-Ncube, a provincial
Zanu PF official, is also conducting voter registration.

This is only a drop in the ocean. The prevailing scenario casts a dark
shadow in the face of the presidential election next year,” Jongwe said.

In the application filed on Wednesday, the MDC wants all persons over the
age of 18, who are citizens of Zimbabwe and who since 1985 were permanent
residents, to be entitled to vote in the election at any designated polling
station in the country.

The party wants all persons who hold a Zimbabwean national identity document
or those with voter confirmation cards to be allowed to vote.

The High Court challenge follows the change of voter registration
regulations by the government, which wants to use constituency registers for
the presidential poll. Those wanting to register have been asked to bring
proof of residence such as lodgers cards, water statements or electricity

“As a result of the insistence on production of these documents, several
potential voters who are entitled to be registered have been turned away and
certainly this defeats the whole purpose of the exercise,” reads the MDC

“It is in the interest of the MDC and indeed, any political party which
intends to field a candidate to contest in the upcoming presidential
election, for the registration exercise be done properly and in accordance
with the Electoral Law,” reads the application.

The MDC is also challenging the continued tenure of Sobuza Gula-Ndebele as
chair of the Electoral Supervisory Commission.

The MDC has averred that Gula-Ndebele’s tenure as chair expired on September
1, which means that the ESC is not properly constituted.

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Zim Independent

Zanu PF blows $440m at Falls

Blessing Zulu
THE ruling Zanu PF, which is facing serious financial problems, is expected
to spend over $440 million on the current party conference at Victoria
Falls, the Zimbabwe Independent has learnt.

Sources said the staggering amount, which is far more than Zanu PF’s annual
statutory allocation under the Political Parties (Finance) Act, was raised
through party and government structures. Zanu PF got
$62 million from the state allocation this year.

The conference began yesterday with about 7 000 delegates expected to
attend. The party has to pay for delegates’ food, accommodation, transport
and other requirements. Delegates are drawn from all the 10 political

Sources said the party had been split over the need to hold the conference,
with some officials calling for its cancellation. They argued funds could be
better spent on the presidential election campaign in which Zanu PF’s Robert
Mugabe is facing his stiffest challenge yet from the Movement for Democratic
Change’s Morgan Tsvangirai.

The proposal was however brusquely rejected.

There have been allegations that some senior Zanu PF officials, including
ministers, stand to benefit from the staging of the conference at the Falls.

“There are many officials who are set to benefit from this conference as
they own chalets housing the delegates. Obviously any idea of cancelling the
conference would have affected them,” said a source.

Not all accommodation demands at the resort town could be met and some
delegates are staying in tents.

Sources said about 100 senior Zanu PF officials were staying at the
up-market, four-star The Kingdom Hotel at $6 000 per bed per night.

Twenty-two are housed at the three-star Rainbow Hotel at a cost of $7 800
per night, bed and breakfast, while 60 delegates are lodged at Hotel

The average cost for a double room at the Mercure is $7 590 and $5 390 for a
single room per night.

Hundreds of other delegates are housed in lodges, which
cost about $6 000 per night per person.

Zanu PF has also purchased 40 four-wheel drive vehicles and an array of
saloon cars specifically for the conference, the source said.

Sources said it cost on average $8 000 to move each delegate to Victoria
Falls by road.

At least 500 officials flew from Harare to Victoria Falls and an Air
Zimbabwe official yesterday said a return ticket to the resort town cost $50

Specials are selling at $30 500, but only a limited number are available per

Fuel, which was said to be scarce for the past few weeks, is now in
abundance in the resort town.

Efforts to get a comment from the Zanu PF Secretary for Administration,
Emmerson Mnangagwa, were not successful as he was not reachable on his

Zim Independent

Paranoid Zanu PF brings Victoria Falls to a halt

Busani Bafana
THE Zanu PF congress in Victoria Falls has suddenly transformed the resort
town into a security area as armed police and soldiers patrol the streets,
harassing businessmen and residents.

The few tourists visiting the town have fled to Livingstone on the Zambian
side of the Falls.

The government last week grounded all planes used by tourists for
sight-seeing, saying the aircraft posed a security threat to the assembled
delegates. The Airforce of Zimbabwe has deployed three planes in Victoria
Falls to enforce the no-fly zone.

The airforce is using the old Sprayview airstrip as its base from which it
is flying an MI 24 helicopter gunship over the town almost every hour. A
Bell 206 helicopter and a Lynx fixed-wing plane have been placed on standby.

Residents yesterday complained to the Zimbabwe Independent of wanton
harassment by the police, some of whom patrolled with dogs. Business has
also been affected as security-wary tourists opted to cross over to Zambia
where they can still enjoy undisturbed flights over the Falls.

“We have never seen so much security as this before,” said one resident.

“Members of the ZRP Support Unit are harassing people on the streets for no
apparent reason.”

While most hotels in the resort town have been fully booked, some tour
operators complained that the conference has put another nail in the country
’s tourism coffin because of unnecessary security in place for the next
three days.

Officials from the Department of Information ejected the Zimbabwe
Independent from the conference on the grounds the newspaper was an “enemy
of the state”.

Zim Independent

Mugabe accuses the MDC of terrorism

Addressing Zanu PF’s policy-making central committee at the start of a
three-day party conference in Victoria Falls yesterday, Mugabe said the MDC,
led by his main rival Morgan Tsvangirai, was a terrorist organisation with
no viable political programme.

“The MDC has realised that its political message is not believable and has
indeed resorted to terrorism ... to terrorising our supporters and killing
some of them with the aim of driving them away from our party ahead of the
elections,” he said.

Mugabe, who is facing his toughest election challenge from Tsvangirai,
accused the MDC of being “a shameless puppet and front” for Western and
white minority interests in Zimbabwe.

Mugabe said any sanctions against his government were illegal and immoral.
“Our crime is that we are resolute.”

Tsvangirai, who regards Mugabe’s accusations as part of a drive to justify a
crack down on the party, says Mugabe has become desperate ahead of the

Zimbabwe is suffering its worst economic crisis in decades, which many blame
on government mismanagement, but which Mugabe says is due to sabotage by his

The Zanu PF conference in the resort town of Victoria Falls is being held
under the banner “Land for Economic Empowerment” — the slogan under which
the ruling party will also fight the March presidential election.

Mugabe is due to officially open the annual conference today. It is being
attended by 7 000 delegates at Elephant Hills, one of Zimbabwe’s leading

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Zim Standard

 Judge orders Spooner’s release

By our own Staff
THE Supreme Court has ordered the release from remand prison of Bula-wayo
businessman, Si-mon Spooner, who is also the personal aide to David Coltart,
the MDC’s MP for Bulawayo South.

He had been languishing in prison for nearly one month for allegedly
participating in the killing of Cain Nkala, a Zanu PF activist.

In his ruling on Friday, Justice Simbarashe Mu-chechetere dismissed the
State’s objections to the release of Spooner and said he would give his
reasons later.
The judge ordered that a warrant for Spooner’s release be issued
Spooner was represented by Advocate Chris Anderson, instructed by Ms
Nyaradzo Maphosa of Sawyer and Mkushi.

Spooner was one of 14 people arrested in connection with last month’s murder
in Bulawayo of Cain Nkala, the former chairman of the Zimbabwe Liberation
War Veterans’ Association.

Nkala was abducted from his Bulawayo home, and a week later his body was
found buried in a shallow grave near Matopos.

President Mugabe declared Nkala a national hero and branded his killers
terrorists linked to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

MDC MP for Lobengula-Magwegwe, Fletcher Dulini Ncube, who is diabetic, has
been denied bail by the High Court in Bulawayo despite pleas from family
members who have cited his deteriorating health.

Ncube is also being detained in connection with Nkala’s death which the
ruling Zanu PF party is using to whip up emotions ahead of next year’s
presidential poll.

Despite the government pointing accusing fingers at the MDC, relatives of
the slain war veterans leader have said he was a victim of feuding within
the ranks of the war veterans association.

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Zim Standard

 War vets scare away voters

By Farai Mutsaka
WAR veterans and Zanu PF supporters have been enlisted to carry out voter
registration,The Standard has established.

Despite denials in parliament by home affairs minister, John Nkomo, when
quizzed by MDC MPs over the issue, investigations by The Standard reveal
that indeed war veterans and ruling party supporters are carrying out voter
registration in many rural areas.

Nkomo has denied that war veterans and ruling party supporters were carrying
out voter registration.

“I do not think that the honourable MP, Mr Mpala, is serious with these
allegations. All the people involved in the voter registration exercise are
civil servants,” said Nkomo.

L:ast weekend, war veterans were seen carrying out voter registration in
Manicaland province at Redwing Mine in Penhalonga. Residents in the area
complained of ill-treatment from the war veterans and Zanu PF activists whom
they accused of trying to ascertain whether would-be voters were Zanu PF or
MDC supporter before registering them.

War veterans’ involvement in the ongoing voter registration exercise is
widespread in rural areas and on invaded farms.

The use of war veterans in the exercise has seen hundreds of opposition
supporters being denied their right to register as voters.

Villagers who spoke to The Standard said the war veterans were making it
difficult for suspected MDC supporters to register.

MDC shadow minister for defence, Giles Mutsekwa, confirmed that war veterans
were being used in voter registration. Mutsekwa, whose constituency is
largely rural, said he had received complaints from members of his party who
had been denied their right to vote by war veterans.
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Zim Standard

 Dreaded act gazetted

By our own staff
GOVERNMENT has gazetted legislation empowering the police to ban political
rallies and bar newspapers from publishing articles criticising the
president, among other draconian measures ahead of next year’s presidential

The Public Order and Security Bill, gazetted on Friday, makes it a criminal
offence for anyone to organise or partake in an act of civil disobedience.

Last month, civic organisations resolved to embark on measures to protest at
the lawlessness currently prevailing in the country.

The proposed law sets a 20-year jail term, without the option of a fine, for
convicted organisers of civil disobedience action.

According to the proposed law, no public gatherings will be allowed unless
first sanctioned by senior police officers who automatically become the
“regulating authority” for their respective areas.

The proposed Act will empower police officers to ban public gathering in
their areas for up to three months, which could include the period before
the presidential election.

The Bill, which is intended to replace the Law and Order (Maintenance) Act
used by the colonial regime to suppress dissent, includes a clause which
bars newspapers from publishing negative stories about the president.

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Zim Standard

Delegates want Mugabe out

By our own staff
VICTORIA FALLS—Serious questions about President Robert Mugabe’s suitability
as the Zanu PF candidate in next year’s presidential election were being
raised this week.

The Zanu PF presidential campaign was launched in the resort town of
Victoria Falls during the National People’s Conference which ends today,
without any mention of the need to inject new blood into party structures,
much to the chagrin of the party’s ‘Young Turks’.

Although the succession issue can only be raised at the party congress which
takes place every five years, many delegates at the annual conference felt
the issue should have been included at the conference, in light of the stern
challenge likely to come from the MDC’s Morgan Tsvangirai.

Delegates told The Standard that the general contention was that Mugabe was
a liability, and as such his candidature would be catastrophic for the

“People in the top hierarchy of our party are failing to grasp what is
happening on the ground. The reason why we might lose next year’s election
is that we are banking on the wrong horse altogether. Mugabe is a dead
horse. He is not the ideal candidate. We need someone better, someone with
appeal. You don’t expect me to sell Mugabe in my constituency and get the
people’s approval, do you?”
asked a ruling party member.

The sources, however, said it was difficult for any of the delegates to
openly challenge Mugabe at the conference, thus the overwhelming approval
given to his candidature at the conference.

“You can’t say we are spineless. You only have to realise the situation in
the party.
Any dissenting voices will be ruthlessly dealt with. Look at what happened
to Zvobgo, Mavhaire, Mvenge and the rest of the vocal guys. They are
nowhere. That is the nature of Zanu PF. A lot of people on the floor felt
like standing up to tell those guys that Mugabe should go. The party needs a
complete rejuvenation to win the election, but saying so openly would be
suicidal,” said a delegate.

Added another: “Mugabe’s naming of a successor is not an issue at this
conference, although some people will feel we need a new candidate. Those
who wanted the issue discussed, would have done so at their own risk. The
election campaign has been launched and what remains to be seen is whether
Mugabe can win the election.”

Mugabe, 77, acknowledged that party factionalism was a threat to his chances
of winning next year’s election, where his main opponent will be Tsvangirai,
Delegates were, however, skeptical of the party’s ability to deal
effectively with factionalism given vice president Simon Muzenda’s part in

Muzenda heads a faction in Masvingo which has struggled to wrestle power
from the dominant Eddison Zvobgo faction.

Zvobgo and his close political ally, Dzikamai Mavhaire, did not attend the

“The president is right when he says factionalism is killing the party. The
problem is that the issue does not seem to be coming to an end. The
important thing is to deal with factionalism once and for all. But the
question that always crops up is, how can the party effectively deal with
factionalism when the vice president is part of the problem?”

Another party supporter from Masvingo said the party would pay dearly for
having sidelined the Zvobgo faction.

“President Mugabe’s policy of courting junior ministers like Jonathan Moyo
and Patrick Chinamasa who do not have any history in the party will
certainly cost him. Achayeuka bako anaiwa.”

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Zim Indep. 14/12/01
Zim Independent

Opinion 1

By David Kilgour
ZIMBABWE and its people find themselves in a very precarious situation; what
was once a beacon of hope and prosperity in Africa finds itself dangerously
close to economic and political ruin. Reports of politically motivated
violence and intimidation abound. The independent press, including foreign
reporters, are being harassed. Inflation is nearly 100% and unemployment is
above 60%, while foreign exchange reserves and exports are disappearing. The
World Food Programme warns that soon over 700 000 Zimbabweans will face
severe food shortages. At the centre of the storm: land ownership in
Zimbabwe and a sustainable economic future for all its people.

The urgent need for land reform in Zimbabwe is indisputable. Until the early
1990s, in a population of 12,5 million people, approximately 4 500 white
farmers owned 40% of the agricultural land, about 12 million hectares. These
farms employed 300 000 farm workers who, with their families, represent 1,5
million people. Over six million other Zimbabweans are crowded in poverty on
“communal areas” of poor soil and little rainfall. Zimbabwe’s Independence
struggle promised the return of land to Zimbabweans. This promise has yet to
be fulfilled. Securing equity, social peace, racial harmony, and economic
progress for Zimbabweans in part depends on the execution of efficient and
sustainable land redistribution programmes. Unfortunately, this has not been
the case to date.

In July of 2000, following 20 years of largely ineffective land reform
policies, the government of President Robert Mugabe launched its “fast-track
land reform programme”. It sought to resettle 162 000 families on five
million hectares of privately-owned land for the 2001 season. The government
later increased its target to 8,3 million hectares, owned by the white
commercial farmers and the source of most of Zimbabwe’s agricultural
commercial exports. Aside from having patently unattainable objectives, the
programme proved to be ill-conceived, thereby frustrating all parties
involved. In December 2000, Zimbabwe’s own Supreme Court ruled it

Since then, the situation in Zimbabwe has become increasingly unstable. Land
seizures have continued, seriously disrupting agri- culture on commercial
farms. Violence and intimidation connected to a series of by-elections have
been well documented. Supreme Court Justices have been physically threatened
by government supporters. The potential for increasing violence and the
collapse of the commercial agricultural sector is ever-present.

On September 6, 2001, at the behest of Nigerian President Olesegun Obasanjo,
eight Commonwealth ministers and the secretary-general of the Commonwealth
met in Abuja, Nigeria. The purpose of the meeting was to find a “mutually
acceptable solution” to the land issue. It was further understood that
discussions would focus on Zimbabwe’s commitment to the Commonwealth
principles of respect for the rule of law, human rights and democratic
government. The resulting agreement committed Zimbabwe to end farm
invasions, take firm action against violence, and restore the rule of law.

Great Britain, in turn, agreed to make “significant” funds available for
land reform programs provided Zimbabwe met its commitments. The Abuja
Agreement, therefore, paved the way for the international community to
measure Zimbabwe’s good faith in living up to Commonwealth principles, while
offering a financial incentive for Zimbabwe to resolve its land crisis. The
same group reconvened recently in Harare (October 25-27), to verify whether
progress had been made. At Canada’s insistence, the committee visited farms
and heard from a wide range of organisations, including civil society, the
opposition, and the press. What they told us was very disturbing.

We heard numerous reports of ongoing farm invasions and severe violations of
human rights. Since the first Commonwealth ministers’ meeting, new invasions
and violence have prevented any agricultural activity on over 700 farms
during the planting season. According to the Law Society of Zimbabwe, which
represents more than 800 lawyers, “there has been no restoration of a
climate of legality”. The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum provided
well-documented evidence that “torture continues to be practised by both
state agents and other agents acting with the acquiescence of the state”.
The government of Zimbabwe continuously discounted all such allegations,
blaming internal and external opposition forces.

Canada played a leading role in pressing Zimbabwe to respect its Abuja
commitments. In the interest of keeping the Abuja process alive, a
communiqué was issued in Harare, representing a compromise among governments
represented around the table. It reiterated that the entire land reform
process needs to take place in accordance with the laws and constitution of

Zimbabwe’s government cannot be allowed to escape stringent international
observation. The committee heard from a range of voices who insisted that
the government has not made an honest effort to end the continuing
lawlessness and human rights violations. Others argued that the people who
desperately need land, namely Zimbabwe’s landless poor, are not receiving
it. Canada has already taken preliminary actions against Zimbabwe: these
include cuts to our bilateral aid and limits on export financing and
military training. Further steps would require careful coordination with our
Commonwealth partners and especially with key African countries who have a
stake in this matter.

Land reform in Zimbabwe needs to occur in a legal, transparent, effective,
and peaceful manner. Canada has consistently supported a United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP) proposal that outlines an orderly, transparent
and well-targeted land reform programme. In this vein, we fully support a
UNDP land assessment mission which was in Zimbabwe in early November.
Furthermore, we strongly support the deployment of election observers to
Zimbabwe both in the run up to, and the holding of, the 2002 presidential

As host of the 2002 G8 Summit, which will deal in substantial part with
Africa, Canada will work to ensure that what is going on in Zimbabwe does
not go unnoticed. We did so in Abuja; we did so in Harare; and we will
continue to do so now.

David Kilgour, Secretary of State for Latin America and Africa, led the
Canadian delegation to Abuja (Nigeria) and Harare (Zimbabwe) in September
and October of this year

Zim Independent

Publisher's Memo

Trevor Ncube
OF late I have heard it said so often that Zimbabwe is now a racially
polarised society. It has been suggested that race relations have
deteriorated to worrying levels. Some even draw parallels between now and
the UDI era. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Those who hold this view argue that the racial invective now synonymous with
government’s so-called fast-track land reform exercise has poisoned
relations between black and white in Zimbabwe. The racial abuse emanating
from the government-controlled press and the racist attacks on white
commercial farmers tend to lend credence to claims that black and white in
this country are at each other’s throats.

This line of thinking fails to make a distinction between the actions of a
rented mob, a partisan state media and a deliberately racist government on
the one hand and the generality of peace-loving Zimbabweans on the other.

The majority of black and white Zimbabweans do get along satisfactorily. I
would go so far as to say never before have black and white Zimbabweans had
such a singleness of purpose.

This, of course, is not to say there are no prejudiced people among us. We
do have our share of white and black racists and tribalists. Inside all of
us there is the potential to be a racist or a tribalist, depending on our
upbringing, socialisation and recent or past personal experiences. Ethnic
prejudice, some would say, is a natural condition informed by both ignorance
and fear of the person who looks different and speaks a language different
to ours.

But I would argue that we are born without racial prejudice and that this
condition is inflicted upon us by those who nurture us during our formative
years. Society is also a crucible in which we are influenced one way or the
other. Ultimately, being a racist is a matter of choice. We choose to hold
on to positive or negative influences from both society and those who bring
us up. It is also our choice whether we allow isolated personal experiences,
no matter however harsh they might be, to condition our attitudes towards
other races and tribes.

I do readily concede that we have a racist ruling party and government but
that in itself does not make every black person a racist. And not every
white person was a racist during UDI. Some made a significant contribution
to our liberation.

I can never understand anybody who looks at me and concludes that they are
superior on account of their colour or ethnic background which is a mere
accident of nature and biology. For none of us made a choice to be born
white, black, Shona or Ndebele or Tonga.

Those white Zimbabweans who feel they are being targeted and question
whether they still have a future in this country must remember that many
more black people have been tortured, maimed or killed by Zanu PF-hired
political thugs. And the truth is that more blacks are leaving the country
than whites. So while the government and state media rhetoric might be
directed at whites, blacks have borne the brunt of state-instigated
terrorism. In short, we are in this together: black, white, coloured and

I have done it! I have been to inspect the voters’ roll and had it confirmed
that I am indeed a bona fide registered voter. There is so much satisfaction
and indeed, power, in knowing that your single vote is potent and could make
a difference if used wisely. So I am now armed and ready to be courted by
any political party that espouses the principles and issues that I value.
This of course is assuming I do not drop dead before polling day!

While being told that my name was on the voters’ register gave me some
measure of comfort, I insisted on seeing it with my own eyes just to be
double sure. This is symptomatic of the mistrust I have for our electoral
system. However, the fact that I saw my name with my own two eyes is still
no guarantee that it will still be on the roll on the day I go to vote.

During last year’s parliamentary election I witnessed a number of people who
swore by their mother they had inspected the voters’ roll and had seen their
names. But they were told on the day of voting they were not on the roll!

Whether this was due to sheer incompetence or an attempt to cook the books
we will never know. “Computer error” has become the standard excuse. All
this goes to show that we need to be vigilant to eliminate the “computer
errors”, the incompetence and the cooking of books. No doubt all this is a
bit of an intrusion into your usual busy schedule. But your country
desperately needs your vote.

Following my memo last week, a number of people have confessed to me that
they had not registered or checked whether their names were on the voters’
roll. Shame on all of you who have not yet registered or set time aside to
inspect the voters’ roll. Where is your sense of patriotism? I consider this
the height of irresponsibility and hope that you will soon make amends. I do
get the feeling that there are people who just could not be bothered but
will be the first to whinge and moan when things go wrong.

The good news is that the inspection of the voters’ roll and the voter
registration exercise have been extended to December 19. So I think you owe
it to your country that before you break for the holidays you dash to your
local district office. It won’t take lots of your time but your vote might
just be the one that makes the difference. Remember every single vote

Reports coming from voter registration stations indicate that many people,
armed with as much documentary proof as possible of who they are, are still
being turnDear Publisher,

GO ahead and write, we will be on your side. It really pains me to see my
country deteriorating so badly both politically and economically. Mugabe
must go. No matter what. This is now a matter of saving the counry, not
individuals. If sanctions are imposed, it’s the country that suffers most.
So, the best thing is to get rid of the guy.

E Chinyoka,

Zim Independent


THE draft Access to Information Bill refers to a “collapse of professional
and ethical standards in the media”. Nowhere was this more evident than in
the Herald’s account of a meeting between editors and the visiting Sadc
ministerial team on Wednesday.

Wisdom Mdzungairi reported that the Zimbabwe Independent’s publisher Trevor
Ncube and his editor Iden Wetherell “claimed that when the chairman of the
war veterans and national hero, the late Cde Cain Nkala, was murdered, half
of Bulawayo youths were arrested and yet no Zanu PF supporters have been
arrested for murdering over 85 MDC supporters”.

Mdzungairi reported the team’s chair, Lilian Patel, as warning “this was the
kind of false reports that Sadc did not want to hear”.

In fact, as anybody present at the meeting would be prepared to testify,
including we hope Prof Tafataona Mahoso and Dr Ibbo Mandaza, no such
exchange took place. Neither Ncube nor Wetherell mentioned Nkala or

Ncube did refer to people killed in political violence. But he did not refer
to Nkala or events in Bulawayo. Patel’s criticism of media distortions came
in response to evidence that Patrick Chinamasa had told ZBC the ministers
admitted only coming to Zimbabwe after pressure from the EU and US. This was
completely untrue, Patel said.

Very simply the Herald lied. And Mdzungairi proved, if proof were needed,
that many Herald reporters have little or no regard for the truth.
There has indeed been a collapse of professional and ethical standards in
some parts of the media. The Herald has shown us exactly where.

Just to illustrate how unprofessional the paper can be, it reported Mahoso
and Mandaza as telling the ministers that “if anybody does not believe that
the problems bedevilling Zimbabwe do not (sic) stem from the land
imbalances, then that individual lived in a fool’s paradise”.

How can two people be quoted as making the same statement containing the
same grammatical error? Where are these reporters trained? And we can
imagine Mandaza’s delight at having his evidence lumped with that of Mahoso
who had to be twice stopped by the ministers from ranting and raving!

Do ministers make a point of not following court judgements? First we had
Patrick Chinamasa, who as Justice minister should have at least one eye on
the ball of court pronouncements, saying he was not aware of a court
recommendation that the Attorney-General’s office pursue the matter of an
alleged electoral killer employed by the CIO and would not in any case be
directed by judges.

In fact the judge had raised the matter as a polite and entirely proper
request and not a direction to the minister, but we won’t let these little
facts divert our story. The matter is now, we gather, being pursued with
great difficulty by the AG’s office.

Last week Higher Education minister Samuel Mumbengegwi was asked by Innocent
Gonese for his response to the case of deputy Transport minister Chris
Mushohwe who had failed his university exam but was passed by
Vice-Chancellor Graham Hill.

Mumbengegwi replied that Hill had told him that a university lecturer, Dr
(John) Makumbe, had vowed that as long as he was in the department in
question (political studies), Mushohwe would not pass.

“The vice-chancellor, like a renowned academic, wanted to know from
independent academics if he had failed,” the minister told the House last

“So he invited other academics from different universities to mark the
scripts and (Mushohwe) passed his exams cum grano salis. The deputy minister
pursued his Masters and he passed very well. He (Hill) could not allow him
to fail because of one particular academic, that is why he decided to
consult independent academics.”

Mumbengegwi said he hoped his statement would put the matter to rest “once
and for all”.

But Gonese was not satisfied. Was the minister aware that Justice Gwaunza
had dismissed Mu- shohwe’s defamation suit against Makumbe and others and
that she had found allegations made in the press about Mushohwe and Hill to
be true?

Mumbengegwi said he was “unaware of the ruling made by Justice Gwaunza
because I do not follow all court judgements that take place. However, I did
follow this article which appeared in two newspapers because it did touch on
two honourable people. At any rate, I believe the question of awarding
degrees is not a legal matter but an academic one.”

So there you have it. Judges should mind their own business.

Still with Higher Education, we were interested to note that the Australian
High Commissioner was induced by the Herald after the passage of the
Zimbabwe Democracy Bill in the US to say that Australia was keeping ties
with Zimbabwe open in the form of scholarships.

What he apparently did not say was that this is a source of great irritation
to the Zimbabwe authorities because the Australian government insists on
selecting the most suitable applicants instead of having the Ministry of
Higher Education decide which chefs’ sons and daughters should be sent.

Is Jonathan Moyo, in addition to his many other self-appointed tasks, now
writing speeches for the commissioner of police?

It certainly looks like it. A speech Augustine Chihuri delivered to police
graduates at Morris Depot last Thursday was redolent with Moyo-esque
absurdities such as “the ZRP has no place for officers with high political

Where does that leave Chihuri, we might well ask? His “high political
avidity” would suggest he is campaigning for high political office — other
than the one he already holds of course.

“The police will stop at nothing unless and until all terrorists engaged in
destabilisation tactics are accounted for,” Chihuri pledged.

Does this mean he is at last going to do something about the killers of
Tichaona Chiminya and Talent Mabika? Does it mean he will tell us what
happened to Patrick Nabanyama? Or the other 81 people listed this week as
dead or missing? Has he finally woken up to his responsibilities?

Apparently not. “Zimbabwe is being bludgeoned by a host of insurmountable
pressures from imperialist forces abroad and their local prodigies
(protegés?) among the general population in a bid to haemorrhage the country
’s hard-won independence,” he declared.

The “nationalistic and patriotic posture” of the police force would never be
compromised, he promised before giving us the benefit of his views on the
land question and the Abuja accord.

Doing a good impression of the ranting and raving minister whose views he
was so evidently parroting, Chihuri said “the ranting and raving tirades
peddled by the local private and international media on the
ineffectiveness of the ZRP are not only perforated and baseless, but also
manifested an astonishing degree of ignorance that the police is not a
reincarnation of the BSAP”.

Most former members of the BSAP are no doubt profoundly grateful to the
commissioner for this act of dissociation. As for upholding the rule of law,
Chihuri has evidently borrowed a leaf from the Chief Justice’s book.
It was “fictitious to create an obsession about the rule of law and
disregard issues of national sovereignty, racial dignity and decorum in
which the land issue is cardinal,” he declared. Indeed, the last thing we
could ever accuse Chihuri of is having an obsession with the rule of law!

If there was an award for the most unprofessional diplomat in Harare it
would go without contest to the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Mwanananga
Mawampanga. He said the Zimbabwe Democracy Bill passed by the US Congress
“was meant to provoke Zimbabwe so that it reacts in a certain manner to
justify American expansionist policies”.

He said the Bill was based on “lies spread by Mr Morgan Tsvangirai and the
Daily News”.

In the past we have criticised unprofessional behaviour by diplomats anxious
to demonstrate their commitment to Zimbabwe’s ruling party. Dean-for-life
Ali Halimeh’s gyrating at a Zanu PF congress comes to mind as do statements
by Chinese diplomats based in Harare. But if you examine the record you will
find that China has of late been much more circumspect in its public
statements, making a clear distinction between party and government ties.
Even Halimeh has been less demonstrative in his affection for our dead-duck

But Mawampanga, it appears, thinks Zanu PF will rule forever. The wish is
probably father to the thought. As the UN has discovered, Zanu PF and the
DRC government are partners in crime in the extraction of Congo’s resources
and the time-expiry date on the one regime has implications for the other.
But at least Mawampanga understands which rotten political mast he has tied
his fortunes to. When his ship sinks we will be happy to wave goodbye.

Jonathan Moyo’s vituperative response to his party’s defeat in Chegutu
reveals just how keenly the loss is felt. Once he starts using the word
“stupid” you know he’s as mad as hell. Why can’t he just gracefully concede
defeat in a town at the very centre of Zanu PF power.

As for those in Zanu PF who keep parroting Mugabe’s line that fast track is
irreversible, let’s remind them that over the past 10 years governments in
Eastern Europe have been trying to rescue their agricultural sectors from
the dere- liction of collectivisation policies by restoring land to their
original owners where possible, but mostly to those prepared to lease land
and make it productive. Zambia is also leasing land ravaged by previous
nationalisation policies. So is Mozambique.

Nothing is permanent in this world, especially not Zanu PF’s damaging
policies on land and the economy. When a minister next tells you there is
“no going back”, tell him we have a record of his farm that will be forfeit
to the state come a democratic government. That will definitely be “going
back” to the people.

A Zanu PF supporter and commander of settlers, Elizaberth (sic) Chiza, on
Newshour last Thursday evening openly confessed to arson — that she led a
group of settlers to burn down a farm compound at Blackmorevale Farm in
Chakari. Three hundred farm workers and their families were left destitute
and 42 sustained serious burns.

“We decided to burn the compound because the farm workers had provoked us
and they were also harbouring gold panners who were panning for gold in our
fields,” said Chiza urged on by Mashona-land West bureau chief Douglas
Rinomhota who did not bother to interview the affected farm workers.

Are we going to see her arrested, especially after Chihuri in the next news
clip threatened to deal ruthlessly with terrorists and those who propagate

Hopefully Chidyausiku and his colleagues on the bench were watching this.

Indeed, a record should be kept of all lawlessness on farms in the weeks
surrounding his judgement so people can judge for themselves whether law and
order has been restored as he so helpfully asserted.

Muckraker has been trying to work out why President Mugabe lost his temper
with Xavier Solana and Chris Patten when they met him at State House a few
weeks ago. Then we recalled the leading role these two EU diplomats played
in Slobodan Milo- sevic’s fall last year.

When the Yugoslav dictator declared himself the winner of the October
presidential election, Solana and Patten mobilised the EU against the poll
theft. They said Voijslav Kostunica had clearly won and the EU would not
endorse electoral fraud.

That declaration emboldened Yugoslav civil society to take to the streets.
Mugabe knew this background. As soon as the two EU visitors raised electoral
issues he remembered Milosevic and stormed out. This also explains why the
government media here has been paranoid about the Yugoslav precedent.

Another feature of the Yugoslav campaign is worth noting. Ahead of the poll
the opposition plastered Belgrade’s walls with graffiti saying “He’s

There was no mention of Milosevic by name. Just “He’s finished”. Apparently
it enabled Yugoslavs to conceptualise change where it had previously been
inconceivable and deliver it when the time came.

Zim Independent

Independent Comment

THERE was something sad about the visit of Sadc ministers this week. They
wanted to be useful, they hoped to make a difference, but in the end they
ended up looking like cheerleaders for Zimbabwe’s derelict leadership.

The ministers came to address a crisis of governance caused by violent and
lawless land seizures directed by the government. They were mandated in
terms of a decision taken by Sadc leaders in Blantyre in August which
established a task force of heads of state to deal with Zimbabwe.

Since then South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki has made a series of
statements which, despite the efforts of his Labour minister, Shepherd
Mdladlana, to suggest they were taken out of context, were unambiguous and
crystal clear to those he addressed.

They concerned 21 years of misgovernance north of the Limpo-po and the
crisis of legitimacy that will arise from an election that is neither free
nor fair.

Violence and breaches of even the latest amendments to the Land Acquisition
Act persist while the perpetrators of arson and violence are celebrated on
the evening news.

The Sadc ministers evidently had no problem with any of this. Although they
didn’t visit a single farm, they welcomed the Supreme Court’s profoundly
flawed judgement on land and applauded “the improved atmosphere of calm and
stability” — a chimera if ever there was one.

They “encouraged the government to continue to embark on its positive
actions”, whatever that means, and called on “all stake- holders to support
these actions to further reduce tensions”.

As none of the stakeholders have been consulted at any point, and told the
visiting team so, exactly how they are expected to “support” the actions of
a government intent upon dispossessing them wholesale is difficult to grasp.

At least the team cannot plead ignorance as to who the beneficiaries of
fast-track confiscations will be. They were given details of the sort of
well-connected individuals who head the A2 Scheme list.

The team proved easy to convince on a number of other points. Despite the
fact that the government has made no move what- soever to take up the
recommendation by the Sadc heads of state in September that it form a
multi-party parliamentary committee to consult with the opposition before
embarking on further legislation, it was “noted that although this had not
been established, mechanisms were already in place for the parties to
interact in the context of several parliamentary portfolio committees”.

The best the Sadc team could do was “encourage” all parties to make use of
these committees and to “dialogue on issues of national importance outside
the confines of parliament as well”.

Not only was the team inclined to be easily deceived, it also enga-ged in
some deception of its own.

“Ministers expressed their concern at distorted and negative perceptions of
Zimbabwe project-ed by the international and regional media and appealed to
all concerned to adopt a culture of objectivity, fairness and balance in the
discussion of and reporting on Zimbabwe.”

They offered to help correct these “negative perceptions” with “factual
information” supplied by Zimbabwean ministers!

On the day before their stateme-nt was issued the Herald’s political editor,
commenting on this weekend’s Zanu PF conference,
claimed “analysts” had said there was a need for unity “so that the party
takes on the white-sponsored terrorist MDC with one voice”.

Is that the sort of balance the ministers were looking for? They also missed
seeing Zanu PF supporters preventing the newly-elected mayor of Chegutu from
taking office.

The fact is they wanted to believe everything they were told. As Moeletsi
Mbeki of the South African Institute of International Relations pointed out
last weekend, Sadc is essentially a structurally unsound organisation
carrying little weight. One reason for that is its reluctance to stand up
for good governance and democratic principles despite its founding protocol
making full reference to these.

The visiting team’s chair, Malawi’s foreign minister Lilian Patel, said
sanctions would cause “untold suffering” to the people of the region. But
Mugabe’s policies already have.

Significantly, ministers from the two countries that have taken a firmer
line with Harare, Botswana and South Africa, left early claiming they were
over-schedule. Stan Mudenge appears to have had little difficulty in drawing
up a sterile communiqué with those that remained, devoid of reality and
manifestly blind to realities on the ground.

An international consensus is now forming around President Mugabe’s
increasingly desperate regime. It is the product not of a global conspiracy
led by the British, as Zanu PF likes to pretend, but the inevitable
conclusion to two years of hard evidence. In the meantime over 80
Zimbabweans have lost their lives, food production has plummeted, the
economy has contracted and skilled people are abandoning Zimbabwe in their

That is the “negative perception” Sadc must come to grips with because it
concerns them as much as us. If they continue to allow themselves to be
misled by spurious appeals to solidarity and fret about the red herring of
sanctions they will simply compound the crisis they were tasked to resolve.

Zim Independent

Feud threatens poll campaign

Blessing Zulu
PRESIDENT Mugabe’s home area of Mashonaland West, seen as a stronghold of
the ruling party, has been rocked by factionalism as Chegutu MP Webster
Shamu and other provincial heavyweights refused to campaign for Zanu PF’s
candidate, Stanley Majiri, in last weekend’s mayoral poll.

Shamu, the unofficial political godfather of Chegutu, refused to campaign
for his party’s candidate.

The Chegutu mayoral poll was won by the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change candidate, Francis Blessing Dhlakama.

Two factions have emerged in Chegutu — one led by the upstart provincial
chairman, Philip Chiyangwa, and the other by Shamu, the ousted chairman.

Shamu’s camp reportedly comprises Swithun Mombeshora and Edna Madzongwe,
among others. Nathan Shamuyarira, Ignatius Chombo, Chiyangwa and Paul
Mangwana are said to be in the other group. A row erupted over the election
of the candidate before the poll with the two camps submitting different

Sources said the failure by Shamu to effectively campaign for Majiri
contributed to the defeat by the MDC.

Chiyangwa refused to comment on the latest developments.

“You are from the Independent. I am sorry I cannot comment on that,”
Chiyangwa said before switching off his mobile phone.

Contacted for comment, Shamu would neither confirm nor deny the latest

“You can ask Philip Chiyangwa and his executive, they are running the show,”
Shamu said.

Political analyst Brian Raftopoulos said the divisions in Chegutu and
Masvingo were certain to hinder Mugabe’s presidential election campaign.

“I think this is a serious problem in Zanu PF and it is likely to harm
Mugabe’s campaign. Chegutu was a Zanu PF stronghold but it has fallen to the
opposition MDC. Masvingo is one of the most populated areas in Zimbabwe and
if faction-alism continues there is likely to be a low turnout or a protest
vote for the MDC. The implications are very serious for the ruling party,”
said Raftopoulos.

Sources said Shamu and Zvobgo were mulling an alliance and this would
further compound Mugabe’s problems ahead of the biggest challenge he has
ever faced in his 21 years of unbridled rule.

“The two are frustrated by the way Mugabe is treating them. They are now
sidelined despite the sterling work they did for Mugabe,” said a source.

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Zim Independent

Govt enlists donor support to avert food crisis

Forward Maisokwadzo/ Blessing Zulu
GOVERNMENT, slowly awakening to the imminent food crisis facing the country,
this week enlisted the support of the donor community to avert disaster, it
has been learnt.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) resident representative in
Zimbabwe, Victor Angelo, confirmed that he met government officials this
week to forge a way forward on how to avert
looming food shortages.

“The government requested assistance in October and we are trying to bring
in the international community to assist Zimbabwe,” Angelo said.

Finance minister Simba Makoni and Labour and Social Welfare minister July
Moyo represented government at a meeting with the United Nations’ World Food
Programme (WFP) on Wednesday which resulted in the signing of a memorandum
of understanding.

Last month WFP said it was planning a massive relief operation for more than
half a million mainly rural people who faced starvation, saying this
followed a request for help from the government.

Government’s slow reaction to grain shortages, projected earlier this
year, will result in the country experiencing food shortages as donors will
only be able to deliver maize after three months notice.

“The deal has been signed, yes, but logistical and transportation
problems will delay maize deliveries,” a commodity broker said.

Government, which drafted Makoni to spearhead the negotiating team with the
donor community, will see supplies run out before the end of this month as
official stocks are below the usual levels for the time of year.

The US-based Famine Early Warning System Network (Fewsnet), warned that as
of November 23 only 96096 tonnes of maize remained in the official reserves.

‘The level is too low for the time of the year, prompting fears that the
available official stocks in the country could run out before the end of
December,” said Fewsnet, a project run by the US Agency for International

The network said the stocks could dwindle to nothing unless 150 000 tonnes
of planned government maize imports and 60 000 tonnes of intended WFP maize
imports started arriving in the country.

Acute foreign currency shortages and bureaucratic bungling resulted in
government failing to source the tendered 150 000 tonnes before shortages
hit the country.

Experts said 150 000 tonnes of maize imports were required before the end of
the current marketing season in March 2002 to meet consumption requirements
and restore strategic grain reserves to recommended levels of 500 000

Movement for Democratic Change shadow minister for Agriculture, Renson
Gasela, said: “The situation on the ground is terrible. The number of people
who require food assistance throughout the country is well over a million.”

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