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Daily News

Heavy army presence in rural Matabeleland worries villagers

12/19/01 11:05:06 PM (GMT +2)

From Mduduzi Mathuthu

THE government has quietly moved army units and militia men into parts of
Matabeleland following the death of the war veterans' leader, Cain Nkala,
last month, sparking fears of repression against Zanu PF's opponents.

The deployment in Lupane, Tsholotsho and parts of Matobo, described by the
government as a response to growing terrorism in the region, has raised
fears of a clampdown on President Mugabe's opponents ahead of the
Presidential election.
Three Members of Parliament, Lovemore Moyo (Matobo), Abednico Bhebhe (Nkayi)
and Mtoliki Sibanda (Tsholotsho) - all of the opposition MDC - told The
Daily News they had received reports of the presence of soldiers in their

Bhebhe said: "In Nkayi, Zanu PF has not only deployed the army, but we have
seen former dissidents pardoned by Mugabe before the Unity Accord in 1987
leading a terror campaign against villagers."

He said the former dissidents had been granted access to council and the
District Development Fund vehicles which they were using in their terror

A former dissident recently died as a grenade he intended to throw into a
nightclub where MDC supporters were meeting blew him up instead.

Moyo said headmen in his area had reported visits at night by soldiers
telling them to persuade their people to vote for Mugabe or risk being

In a province where some of the worst repression was witnessed, the MPs said
the new wave of terror was Zanu PF's ploy to remain in power at all costs.

The fears have been worsened by the Minister of Home Affairs, John Nkomo,
who told delegates to the weekend Zanu PF conference in Victoria Falls the
troop deployment was in response to terrorist attacks on Zanu PF officials.

"The enemy is employing terror tactics and, as the government of Zimbabwe,
we have to activate our security to curb terrorism," Nkomo said.

"So there is nothing sinister about sending security to any part of our
country. We have not deployed mercenaries, but Zimbabweans to hunt and bring
terrorists to justice, the American way."

Mugabe, who attacked the MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, several times, spoke
of protecting poor peasants from attacks and threatened his opponents with
physical retaliation.

More than 20 000 people, mostly poor peasants in rural Matabeleland, were
killed by North Korean-trained 5 Brigade soldiers in the early 1980s.

Mugabe has said he regrets the killings but the genocide has inspired a
protest vote in the region against his party which retained only two
parliamentary seats out of the 23 contested in Matabeleland last year.

At the conference, Mugabe sounded a warning to his opponents: "It (the
presidential election) is not like the June 2000 parliamentary elections,
which was like a football game where I was the central striker.

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."

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Daily News

Intelligence agent disarmed at Tsvangirai's rally

12/19/01 11:01:49 PM (GMT +2)

From Patrick Mwale in Chipinge

MDC security officials arrested and disarmed a 22-year-old man believed to
be a military intelligence agent shortly before MDC president, Morgan
Tsvangirai, was to address a rally in Chipinge at the weekend.

The State agent, who later confessed he was a soldier based in Chipinge, had
managed to sneak through security checkpoints into the grounds where
Tsvangirai addressed the rally.

A loaded firearm, believed to be a service pistol, was seized by MDC
officials and later handed over to the police.

An MDC security official raised the alarm after he noticed the pistol
protruding from the soldier's jacket during a brief commotion at the
entrance to the grounds next to Gaza Stadium.

The man was immediately dragged to safety as several angry MDC supporters
bayed for his blood, accusing him of being a government-hired assassin.

The man is alleged to have confessed that he belonged to the Zimbabwe
Intelligence Corps and had carried the firearm for his own protection.

Tsvangirai announced at the rally his party and Zanu Ndonga had agreed to
field one presidential candidate against President Mugabe next March.

"Mugabe has failed the country and should step down and concentrate his
energies on writing his memoirs.

"The country is a total mess and the people are living miserable lives,"
Tsvangirai told more than 15 000 supporters at the rally.

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Daily News

ZCC condemns violent, politicised land reform

12/19/01 10:56:17 PM (GMT +2)

Staff Reporter

The Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) has denied they fully endorsed the
government's land reform exercise.

The government-controlled The Herald newspaper and the Zimbabwe Broadcasting
Corporation reported yesterday that the ZCC stood solidly behind the
government's land redistribution exercise.

The reports came after a ZCC delegation met President Mugabe on Monday.

In statement, the ZCC said the government had distorted comments made by
Bishop Sebastian Bakare, chairman of the ZCC delegation.

"Bakare told the Press that the Church is in full support of the need for
land distribution which is long overdue.

What the church leaders are concerned about is the way in which it has been
done, the politicisation of the exercise, the violence accompanying it and
the lack of supporting infrastructure to make it sustainable.

"The reports, therefore, in The Herald, on ZBC and ZTV of 17 and 18
December, saying the Church has given its full endorsement of the government
land resettlement programme are not correct."

The ZCC said they met Mugabe to express their concern on escalating
violence, the proposed electoral amendments and restrictions on Press
The ZCC said they were concerned about the proposed restrictions on the
media, which Mugabe said would still be implemented.

"The position of the ZCC has always been that Press freedom is to be
encouraged to enable balanced and accurate reporting of national issues by
mass media," said the statement.

The ZCC proposed to host a meeting of political leaders, including Mugabe,
at which all stakeholders would commit themselves to a peaceful, free and
fair election.
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Daily News

Judges clash over Dulini-Ncube

12/19/01 10:44:27 PM (GMT +2)

By Pedzisai Ruhanya

High Court judge, Justice George Chiweshe, on Monday came under fire from
the Attorney General (AG)'s Office, for denying bail to Fletcher
Dulini-Ncube, the MDC Member of Parliament for Lobengula-Magwegwe, despite
insufficient evidence linking the MP to the murders of Cain Nkala and
Limukani Luphahla of Zanu PF in Bulawayo last month.

Nickiol Mushangwe of the AG's Office made the submissions before Justice
Wilson Sandura in the Supreme Court after Dulini-Ncube appealed against
Chiweshe's ruling.

Sandura subsequently granted the MP bail.

Dulini-Ncube was released from Khami Prison late yesterday, but complained
about his health. He is diabetic.

He said: "I am not feeling well. The prison doctor never physically examined
me. My diabetes is not stable and I am going to see a doctor immediately.
However, the prison staff treated me excellently."

Mushangwe said: "It is respectfully submitted that the learned judge in the
court fundamentally misdirected himself in arriving at the ruling that he

With respect, there are a number of disturbing basic misdirections which go
to the root of Chiweshe's ruling.

They caused a miscarriage of justice in that a proper candidate for bail was
denied same and is, therefore, languishing in remand prison unnecessarily."

He said Chiweshe misdirected himself when he said in his ruling "for the
purpose of this application it is not required that the court considers the
merits or otherwise of these allegations. I will, therefore, assume for the
purpose of this application that the allegations are true."

Mushangwe said in adopting that reasoning, Chiweshe overlooked or lost sight
of a basic principle covering bail applications.

He said the court must first decide whether the allegations were true.

"The court must also consider whether the allegations are supported by
tangible evidence.

As it is, the learned judge relied on the facts which were elicited from
Dulini-Ncube's co-accused, Khetani Augustine Sibanda and Remember Moyo.

"Apart from the alleged incriminating evidence of the two co-accused, there
does not seem to be any evidence linking Dulini-Ncube to the commission of
the offences.

Any competent judicial officer would have found it pertinent to call for the
evidence of those two witnesses to ascertain what role, if any, Dulini-Ncube
played in the commission of the two grisly murders," he said.

Mushangwe said Chiweshe misdirected himself when he said there was a
possibility and motive of Dulini-Ncube interfering with the witnesses and

"With the greatest respect, the learned judge ought to have gone further to
point out on what basis he arrived at that conclusion.

The State on its part asserted that there was a risk that Dulini-Ncube, if
released on bail, would interfere with investigations, but that assertion is
bald and unsubstantiated by the evidence of prior conduct," he said.

Dulini-Ncube's lawyer, Agmos Moyo of Coghlan Welsh and Guest, said Chiweshe
erred in denying his client bail.

Mushangwe said Chiweshe misdirected himself when he ruled that Dulini-Ncube
was likely to abscond if admitted to bail.

"Quite contrary, the learned judge failed to give adequate consideration to
the fact that Dulini-Ncube surrendered himself to the police when he got
wind of the fact that they wanted to interview him.

This conduct is not consistent with a person with a tendency to escape

"Although Dulini-Ncube is facing serious charges, the learned judge ought to
have considered that there is very scanty evidence linking him to the
commission of the offence," Mushangwe argued.

Criticising the police's conduct, he said it was important for the police to
avoid the tendency of arresting in order to investigate.

"The law dictates the police should investigate in order to arrest.
Pre-trial incarceration is undesirable, especially in a case such as this
one where there is no direct evidence linking Dulini-Ncube to the commission
of the offence," Sandura said.

He said Justice Lawrence Kamocha granted bail to Simon Direen Spooner,
another accused person in the matter, early this month and the State appeal
was dismissed with costs by Supreme Court judge, Justice Simbarashe
Muchechetere, last week.

"Taking into consideration that Dulini-Ncube and Spooner are facing the same
allegations with similar facts or circumstances, it would be just and proper
that he be admitted to bail on the same conditions.

There must be uniformity in the application of the law," Mushangwe said.

Dulini-Ncube was ordered to deposit $100 000 with the Registrar of the High
Court in Bulawayo, surrender his passport to the court, not to interfere
with State witnesses and police investigations.

He is to report to Hillside police station three times a week on Mondays,
Wednesdays and Fridays between 8am and 8pm, reside at Number 7 Oxford Road,
Hillside in Bulawayo and surrender as surety title deeds of his house to the
Registrar of the High Court in Bulawayo.

Chiweshe, a former brigadier and director of legal services in the Zimbabwe
National Army, was appointed to the High Court by President Mugabe early
this year. He is former freedom fighter.

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From Amnesty International

Zimbabwe: Amnesty International calls for a strong line from the

19 December, 2001

With the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) teleconference set for
20 December, Amnesty International reiterates its call for all possible
international influence to focus on persuading the Zimbabwean government to
reverse its policy of political violence and intimidation.

"The situation in Zimbabwe is getting worse day by day as the Presidential
elections draw nearer. The government of Robert Mugabe is determined to
remain in power by any means, including harassment, arbitrary arrests,
assaults and killings of anyone who stand in their way," the organisation
said. "This is not about land reform but about rampant torture by the state
and its proxies to bludgeon dissent."

An Amnesty International delegation recently ended a visit to the country
where it met with victims of torture and beatings, human rights activists,
farmers and farm workers, as well as members of the ruling Zimbabwe African
National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party, the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) and the Zimbabwe Police Force and army.

Amnesty International concludes that the government of Zimbabwe is using
informal, but state-sponsored militia - comprising land occupiers, so-called
'war veterans' and supporters of ZANU-PF - as proxy forces to brutalize and
displace farm workers and to assault real or perceived members of the


In one of the most disturbing cases, Augustus Chacha, an MDC youth activist
who was scheduled to meet the Amnesty International delegation, was found
dead in a reservoir in Gonye village near the town of Mberengwa. No one has
been charged in relation to his killing, which his family believes was


The delegation also interviewed torture victims from the Chimanimani area in
northeastern Zimbabwe. In mid-November 2001, "war veterans" and ZANU-PF
supporters, allegedly coordinated by the Central Intelligence Organisation,
abducted a man who asked to remain anonymous. They beat him and a friend
into unconsciousness with whips, fists and electrical cords, then urinated
in their victims' faces and threw sand in their eyes, while questioning them
about their activities in the MDC. When the victims regained consciousness,
their torturers placed them on the road, under the tyres of a Landrover and
threatened to run them over if they did not swear allegiance to ZANU-PF.

Arbitrary Arrests

Opposition activists have also been subject to what Amnesty International
considers to be politically-motivated arrests and prosecution. Some twenty
MDC officials and staff members in Bulawayo were arrested in November and
December 2001 in relation with the abduction and murder of Cain Nkala,
leader of the local branch of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans
Association. Amnesty International condemns Cain Nkala's political killing,
and calls for an impartial, thorough investigation of all political killings
in Zimbabwe. The High Court of Zimbabwe has heard the stories of four of the
detainees - Kethani Sibanda, Remember Moyo, Sazini Mpofu and Gilbert Moyo ?
as they described how police tortured them into implicating themselves and
six other MDC officials, including MDC MP Fletcher Dulini Ncube. Whilst in
prison, Fletcher Dulini Ncube's health deteriorated rapidly. He lost sight
in both eyes, and hearing in an ear, due to the denial of appropriate food
and needed medicines for his diabetes.

Suppression of the Right of Assembly

The Amnesty International delegation also witnessed the selective
suppression of the right to assembly. On 22 November, police arrested and
detained 33 people trying to march down a Harare street in a peaceful
demonstration against proposed changes to Zimbabwe's electoral law. Armed
riot police assaulted protestors with batons, and arrested them for
obstructing traffic. The charge was then changed to public violence. A few
days later, a number of "war veterans" staged a march through central Harare
escorted by two police vehicles. This police partiality echoed the police
escort given to "war veterans" who rampaged through downtown Bulawayo on 16
November, beating bystanders and burning down the MDC party headquarters

Threats to the Judiciary and Media

Amnesty International is also extremely concerned about the erosion of the
independence of the judiciary and threats to the independent media,
including arbitrary arrests of journalists and attempts to suppress the
circulation of their newspapers. The government has also tried to legitimise
illegal acts of repression by introducing draconian new laws, such as the
Public Order and Security Act that allows indefinite detention and the
Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Bill 2001 bill that
criminalizes journalism not authorized by the state.

"The current pattern of severe human rights violations should be fully
recognised as part of a political campaign to eliminate opposition and
secure a victory for ZANU-PF in the upcoming Presidential elections," the
organisation said, reiterating its call made after the announcement of the
Commonwealth-brokered Abuja agreement in September. "Free and fair elections
in 2002 will be measured by the extent to which the Zimbabwe government
provides an atmosphere in which all people, including opposition candidates
and supporters, are free to express their political beliefs, peacefully
assemble and campaign without the fear of violence."

Amnesty International acknowledges that the Commonwealth takes the situation
in Zimbabwe seriously, but fears that a statement released at the conclusion
of a visit to Zimbabwe in October 2001 was diluted under pressure from the
Zimbabwean authorities. The statement did not reflect the very real and
deteriorating human rights crisis that continues in Zimbabwe.

Evidence gathered by the recent Amnesty International delegation to Zimbabwe
indicates strongly that the government of Zimbabwe is not responding to
international pressure to comply with its regional and international human
rights obligations, including by taking effective and decisive action to
stop its state-sponsored militias from intimidating and attacking opposition
activists, farmers, farm workers and other Zimbabwean citizens.

Amnesty International said the Commonwealth should send election observers
to Zimbabwe at the earliest possible date, and in far larger numbers than
last year's delegation to compensate for Zimbabwe's ban on monitors coming
from the European Union and international electoral groups.


The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group was set up in 1995 to monitor
adherence to the 1991 Harare Declaration, which outlines the organisation's
core principles, including respect for fundamental human rights, the rule of
law and the independence of the judiciary.

After the human rights situation in Zimbabwe was made an extraordinary
agenda item of the March 2001 meeting of CMAG, the Commonwealth sought to be
allowed to visit the country. The Commonwealth's concerns were repeated at
the September 2001 meeting of CMAG. An initiative of President Obasanjo of
Nigeria later in September resulted in the Abuja agreement between the
government of Zimbabwe and the Commonwealth, in which respect for the rule
of law and a cessation of land invasions was promised in return for the
release of British funds to support the process of land reform.

On 11 December 2001, President Robert Mugabe announced that Presidential
elections would be held in March 2002. At what amounted to ZANU-PF's first
election rally, President Mugabe called on his party's supporters to "move
like a military machine and move forward....[w]e have to go away from this
conference a transformed people. This conference should transform us into
soldiers of ZANU-PF".
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From MDC mailing list

18 December 2001

Zanu PF locks mayoral office

This morning shortly after 8am, a group of Zanu PF supporters descended on
Chegutu mayoral offices.  They proceeded to order the workers there out of
their offices and locked the offices.  They told the workers that the
offices would not be opened until the people’s elected mayor, Francis
Blessing Dhlakama quit office.

Mayor-elect Francis Dhlakama immediately contacted the Officer-In-Charge of
Chegutu police, Paul Chinakidzwa who said there was nothing he could do.  He
declared that his hands were tied on the matter and he could not move
against the rowdy Zanu PF supporters.

Dhlakama stood for MDC in the Chegutu mayoral elections held 8-9 December,
where he won against Zanu PF’s Stanley Majiri.  This continued naked
aggression on the people’s mayor is uncalled for.  Dhlakama is still to be
sworn-in by the acting Town Clerk Gerald Mudimu.

We call upon Zanu PF to respect the rule of law and we warn them that the
people of Zimbabwe are sick and tired of their violence.  We further advise
them that hiring thugs, no matter how much you pay them, is not employment

18 December 2001

MDC National Conference in Gweru

The Movement for Democratic Change will hold its Annual National Conference
in the Midlands city of Gweru on Saturday 22 December.  The Conference will
be held under the theme “Jobs, Peace and Prosperity.”

The constitution of the MDC requires that a National Conference be held
annually.  This conference provides the platform for MDC’s National Council
to report to the people annually between Congresses.  1,000 delegates are
expected.  The National Conference will review the progress of the party’s

The National Conference is composed of:

a) the National Council;
b) all members of the Provincial Executive Committees;
c) all members of the National Executive of Women; and
d) all members of the National Executive of Youth.

Learnmore Jongwe
Secretary for Information and Publicity

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The Bermuda Sun

Exclusive: Doctor’s gesture of solidarity

By Jeannine Klein
(News from 2001-12-19 Edition)

A LOCAL doctor has shaved his head in an act of solidarity with beleaguered
farmers in his homeland of Zimbabwe.
Dr. Matthew Arnold wants to show his countrymen that his thoughts are with
them during President Robert Mugabe’s controversial land redistribution
programme, in which white-owned farms are often violently seized and given
to blacks.
Dr. Matthew Arnold, an anesthetist at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital for
the past 15 years, was born in the Marondera farming district of Zimbabwe in
1953. He moved to Bermuda 15 years ago, but many friends who farm as well as
his parents remain there.
“I asked my father why he stayed and he said because that’s where he feels
at home and that’s where he has lived and built up a life for himself. What
he didn’t say is he is probably too old to move. His actual words were, ‘I
would rather die in the sun than go and live anywhere else,’” Dr. Arnold
Around 4,000 white farmers own about one-third of Zimbabwe’s farmland while
eight million blacks live on the rest. The land redistribution campaign
began in earnest in February 2000 and since that time pro-government
militants have illegally occupied more than 1,700 of the 4,600 white-owned
farms in Zimbabwe.
Dr. Arnold visited the country in June for his parents’ golden wedding
anniversary. His father is a retired banker, but the land redistribution
programme affects everyone, not just farmers. “Recently, a couple of people
who run a farm not far out of Harare, who were basically kicked off their
farm, landed on my parents doorstep with the clothes they were standing in
and no more,” Dr. Arnold said.
Dr. Arnold says the country was a carefree place while he was growing up but
now iron gates and barbed wire on top of all the houses, buildings, and
schools are grim reminders of a new reality. Beyond the land seizures, the
economy is a disaster and crime has spiralled out of control. At the farms
themselves, there is a sense of uneasiness.
“Although the farms I went to at the time hadn’t been occupied, neighbouring
farms had. It’s difficult to describe the situation without a lot of emotion
because just to say a farm hasn’t been invaded today doesn’t mean it won’t
be tomorrow and things can get very nasty,” he said.
Farm invasions
The doctor returned to Zimbabwe again in August for his 30th high school
reunion and was there during a handful of violent farm invasions.
“We had to actually drive back through the town of Chinoyi where 21 white
farmers had been arrested and put into police holding cells,” he said.
Those farmers were arrested on August 6 on charges of inciting violence
following an incident at a white-owned farm. Police allege they assaulted
President Robert Mugabe supporters, who had taken over a farm, but the
farmers say they merely went to the assistance of a colleague under siege by
the squatters and were attacked first.
“They all had their heads shaved and police took their clothes away. In
order that they were not to be victimized on their release, which took quite
awhile, a lot of the local farmers shaved their heads in sympathy so when
they were released it wouldn’t be known who had been in custody and who hadn
’t,” Dr. Arnold said.
The farmers were finally released on strict bail conditions on August 22,
but when Dr. Arnold returned home to Bermuda, he began to toy with the idea
of shaving his head to show his support for the farmers. He finally pulled
out a razor last month and now plans to send a photo of himself in a
Christmas greeting to friends who remain in Zimbabwe.
“It wasn’t that I wanted to draw a great deal of attention to myself; it was
a subtle message so people would know that my head had been shaved. When I
send it to farmers they’ll know there is solidarity with them because we
still have quite a few farming friends, people who I went to school with,
people my parents know.”
Dr. Arnold says he understands the plight of the blacks in Zimbabwe, but is
against the often violent methods used to seize land.
“There is a historical aspect to it of uneven distribution of wealth, not
just land, but wealth in general and I think we would all like to see a more
even distribution of wealth. Realistically, of course, there won’t be
completely even distribution of wealth — there certainly are historical
imbalances to be redressed — but we want to see it done without violence and
through the support of the international community,” he said.

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From The Daily Telegraph (UK), 19 December

Mugabe outlaws opposition and bans free speech

Harare - Legislation that has been likened to the worst excesses of the apartheid era in South Africa will be pushed through Zimbabwe's parliament this week, effectively outlawing President Robert Mugabe's political opponents and stifling free speech. The new laws allow Zimbabwe's police to ban political gatherings at will and prosecute anyone who attends a meeting where the government is criticised. They effectively ban opposition political parties and end freedoms of association, speech and movement. They are expected seriously to impair efforts by opposition activists to mount a credible campaign to challenge Mr Mugabe in the presidential elections in April. Details of the Public Order and Security Bill, which was tabled this week, emerged yesterday as a commercial farm manager, Duncan Cooke, became the latest victim of Mr Mugabe's thugs. Mr Cooke, 25, was attacked on Butleigh Farm, 80 miles north of Harare, by six government officials who were inspecting his employer's land for resettlement. When he asked them to move their car to make way for a tractor he was slashed with a panga, receiving serious head wounds. Outside the private hospital in Harare where Mr Cooke underwent surgery there was alarm on the streets about the new legislation, which will affect the lives of everyone in the country, including tourists, who will be arrested if found not to be carrying passports.

Tawanda Hondora, chairman of Lawyers for Human Rights, said: "Criticising the president will be a criminal offence, and any political party campaigning in presidential elections will seek to do that, and the sentence is 10 years' imprisonment, or a heavy fine, or both." Mr Hondora said the effect of the new laws would be to ban any political party which challenges the ruling Zanu PF, including the key opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change. Anyone who publishes any information likely to "excite people or express dissatisfaction with the president, the government or the police" will commit an offence and could face 10 years' jail. Mr Hondora said: "This bill is worse, by far, than any previous colonial legislation in this country or in apartheid South Africa. It is unprecedented and ends all freedoms of movement, speech and association guaranteed under the constitution." The bill also introduces heavy sentences for petty acts, such as throwing a stone at a government building, which can be construed as terrorism and could carry a sentence of 20 years' or life imprisonment. Anyone who complains about the way a policeman discharges his duties could go to prison for 10 years. Under the new legislation police can detain suspects for seven days before bringing them to court and bail would automatically be denied for those accused of terrorism, murder and rape.

The government also hopes to push through other repressive legislation which will make it a criminal offence for any journalist, foreign or domestic, to continue working if not approved and licensed by the government. Another piece of pending labour law will outlaw all strikes. The government said the inflation rate had gone higher than 100 per cent for the first time in the nation's history, despite price controls enforced since October. Mr Mugabe said in his state of the nation address yesterday that America's effort to impose sanctions on him and his senior aides was "repugnant" and "provocative". The US Congress has passed a bill, still to be signed into law, allowing the White House to impose sanctions on Mr Mugabe and any aides found to be behind political violence. He blamed Zimbabwe's "erstwhile colonial oppressor Britain" for masterminding a European Union move towards sanctions.

From ZWNEWS: If you would like a copy of the Public Order and Security Bill, please ask. It will be sent as a Word attachment to an email message - size 208 Kb, or roughly four times the size of the average daily ZWNEWS.

From The Natal Mercury (SA), 18 December

What does Bob's bill aim to put a stop to?

President Mugabe's government aims to proscribe the following political activities with its Public Order and Security Bill:

An individual will commit a crime by being present at a gathering where words critical of the government are used. Criticising the president will be a criminal offence, punishable by 10 years in jail. Anyone who publishes any information likely to "excite people or express dissatisfaction with the president, the government or the police" will commit an offence and could face 10 years in jail. Throwing a stone at a government building could be construed as terrorism, punishable by 20 years or life in jail. A policeman will be able to arrest any Zimbabwean or tourist found without an identity card or a passport. Donors could find they will not be able to deliver food to starving people, as that could be construed as usurping the functions of the government, which would be a crime.

From ZWNEWS, 19 December

Dulini released

Fletcher Dulini-Ncube, MDC MP and Treasurer, who was detained in early November, was finally released yesterday. He was granted a Supreme Court order for his release on Monday, but administrative obstructions put up by the state delayed his release for almost 24 hours. Dulini-Ncube was one of a number of MDC members arrested in November in a police swoop on people the government accuses of complicity in the death of Cain Nkala, a Matabeleland war veterans' leader. Dulini, who is an insulin-dependent diabetic, was denied adequate drugs and medical attention during his detention, and suffered sight and hearing loss as a result. His freeing follows the release on Saturday of Simon Spooner. He too was granted a Supreme Court release order, but faced similar administrative obstructions before being freed. The fate of at least eight other MDC members, thought still to be in detention, is uncertain. The charges of murder against Spooner, Dulini-Ncube and others still stand, despite the state having no evidence to bring against those accused, after the only two "witnesses" retracted their confessions, which they said were extracted under police torture. Members of Nkala's family, and other sources within the Matabeleland war veterans' organisation, say that Nkala's murder was an "inside job", and may also have been related to fears that Nkala may have been about to tell what he knew about the involvement of senior Zanu PF officials in the abduction, and probable murder, in June 2000 of Patrick Nabanyama, an MDC election agent.

From Business Day (SA), 18 December

Mugabe condemns US sanction moves

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe said the US effort to impose sanctions on him and his top aides was "repugnant" and "provocative," in his state of the nation address on Tuesday. "Frankly, the action by the American legislators is a bold insult to the people of Zimbabwe, who had to take up arms and die in their thousands, not only to set this country free but also to ensure the full repossession of it," he told parliament. "We are not at war with the United States, and so the behaviour of these legislators is repugnant, provocative, and indeed a gross violation of international law," said a tired-looking Mugabe, who occasionally stumbled over words in the speech.

The US Congress has passed a bill, still to be signed into law, allowing the White House to impose sanctions on Mugabe and any aides found to be behind the political violence that has wracked Zimbabwe for almost two years. Mugabe also took aim at the European Union, which is also considering sanctions over rights abuses under his government. He blamed Zimbabwe's "erstwhile colonial oppressor Britain" for masterminding the move toward sanctions, and said "it cannot be the rule of law that is the matter, for here they massacred thousands as they colonized our country and pillaged our resources."

In his speech, Mugabe insisted that violence in the southern African state has subsided - despite repeated reports to the contrary by rights groups. "I wish to urge all Zimbabweans to maintain peace and calm as a norm of our society, and proceed to vote in the self-same atmosphere during the forthcoming presidential elections," he said. The bill would allow for travel bans on government elite and restrictions on their business dealings in the United States. The EU is pressing Zimbabwe to address problems of violence associated with land reforms, along with thorny issues involving press freedom, judicial independence and election observers at the March presidential poll. The EU has moved toward imposing sanctions under the Cotonou agreement that governs its relations with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries.

From VOA News, 18 December

Maize shortage in Zimbabwe raises starvation fears

There are warnings that Zimbabwe only has sufficient maize (corn) to last until the end of the month and help is urgently needed. Hundreds of thousands of people in Zimbabwe could face starvation if the country does not import food within the next two weeks. That is the warning in a report by a food relief organization. The South Africa-based Famine Early Warning System says that stocks of Zimbabwe's staple food, maize, might run out by the end of the month. The relief organization says there are only 90,000 tons of maize in Zimbabwe and that the country needs 230,000 tons immediately. A U.N. agency, the World food Program, last week appealed urgently to international donors for 60,000 tons of maize to avert famine. Warnings of food shortages have been made several times during the year, but the government has claimed there will be enough domestic production. In the past two months, however, senior government officials have admitted unofficially that imports will be needed.

Economists say the crisis in Zimbabwe has arisen because of bad weather during the growing season and because of invasions of commercial farms by militant groups in support of President Robert Mugabe. Violence associated with the invasions has led to more than 70,000 farm workers being forced to flee and made destitute, says a Zimbabwe human rights group, the Human Rights Forum. The group blames the government, which it also accuses of unleashing a campaign of intimidation and harassment of the opposition. The forum says that in November there were six political murders, brining the total during the year to 41. The Human Rights Forum says there also have been 307 political kidnappings since January, and more than 2,000 cases of torture. It says almost all of those who have been killed have been supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). The leader of the MDC, Morgan Tsvangirai, is challenging Mr. Mugabe in presidential elections due to be held in March next year.

From The Mail & Guardian (SA), 18 December

Political chaos takes its toll on Zim’s wildlife

'What they don’t understand is that the wildlife is in such a delicate state that if you leave it another four months there’ll be nothing left' says a leading conservationist

Zimbabwe’s privately run wildlife areas, or conservancies, were set aside for conservation and tourism on land unsuitable for agriculture after a drought devastated the country’s south-east regions nearly 10 years ago. The Bubiana Conservancy, a sanctuary for the endangered black rhino, was set up in 1993. All rhinos in Zimbabwe are state-owned and 38 black rhinos were moved to Bubiana from areas where poaching was rife. Two years ago, in response to demands for land, Bubiana set aside 64 000ha for Campfire (communal areas management programme for resources), a sustainable utilisation project that helps communities raise money and food from tourism and hunting. The conservancy also offered land with irrigation potential for the resettlement of 300 families.

Months of negotiations ensued before the government agreed to the proposals, and a handful of families moved on to the allocated land. Over the past 18 months, however, other parts of Bubiana have been the target of land invasions and poachers. An estimated 30 000 animals have been killed by poachers. Twelve rhinos have been found in snares and a calf was burnt to death in one of several poachers' fires that have killed countless smaller animals. Under the September Abuja Accord, brokered by Commonwealth ministers, Zimbabwe agreed not to settle people on conservancy land. But in the past two months the numbers of invaders have increased substantially.

At the end of October a group of Commonwealth ministers visited Zimbabwe to monitor the government’s adherence to the accord. During a speech to dignitaries on October 27 Josiah Hungwe, the governor of the Masvingo area — in which Bubiana partly falls — said: "The latest instructions from above are that nobody should be found squatting on ungazetted properties, in terms of the law. The exercise to remove these people from conservancies has started ... " Three days later invaders at Bubiana were indeed loaded into army and police trucks, but there had been little preparation for their evacuation. The Agricultural and Rural Extension Department had not pegged out the new plots set aside for them, and the people appeared confused by the demand to leave their huts.

Guy Hilton-Barber, owner of the conservancy’s Barberton ranch, was as surprised as the invaders to see the police arriving. "I expected they would be staying here another six or eight months, until they’d reaped their crops," he says. "But to our astonishment the forces arrived and were instructed to load them on to trucks and burn their houses. The place was just a pall of smoke. It looked like a war zone." The invaders were taken to a holding point, from where they were to be moved to their newly allocated land. Nine days later they were still waiting. As news of the evacuation filtered back to Harare, it appeared that Hungwe had acted without the knowledge of the MPs for the region, or of governor Cephas Msipa, under whose jurisdiction the other half of Bubiana falls. The Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Regare Gumbo, ordered the invaders back to Bubiana. On November 8, a week after the Commonwealth delegation had left, the people were moved back to the land.

On returning to the conservancy, the invaders found their huts had been burned by the police. Bent on revenge, they torched one of the conservancy’s safari camps and its staff compounds. Those staff members who hadn’t fled were assaulted. The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation reported that the conservancy had offered land and had then reneged on the agreement and burned out the squatters. It was not mentioned that the order for their removal came from Hungwe. The invaders started to believe propaganda that, while Hungwe might have been involved, he was bribed by members of the conservancy. Explains Hilton-Barber: "This belief came about because the army and police arrived here with no petrol and not enough trucks. We had to let them use some of our trucks and diesel. We were seen to be orchestrating the whole thing and accused of bribing the governor to cooperate."

Despite assurances from the local MPs and governors that they want the conservancy to continue operating and that poaching will not be allowed, two weeks ago "war veterans" and a 70-strong crowd arrived at one of the lodges and demanded that all the staff be sent home. With all the staff gone, poaching has been given a completely free rein. A spokesperson at Bubiana estimates it has already lost about 30 000 animals and more than 200 000 trees in the past 18 months. While MPs have said that the invaders will be removed from Bubiana after the first sowing season in six months’ time, the people themselves appear unaware of this.

Bubiana and its neighbouring conservancies, Chiredzi and Save, used to be popular tourism destinations that employed more than 1 000 people and provided the country with a substantial source of foreign exchange. Says Digby Nesbitt, chairperson of Chiredzi conservancy: "The government is saying, ‘yes, we need conservancies and tourism is important’, but the priority is the next elections. What they don’t understand is that the wildlife is in such a delicate state that if you leave it another four months there’ll be nothing left. "Even if the poaching and invasions stopped tomorrow it would take another 10 years to recuperate. The rate the animals are dying, I don’t believe this conservancy will last another six months."

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