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

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"Today was really special!!! was invited to a congress in Gweru. We were
honoured to be there.  There i was the only white lady squeezed in a tent
with hundreds of MDC supporters.  Security was tight but the atmosphere
electric, jovial and confident.  there were delegations from every province
and we were all there to hear Morgan and others speak.  I was amazed at the
quality of the speeches, full of humour, vigour and an overwhelming
confidence in winning the elections.  I was overcome with emotion at the
enthusiasm and bravery of the crowd all dressed in their MDC garb. Morgan
was outstanding and humble and I felt more certain than ever that this is
going to be the new captain of our ship and we are going to sail into a new
era. So don't give up yet i think our future is set just make sure you get
out there and put your cross in the right place. "

Zimbabwe opposition urges polls intervention
GWERU, Zimbabwe, Dec. 22 — Zimbabwe's main opposition party urged Southern Africa and the international community on Saturday to ensure free elections as it squares up against President Robert Mugabe's government early next year.
 ''We (call) upon the international community and SADC in particular to demand that the Zimbabwean government conducts elections in accordance with SADC's electoral norms,'' the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said at the end of an annual congress.
       The 14-member Southern African Development Community (SADC) has been sharply criticised for failing to take tough action against the seizure of white-owned farms by supporters of Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party and for ignoring the intimidation of political foes.
       The MDC also demanded that Mugabe's government allow independent local and international organisations to observe and monitor the presidential vote, scheduled for March.
       MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai told the conference earlier that Mugabe was using ''rogue elements'' of war veterans, ZANU-PF party youths and army personnel in a campaign of violence ahead of the elections.
       ''It is clear that the government is determined to see to it that the presidential elections are violent. The personal safety of the individual citizen is imperilled by state terrorism,'' Tsvangirai told 1,200 delegates in the central city of Gweru.
       ''But no matter how much they beat our people, we will defeat them through the ballot box. Even if you threaten to crush us you will not succeed because the winds of change are unstoppable,'' he added.

       Riot police patrolled the streets of the city on Saturday and surrounded the hotel where the one-day conference was being held, but there were no violent incidents.
       On Friday Tsvangirai told Reuters the conference would focus on Zimbabwe's deepening political and economic crisis and fine tune his bid to unseat Mugabe, who has ruled the southern African country since its independence from Britain in 1980.
       The MDC meeting comes exactly a week after Mugabe launched his bid for re-election with a fiery declaration of ''real war'' against his political opponents.
       ''We don't regard this election as a battle,'' former trade union leader Tsvangirai told Reuters on Friday. ''We see it as an opportunity for the people to choose a leader of their choice to pull them out of this crisis we find ourselves in.''
       Mugabe -- under growing international pressure to end violent land seizures and stop intimidation of the opposition and media -- said last Saturday ZANU-PF would act like an army in its quest to defeat the MDC at the polls.
       At least 31 people, most of them opposition supporters, were killed in political violence before parliamentary elections in June last year, which the MDC narrowly lost.
       ''By mid December this year a total of 83 of our members, supporters and sympathisers had lost their lives through the Mugabe...terrorism,'' Tsvangirai told the MDC conference.
       The chaos over Mugabe's often-violent land reform programme and legislation aimed at restricting the opposition and media has put Zimbabwe on a collision course with former colonial power Britain and most of the global community.
       Commonwealth ministers in London called on Mugabe on Thursday to allow international monitors into the country to oversee preparations for the presidential polls, where he faces an unprecedented stiff challenge from Tsvangirai.
       Nigeria said on Saturday that President Olusegun Obasanjo, who brokered a deal to end the seizure of mainly white-owned farmland last September, would meet Mugabe in Harare on Monday.

Zimbabwe opposition: We will win

GWERU, Zimbabwe (Reuters) -- Zimbabwe's opposition leader says attacks by President Robert Mugabe's government on his movement will not deny it victory at the 2002 election.

Morgan Tsvangirai told an annual congress of his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) that Mugabe was using "rogue elements" of veterans, ruling ZANU-PF party youths and army personnel in a campaign of violence ahead of the March presidential vote.

"It is clear that the government is determined to see to it that the presidential elections are violent. The personal safety of the individual citizen is imperilled by state terrorism," Tsvangirai told 1,200 delegates in the central city of Gweru.

"But no matter how much they beat our people, we will defeat them through the ballot box. Even if you threaten to crush us you will not succeed because the winds of change are unstoppable," he added.

Riot police patrolled the streets of the city on Saturday and surrounded the hotel where the one-day conference was being held, but there were no violent incidents.

On Friday Tsvangirai told Reuters the conference would focus on Zimbabwe's deepening political and economic crisis and fine tune his bid to unseat Mugabe, who has ruled the southern African country since its independence from Britain in 1980.

The MDC meeting comes exactly a week after Mugabe launched his bid for re-election with a fiery declaration of "real war" against his political foes.

"We don't regard this election as a battle," former trade union leader Tsvangirai told Reuters on Friday. "We see it as an opportunity for the people to choose a leader of their choice to pull them out of this crisis we find ourselves in."

Impact on neighbours

Mugabe -- under growing international pressure to end violent land seizures and stop intimidation of the opposition and media -- said last Saturday ZANU-PF would act like an army in its quest to defeat the MDC at the polls.

At least 31 people, most of them opposition supporters, were killed in political violence before parliamentary elections in June last year, which the MDC narrowly lost.

"By mid December this year a total of 83 of our members, supporters and sympathisers had lost their lives through the Mugabe...terrorism," Tsvangirai told the MDC conference.

The chaos over Mugabe's often-violent land reform programme and legislation aimed at restricting the opposition and media has put Zimbabwe on a collision course with former colonial power Britain and most of the global community.

Commonwealth ministers in London called on Mugabe on Thursday to allow international monitors into the country to oversee preparations for the presidential polls, where he faces an unprecedented stiff challenge from Tsvangirai.

Nigeria said on Saturday that President Olusegun Obasanjo, who brokered a deal to end the seizure of mainly white-owned farmland last September, would meet Mugabe in Harare on Monday.

Delegates to the MDC meeting would be seeking solutions to the slew of economic problems facing ordinary Zimbabweans, including record inflation of 104 percent and unemployment of over 60 percent, MDC officials said.

Zimbabwe's woes are already having a negative impact on the economies of its neighbours, particularly South Africa where the rand has sunk to record lows, due partly to events in Zimbabwe.

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Bush Signs Bill To Pressure Zimbabwe,1282,-1399750,00.html

Saturday December 22, 2001 12:00 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush signed into law Friday a bill designed to pressure Zimbabwe to stop seizing white-owned farms and turning them over to landless blacks.

Bush signed the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001, which requires the African nation to adopt land ownership protections in order to continue receiving U.S. aid.

``My administration shares fully the Congress' deep concerns about the political and economic hardships visited upon Zimbabwe by that country's leadership,'' Bush said. ``I hope the provisions of this important legislation will support the people of Zimbabwe in their struggle to effect peaceful democratic change, achieve economic growth and restore the rule of law.''

The government of President Robert Mugabe did not seem inclined to halt the practice. His government's plan for farm seizures was upheld by Zimbabwe's highest court earlier this month.

Unless Zimbabwe changes its laws, the bill would order U.S. representatives to international financial institutions to try to block aid or debt relief to the country. The White House would also have to ensure that elections planned for March meet democratic standards.

Bush expressed reservations about those provisions, saying he felt they undermined his foreign affairs authority. ``I will construe the provision as being subject to my exclusive authority to negotiate or vote in international financial institutions,'' he said.

If changes are made, the Treasury Department could help find debt relief for the country. It would also allow the release of $20 million for land reforms and $6 million for election monitoring.

Armed ruling-party militants have occupied more than 1,700 white-owned farms since March 2000, demanding they be redistributed to blacks. The government has listed some 4,500 properties - about 95 percent of farmland owned by whites - for nationalization without compensation.

Last month about 800 farmers were warned that they had three months to vacate their land.

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Saturday, 22 December, 2001, 17:39 GMT
Nigerian president to visit Zimbabwe

Nigerian officials say President Olusegun Obasanjo, a key mediator in Zimbabwe's political crisis, will visit Harare on Monday for talks with President Robert Mugabe.

Mr Obasanjo helped to broker a deal earlier this year under which Zimbabwe agreed to end the violent seizure of white-owned farms in return for a payment of $360m from Britain.

The visit comes as Zimbabwe faces possible suspension from the councils of the Commonwealth for failing to halt the occupations and intimidating political opponents.

Mr Mugabe, who is currently visiting Libya, has dismissed the threat, saying the Commonwealth would not agree to what he described as the demand of a mad British government.

From the newsroom of the BBC World

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President Mugabe dismisses Commonwealth protests on Zimbabwe
President Robert Mugabe, currently visiting Libya, rejected fresh protests by the Commonwealth about violence in Zimbabwe and intimidation of political opponents and the media, a government-run newspaper reported Saturday.
       ''The Commonwealth is not just white people, you see, the Anglo-Saxon, and this is what the British want it to be,'' Mugabe told The Herald.
       Zimbabwe's worst economic crisis since independence in 1980 has been deepened by the often violent occupation of at least 1,700 white-owned farms by ruling party militants and a program to nationalize some 4,500 farms without paying compensation.
       Scores of people have been killed since militants began occupying white-owned farms in March 2000. Human rights groups and opposition officials have accused Mugabe of orchestrating the violent occupations to crush political opposition in rural districts.
       Mugabe, who faces an uphill race in presidential elections scheduled for March, said he did not think Zimbabwe would be kicked out of the councils within the 54-member Commonwealth.
       ''I don't think the Commonwealth will act in that irregular manner. There are rules and regulations and people don't just take action because the mad British government has demanded that they do so,'' Mugabe said.
       Commonwealth ministers on Thursday urged Mugabe to begin implementing an agreement reached earlier this year that includes ending the intimidation of opposition supporters, halting the occupation of white-owned farms and ensuring a free and fair election campaign.
       They stopped short of suspending Zimbabwe from the councils of the Commonwealth, but effectively placed the country on notice until their next meeting scheduled for Jan. 30.
       The ministers said in a statement that the ''situation in Zimbabwe constitutes a serious and persistent violation of the Commonwealth's fundamental political values.''
       Suspension from the Commonwealth councils would mean no Zimbabwean representative could take part in any Commonwealth meeting, but would not amount to full suspension from the organization itself. Full suspension can only be ordered at a meeting of Commonwealth heads of state — next scheduled for March 2-5 in Australia.
       (Copyright 2001 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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From VoA News, 22 December

Bush signs Zimbabwe sanctions Bill

President Bush has signed into law a bill calling for economic sanctions against Zimbabwe unless that country's government ends anti-opposition violence and the seizure of white-owned farms. Under the new law, the United States will oppose any new international credits or debt relief for Zimbabwe unless the violence ends and Washington judges that next year's presidential elections are free. Under the law, the United States could also impose travel bans on President Robert Mugabe and his closest political aides. However, the legislation calls on the U.S. government to lobby for international economic aid to Zimbabwe if changes occur in that country. In London, Thursday, Commonwealth Ministers took initial steps towards suspending Zimbabwe over the land seizure and political violence issues. The ministers will further discuss the situation in Zimbabwe when they convene again next year. Zimbabwe's agriculture has faltered over the government's violent campaign to seize white-owned land and redistribute it to black supporters. Supporters of President Mugabe have also attacked opposition activists. Mr. Mugabe has denounced the sanctions, saying his two-year-old policies are the only way to ensure a fair distribution of land.

From The Globe & Mail (Canada), 22 December

Zimbabwe issued warning

Could be suspended from Commonwealth unless it stops violating democratic values

London – The Commonwealth put Zimbabwe on notice yesterday that it could face suspension if it doesn't halt "persistent violation" of democratic values and the rule of law. Foreign ministers from the eight-nation Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, including Canada, Britain, Nigeria and Australia, put Zimbabwe formally on the group's agenda for the first time. That step could lead toward more serious action such as suspension of technical assistance, trade restrictions and even suspension from the 54-nation Commonwealth. "The situation in Zimbabwe constitutes a serious and persistent violation of the Commonwealth's fundamental political values," the ministers said in a statement, after expressing concern about "continued violence, occupation of property, actions against the freedom and independence of the media and political intimidation."

"This is a very strong step forward in terms of the Commonwealth process," Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Manley said, insisting that "it could lead to anything up to and including expulsion. "What you've had in Zimbabwe is intimidation of opposition parties, intimidation of the judiciary, interference with the media," Mr. Manley said. "You've had people arrested who were opposition members, for no apparent reason. . . . If that's not a suspension of democracy, what is?" Canada has already imposed new visa restrictions on Zimbabwe's citizens and tightened up the rules on support from the Canadian International Development Agency. But Mr. Manley said he didn't see much point in imposing economic sanctions on Zimbabwe. "Mr. Mugabe has imposed sanctions himself," he said. "His economy is in a complete tailspin. What more could the international community do to his country that he hasn't done already?"

The ministers' statement is the strongest yet from the Commonwealth since the crisis began in Zimbabwe last year. President Robert Mugabe has orchestrated the often violent occupation of hundreds of white-owned farms by his political followers and has used intimidation in an effort to destroy his political opponents. Scores have been killed in the confrontations. The land seizures, aimed at redistributing farmland to landless peasants, have resulted in an economic catastrophe. Agricultural production has fallen sharply; Zimbabweans are fleeing the country in search of jobs in South Africa, and the country faces severe food shortages.

Concern is growing that the situation will deteriorate further in the runup to presidential elections in March. Already, Mr. Mugabe has proposed a law that would restrict freedom of the press severely and another that would allow only civil servants to monitor the vote. He suffered a setback yesterday when Zimbabwe's Parliament adjourned for the balance of the year without passing either of the controversial laws. Yesterday, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw called the new measures, including the threat of imprisonment for criticizing the President, "preposterous." The Commonwealth has been monitoring the deteriorating situation for months, but until yesterday hadn't formally taken up the plight of Zimbabwe. The Action Group said it will review the situation again at its next meeting on Jan. 30 and expects improvements from Zimbabwe, including assurance that formal invitations will be issued to international election observers.

From The Financial Times, 22 December

Election criticism angers Harare

The Zimbabwean government yesterday reacted angrily to criticism by the Commonwealth group of states of its preparations for presidential elections in March. Stan Mudenge, Zimbabwe's foreign minister, said the Commonwealth's meeting in London on Thursday combined "illegality with arrogance". Speaking on Zimbabwean state radio, Mr Mudenge described as "acts of mischief" the meeting at which a ministerial action group expressed deep concern at Zimbabwe's alleged violation of the rule of law and political values. Mr Mudenge insisted Zimbabwe was following the Abuja Agreement, signed in September as a framework to bring order to the country's land reform programme and restore the rule of law. The Commonwealth, meeting expressed concern about continued violence in Zimbabwe, occupation of property, restriction of the media and political intimidation. The US and European Union have also expressed concern.

The Commonwealth meeting coincided with the visit of a South African contact group to Harare which played down talk of a rift between the two countries. Alexander Downer, Australia's foreign minister and a member of the Commonwealth action group, said the Commonwealth would consider suspending Zimbabwe on January 30 "if nothing changes for the better": Zimbabwe is in breach of the Harare declaration (on democracy and human rights) and the principles of the Commonwealth." He said President Robert Mugabe was seeking to win an election that, normally, he would not win. "The only way he can get re-elected is by ensuring the electoral process is distorted."

From The Cape Times (SA), 21 December

Mugabe recalls Zim troops from DRC

Harare - President Robert Mugabe is recalling thousands of soldiers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to help him fight a crucial presidential election in March next year, said officials on Thursday. They said there would be no fresh troop deployments in the DRC and all Zimbabwean soldiers had also been barred from taking leave from now until after the conclusion of the presidential election. The decision to recall some of Zimbabwe's 10 000 troops stationed in the DRC comes barely a week after Mugabe started deploying troops in opposition strongholds in Zimbabwe's southern provinces to protect his supporters from "terrorism". Ministry of Defence officials, interviewed on condition of anonymity, said there would be no fresh troop deployments in the DRC as the soldiers were needed at home to help Zanu-PF win the election. "The president has indicated he needs the entire army for the forthcoming election. We are therefore recalling most of the soldiers but they will be sent back," said an official. All efforts failed to get official comment from the Zimbabwean army spokesperson Mbonisi Gatsheni.

Meanwhile, violence broke out in Zimbabwe's high density suburb of Budiriro on Wednesday when dozens of young people on the government's controversial national youth service programme descended on the suburb and started attacking and harassing residents. Reports said the youths, clad in their military fatigues and patrolling several Harare suburbs ostensibly on a "clean up campaign" arrived at Budiriro shopping centre in a bus and started forcing everyone in sight to sweep. They viciously assaulted anyone who refused to comply. Angry residents retaliated by throwing stones at them.

From The New Zealand Herald, 22 December

Mugabe wavers under mounting pressure

Harare - Zimbabwe's Parliament has adjourned for the year without passing two bills seen as a bid by beleaguered President Robert Mugabe to curb media freedom and to block independent monitoring of elections next year. "We have adjourned because the parliamentary legal committee needed more time to consider the access to information bill and the general laws amendment bill," Information and Publicity Minister Jonathan Moyo said. Mugabe is under growing international pressure over the violent takeover of white-owned farms by landless blacks and also faces the biggest political challenge of his 21 years in power in elections next year from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Moyo said earlier that Mugabe's ruling Zanu PF party was eager to pass a media bill that threatened to jail journalists who violate the latest media regulations, and to bar foreign journalists from working in Zimbabwe. The Government has also proposed amendments that would ban independent election monitors and forbid private voter education. The changes, in a general laws amendment bill, would also deny voting rights to millions of Zimbabweans abroad. As well, the parliamentary committee was considering a public order and security bill that critics say is meant to suppress opposition to Mugabe ahead of the election set for March.

Paul Themba Nyathi, an MDC Member of Parliament, said the proposed laws had been attacked in debate this week. "There was an outcry. We told them [government] to go and reconsider the bills," Nyathi said. Political analyst Lovemore Madhuku said the Government, with enough seats in Parliament to force the measures through, may have delayed to divert world attention from Zimbabwe. Commonwealth ministers meeting in London stepped up pressure on Zimbabwe yesterday by putting it formally on their agenda – the first step toward possible suspension. And in Harare, a high-level delegation from South Africa's African National Congress was meeting with senior officials of Zanu PF to seek an "amicable solution to the Zimbabwe problem". "There are too many eyes on them at the moment including the ANC. They have nothing to lose by waiting for another three weeks before parliament resumes," Madhuku said. He added that Mugabe could also use his presidential powers to force the bills through. Under the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act, Mugabe can amend existing laws and create new ones without putting them to Parliament. Mugabe, aged 77 and in power since 1980, faces a stiff challenge at the polls from MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, whose party has gained popularity due to a political and economic crisis widely blamed on government mismanagement. Mugabe accuses the MDC of being a puppet of his local and international opponents led by former colonial ruler Britain.

Comment from The Independent (Bangladesh), 21 December

Commonwealth’s task

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer makes a reasonable point when he asserts that the question of what has been happening in Zimbabwe should figure in the programmes of the Commonwealth. As we write, the meeting of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), of which Bangladesh is a member, has already taken place in London. Obviously, CMAG, being the special body it is, has been taking matters of a serious note into consideration preparatory to the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Australia. And the reason why the Commonwealth has acquired new importance in these times has been the very active role it has been playing over the years, and especially since the New Zealander Don McKinnon took over as Secretary General of the organisation in 1999. In a number of ways, the Commonwealth has shown its willingness and ability to reinvent itself in order to be able to stay in tune with the needs of contemporary times.

It is in this context that it becomes important for the Commonwealth to review such issues as impediments in the way of democracy in such countries as Pakistan and Fiji. For the organisation, the job becomes certainly more crucial when it is expected to come up with suggestions relating to what should be done about conditions which militate against the principles which have always sustained it. It is here that the issue of Zimbabwe comes in all over again. Certainly, Zimbabwe has had regular elections and so on that score one can hardly take its government to task. The caveat here, though, is that all too often the government of President Mugabe has appeared to flout democratic norms with the clear objective of consolidating its hold on power. The bigger issue, however, which quite mars Harare’s position in the Commonwealth today relates to the forcible seizures of land belonging to white farmers in the country.

 That involves the very basic question of human rights. For the Commonwealth, the perspectives will thus be clear: to what extent is the organisation capable of disciplining a country which creates indiscipline among its own people? The Downer view is one that cannot be waved away. In fact, if the Commonwealth means to be a purposeful body of nations, it should go in for a full observation of, and consequent action on, human rights conditions within its member countries. The Commonwealth has yet, despite the sceptics, a relevance one cannot ignore.

Comment from The Zimbabwe Independent, 21 December

Mugabe's image and the 'cement analogy'

"Political image is like mixing cement," said United States Democratic Party politician Walter Mondale. "When it's wet, you can move it around and shape it, but at some point it hardens and there's almost nothing you can do to reshape it." This statement rings true of Zanu PF. Analysts say the ruling party approached its trumpeted fifth annual national people's conference in Victoria Falls with hackles up aiming to revamp its arthritic structures to confront next year's watershed presidential election, but emerged from the gaseous gathering wholly unreconstructed and even more case-hardened. Party officials had suggested Zanu PF wanted to repackage itself to cut a new and winning impression during the crucial poll, which could consign the ruling aristocracy to political oblivion. President Robert Mugabe urged his supporters to leave the conference a "transformed people" in order to effectively campaign for him to retain the reins of power. Mugabe, who as expected got an endorsement as Zanu PF's candidate at the conference, faces opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai in the election slated for March.

A bloody electoral combat is looming. Violence and intimidation still hold sway across vast swathes of the political landscape. State agencies are currently stepping up the heat on Tsvangirai as the political temperature rises ahead of the poll. Last week the MDC leader was arrested twice for possessing a two-way radio system without a licence. His home in Strathaven in Harare was ransacked by a gang of armed police detectives and the riot squad. Analysts note the Zanu PF conference was organised to provide Zimbabwe's vociferous politicians and their cacophonous followers a stage to advertise their liberation struggle credentials and growing proclivity for intimidation - without offering any solutions to the national crisis other than land and price controls. At the end of the three-day get-together - which was chock-full of sound and fury as well as the customary hostile rhetoric - President Robert Mugabe, true to form, scaled new heights of war-like rhetoric. "What we are now headed for is real war, a total war," Mugabe said as he put his presidential campaign into overdrive. "This is war, this is not a game. This is the third Chimurenga. 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.

MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube said Mugabe's pronouncements were shocking. "Mugabe was basically inciting violence," he said. "Statements like these can only come from dictators or fascist leaders, not democrats." Ncube said the words Mugabe chose to rally his supporters were calculated to set them on a violent path. "He was actually saying go out and use brute force because our victory can only be achieved through means other than peaceful ones," Ncube said. "Of course, he tried to refer to the ballot box for damage-limitation purposes but his message was aimed at inciting violence against the MDC, which he wants his supporters to treat as mortal enemies." Mugabe had also warned the presidential election would be a different ball game. "This is a strong and new game. Last year we never spoke of the command centre, but now we are talking about it and that shows the battle ahead of us. We should move like a military machine," he insisted. Ncube said this was dangerous nonsense. "It's really tragic that we have a president whose responsibility is to uphold the national constitution and protect all peaceful Zimbabweans, speaking in military terms as if we are in a war situation." Mugabe's statements came as the army intensified its crackdown across the country claiming it was trying to curb terrorism. Ncube said the "heavy military presence" was aimed at instilling fear among the voters. "The youth brigades trained under the national service programme have been deployed in different areas and they are not doing community work as they claim but beating up civilians," he said.

However, Professor Mwesiga Baregu of the Southern African Political and Economic Series (Sapes) defended Mugabe's military oratory. "My own interpretation is that his speech basically used metaphors," he said. "It was a figure of speech in which he was calling for everybody to be disciplined and brace themselves for a struggle and not to be lackadaisical." Baregu said the belligerent vocalisations should not be interpreted literally. "Some people might be tempted to think it was a declaration of real war, a hot war. He was just calling for discipline and a no retreat strategy." But Ncube maintained Mugabe made it clear it was a "real war".

Furthermore, throughout the meeting Mugabe and his officials propagated bellicose anti-MDC denunciations and hawked racist messages. Critics said the usual hate speeches were at play. Cadre after cadre thundered "pasi neMDC" and branded opposition followers as "sell-outs" as if they were all programmed by Mugabe. The president asked: "Are those in cities Zimbabweans? If they are, why did they behave in a manner contrary to their parents in rural areas?" This sort of language was familiar during the liberation war. Not to be outdone, newly-appointed Zanu PF political commissar, Elliot Manyika, in military gear, beat the drums of belligerence. "Our machinery is now sharp and we are saying to the MDC, here we come, we are going to crush you. We are raring to go," he said. "We are standing under the flag of war." Zanu PF chair John Nkomo also featured among the top list of political performers when he described Zanu PF as a Concorde which had reached its altitude with Mugabe as the captain. "There are no emergency brakes on this Concorde to change the captain. Captain Mugabe is in command and our destination is nigh," he said.

Observers said Zanu PF delegates to the conference were buried for three days under the sludge of populist rhetoric on land, the state of the economy, sanctions, intra-party affairs and the MDC. Ringing resolutions were passed on a wide range of issues. It seems a flurry of hysterical insults against the British and other officially-specified adversaries stole the show as Mugabe stepped up his vitriol and paraded presidential outrage. Like a fanatic, whom Winston Churchill described as someone who won't change the subject or his mind, Mugabe persisted with attacks on British Prime Minister Tony Blair this time calling him a "crook, scoundrel and liar". But as prominent US political analyst, George Will once observed: "A politician's words reveal less about what he thinks about his subject than what he thinks about his audience."

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From News24 (SA), 20 December

Commonwealth warns Zim

London - Commonwealth ministers warned Zimbabwe on Thursday it faced suspension from the 54-nation group next month unless it stopped a wave of violent farm occupations and halted media and political intimidation. The eight-strong Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, the group's democracy watchdog, ended two years of hand-wringing by formally putting Zimbabwe on their agenda for action - the first step to possible suspension. "The situation in Zimbabwe constitutes a serious and persistent violation of the Commonwealth fundamental political values and the rule of law," CMAG said in a statement. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said it would be "open to CMAG to suspend Zimbabwe from councils of the Commonwealth", which is made up mainly of former British colonies, at its next meeting on January 30. Canadian Foreign Minister John Manley also said suspension would be "on the table".

The ultimatum came three months before President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain 21 years ago, seeks re-election in March. Mugabe, who faces growing international pressure over the violent take-over of white-owned farms, says the redistribution of farmland to landless blacks is a vital step towards redressing colonial-era injustices. But the United States and the European Union both edged closer this month to imposing sanctions against his government unless he implements a September pledge to halt the violence and hold free and fair elections.

Commonwealth ministers expressed deep concern at "continued violence, occupation of property, actions against the freedom and independence of the media and political intimidation". They also called on Mugabe to allow international monitors into the country to oversee preparations for the vote. Straw said observers should have been in place already. Although CMAG has repeatedly expressed concern at events in Zimbabwe, it has never officially put the country in its sights - confining action to nations where clear constitutional violations such as military coups have taken place. Two years ago it suspended Pakistan from the Commonwealth's main forums after President Pervez Musharraf took power in a bloodless coup. Fiji, suspended last June after a coup by self-styled Fijian nationalists, was readmitted on Thursday.

The decision to step up pressure on Zimbabwe appeared to be a victory for Australia, Britain and Canada who have pressed for tougher steps against Mugabe's government, in the face of greater caution from African nations. Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, whose country will host a Commonwealth summit in March that could be overshadowed by the crisis in Zimbabwe, said he was pleased the group had taken a firm stand. "This is a critical moment and it is important the Commonwealth is engaged," he said. Botswana's Foreign Minister Mompati Merafhe said the Commonwealth was concerned over a range of issues in Zimbabwe. "The rule of law, perceived intimidation of the press and opposition - these are areas which people are concerned about and these are areas where progress will be expected," he said.

Below is the relevant part of the CMAG statement. Parts of the statement not shown here dealt with Fiji,The Gambia, Pakistan,and the Solomon Islands.

From The Commonwealth, 20 December

Seventeenth Meeting of The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group on the Harare Declaration (CMAG), Marlborough House, 20 December 2001

Concluding Statement

Members of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group on the Harare Declaration (CMAG) met in London on 20 December 2001. The participants were: the Hon Lt. General Mompati Merafhe, MP, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Botswana (Chairman); the Hon Alexander Downer MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia; the Hon Morshed Khan, MP, Foreign Minister of Bangladesh; the Hon Billie Miller, MP, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados (Vice-Chairperson); the Hon, John Manley, MP, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada; the Hon Tan Sri Dato' Musa bin Hitam, Special Envoy of the Prime Minister of Malaysia to CMAG; the Hon Sule Lamido, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nigeria; and the Rt. Hon Jack Straw, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom.



10. CMAG used the occasion of its Meeting to discuss the situation in Zimbabwe. It recalled that on three previous occasions the Group had expressed concern about conditions in Zimbabwe.

11. The Group reaffirmed its full support for the process established by the Abuja Agreement, reached at the initiative of President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, and expressed its deep appreciation for the President's ongoing mediation efforts. It also expressed its support for the initiative by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), as well as the involvement of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in assisting with land reform in Zimbabwe.

12. CMAG noted that the repeated efforts of the Secretary-General to engage with the Government of Zimbabwe had been unsuccessful. It also noted that the Government of Zimbabwe had not agreed to receive a Commonwealth Ministerial Mission proposed by CMAG in the Commonwealth spirit of dialogue and co-operation.

13. The Group reiterated its deep concern about the ongoing situation in Zimbabwe especially the continued violence, occupation of property, actions against the freedom and independence of the media and political intimidation. It agreed that the situation in Zimbabwe constitutes a serious and persistent violation of the Commonwealth's fundamental political values and the rule of law as enshrined in the Harare Commonwealth Declaration.

14. CMAG agreed to draw the attention of the Government of Zimbabwe to its commitments under the Abuja Agreement and under the Harare Commonwealth Declaration. It strongly urged the Government of Zimbabwe to proceed vigorously with implementation of these commitments.

15. The Group noted the public indication by the Government of Zimbabwe of its willingness to invite international observers, including from SADC, the OAU, CARICOM and the Commonwealth, to be present for the forthcoming Presidential Elections. It expressed the expectation that formal invitations will be issued in sufficient time for an early deployment of such observers.

16. CMAG decided to include Zimbabwe on its formal agenda and to review the situation in that country at its next meeting on 30 January 2002.

Next Meeting

17. The Group agreed that it would convene in London for its next meeting on 30 January 2002.

Commonwealth Secretariat, Marlborough House, London SW1, 20 December 2001

From BBC News, 20 December

Double setback for Mugabe

Commonwealth ministers have agreed to discuss Zimbabwe formally for the first time early next year. Correspondents say this could be the first step to a possible suspension. President Robert Mugabe received another setback when parliament adjourned for the year, without passing two controversial bills. The government had been keen to pass the laws which introduce tight controls on the media and ban independent election monitors before the Christmas break. Information Minister, Jonathan Moyo had said this would leave next year clear to prepare for presidential elections in March. But it now appears that parliament will need to reconvene in January in order to pass the bills.

The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group will meet on 30 January to discuss the democratic situation in Zimbabwe. The grouping of mostly former British colonies has expressed concern at the political violence in Zimbabwe but correspondents say it has never before officially put the situation there on its agenda. "The situation in Zimbabwe constitutes a serious and persistent violation of the Commonwealth's fundamental political values and the rule of law," the CMAG statement said. Both the European Union and the United States Congress have been taking steps towards targeted sanctions and even neighbouring South Africa has warned the crisis could drag down the economy of the entire region.

The legal committee of Zimbabwe's parliament will consider the controversial bills and debate will resume next year. Britain's Foreign Secretary Jack Straw called some of the new measures "preposterous", such as the threat of imprisonment for criticising the president. Correspondents say this would seriously curtail the opposition's ability to campaign in the run-up to the presidential elections. In a BBC interview, Mr Straw also accused the Zimbabwean leader of seriously damaging the whole of the economy of Southern Africa by his actions, and of using the Afghanistan crisis as a cover to strengthen his grip on power.

The opposition has sharply criticised the new laws during debate this week, said MP Paul Themba Nyathi. "There was an outcry. We told them (government) to go and reconsider the bills," Mr Nyathi told Reuters news agency. Under the proposed media bill, only Zimbabwean citizens would be allowed to work as journalists and even they would need journalism degrees and government licences. Any breach of the regulations, which includes reporting unauthorised accounts of cabinet discussions, could lead to fines and even imprisonment. Amendments to the electoral laws would only allow civil servants - susceptible to government pressure - to monitor elections and prevent non-governmental bodies from conducting voter education. Millions of Zimbabweans living abroad would also be denied the vote. As the economy has deteriorated, many Zimbabweans have fled to South Africa and elsewhere and many of these are thought likely to support the opposition.

From The Financial Gazette, 20 December

Officials admit Mugabe a bad choice for poll

"It's only an ill-advised fly that follows a corpse to the grave," said a senior ZANU PF central committee member, summing up the mood here over President Robert Mugabe's decision to seek re-election in next year's watershed ballot. While the state media raved and ranted over the four-day talk shop, senior Zanu PF officials and party stalwarts who spoke to this reporter on the sidelines of the conference were clearly worried about Mugabe's gamble in the March election. Speaking in hushed tones and away from the ears of hordes of state security agents who swamped this otherwise quiet and hot resort town, they made clear Mugabe needed nothing short of a miracle to shrug off a fierce challenge posed by Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

"Campaigning for Mugabe is a futile exercise. People are tired of him and it is clear to all of us that the writing is on the wall," the central committee member said. "It will be a miracle if we win. I have already prepared myself for the shock and I believe that this is our last annual conference in power," the official said. He and others who were interviewed by the Financial Gazette predictably declined to be named for fear of being victimised. The haggard looks of most of the 7 000 or so delegates and the tense and solemn atmosphere at the Elephant Hills Golf Course, venue of the ruling party's annual conference, painted an unsettling mood for Mugabe, Zimbabwe's ruler of 21 years. A Zanu PF stalwart from Matabeleland said: "I know I might sound unpatriotic but the signs are there for all to see. We are going to see another protest vote because people are still languishing in poverty. We have given people land but this has not significantly swayed the vote back to us. It is too late for us to try any new tricks."

Of concern to those delegates spoken to was Mugabe's age. He turns 78 in February next year. They said he should have allowed a younger politician to stand to save Zanu PF from a possible humiliating defeat. One delegate from the Midlands said: "He wants to be in State House up to his 83rd birthday and I don't think this augurs well for the party at this crucial time in our country's history. In Tsvangirai, the electorate sees a free person with young ideas. Even those who are against the foreign-funded MDC might be forced to vote for Tsvangirai because of the age factor. We might physically clobber the electorate but it seems they have made a decision because how do you explain our poor showing in Chegutu, a Zanu PF stronghold in Mashonaland West?" he said, referring to his party's drubbing by the MDC in the recent mayoral poll in that town.

Not even the overzealousness of officials from the Department of Information and Publicity in denying this reporter accreditation to the conference could hide the fact that all was not rosy within the ruling party as it gears itself for the do-or-die poll. Mavis Gumpo, herself in a very intolerant mood typical of her party, ordered this reporter out of the venue of the meeting, alleging that the Financial Gazette was an enemy of the state. "You have no reason to be here because your paper writes negative stories about our party and the government," Gumpo yelled at me. "This is a Zanu PF conference and you and your paper are an enemy of the state because you demonise our government. Get out of this place or else I will call security to deal with you," added the official of the Department of Information and Publicity in the President's Office.

Away from the venue of the meeting, residents and business leaders blamed the Zanu PF gathering for disrupting their normal day-to-day lives and operations. A businessman who flies tourists above the Victoria Falls claimed to have lost US$3 000 a day during the four-day jamboree because all aircraft operators had been banned from overflying the area for security reasons. "It's a loss of income of about 25 percent of our monthly turnover. We have had to refund some clients and some tourists have fled to the Zambia side because of the behaviour of some war veterans," the businessman said. He spoke as it emerged that some war veterans, Mugabe's most militant supporters who are occupying most of Zimbabwe's commercial farms, had vandalised the world-famous statue of British explorer David Livingstone at the Victoria Falls.

Bhekithemba Sibindi, a political analyst based in Matabeleland, described the Victoria Falls gathering as "a sublime mysticism of nonsense". "There was nothing new except signs that the party is going to continue with its destructive politics. How do you explain the destruction of David Livingstone's statue and the arrest of a tourist who photographed the presidential motorcade? These are signs of a violent party," he said. "The conference was staged-managed. People who presented papers on the state of the economy said nothing new. Only senior and provincial members were given a chance to talk," he said, adding: "It is also misleading for them to say the conference endorsed Mugabe (as Zanu PF's presidential candidate) because everyone knows that he was endorsed long back."

From The Cape Argus (SA), 20 December

'Party's over if Zim doesn't change course'

In a desperate bid to secure a "relatively free and fair" presidential election in Zimbabwe next March, a high-powered African National Congress delegation was due to meet President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu PF party in Harare on Thursday afternoon. The delegation, led by ANC chairperson Mosiuoa Lekota, is walking a diplomatic tight-rope as it tries to convince Zanu PF that the Zimbabwe government's current course is not in the interests of the country or the rest of southern Africa, particularly South Africa. The Mbeki administration's attempts to assist Mugabe at a government-to-government level had "not had the desired impact", Lekota said. "Anybody looking at Zimbabwe will realise that there has been a deterioration in the situation." Lekota said the ANC was now hoping to influence the Zimbabwean government's policy from within the ruling party.

From The Financial Gazette, 20 December

Mugabe races to avert new fuel crisis

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has threatened to cut fuel supplies to Zimbabwe over what Tripoli says is failure by the Harare authorities to honour an agreement hammered by the two countries, authoritative sources said this week. The disclosures came as President Robert Mugabe this week slipped out of Zimbabwe to try to avert another fuel crisis that could further dent his slim chances of winning next year's presidential elections. The sources said Tripoli threatened to stop fuel supplies to Harare after some Zimbabwean politicians questioned the move by Mugabe to offer Tripoli a stake in several state-run firms in exchange for fuel. Mugabe offered the Libyans shareholding in local firms such as the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe (CBZ) earlier this year as a reward for coming to the aid of Zimbabwe, plunged into intermittent fuel shortages since 1999 caused by the cancellation of lines of credit from former suppliers.

"This has not gone down well with some people here who thought we are selling the family silverware to foreigners, resulting in some misunderstanding between the two countries," a senior Industry Ministry official told the Financial Gazette. Libya is understood to have retaliated by demanding to be paid in foreign currency, threatening to pull the plug on Zimbabwe if the government did not meet its demand. Mugabe this week made a hastily arranged trip to Tripoli for talks with Gaddafi over the impasse. He was accompanied by Energy Minister Edward Chindori-Chininga, Industry Minister Herbert Murerwa, National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (NOCZIM) chairman Charles Chipato, NOCZIM chief executive Webster Muriritirwa and CBZ managing director Gideon Gono.

The CBZ was the financial adviser to the Zimbabwe government on the deal, hammered in July this year at the height of the fuel crisis, while the Libyan Arab Foreign Bank (LAFB) led a consortium of Libyan banks in providing funds for the fuel purchases. "They are going to discuss ways of broadening trade relations between the two countries, in particular to look at the products that we can sell to the Libyans," the source said. The Zimbabwe government-Libyan barter deal is worth US$360 million. Brokered by Mugabe and Gaddafi, funds were to be released in quarterly tranches of US$90 million and Zimbabwe agreed to finance the fuel purchases through exports to Libya of local products as well as by giving the Libyans a stake in companies. The Libyans were also expected to invest in fuel facilities such as pump stations in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe has had a fuel crisis since 1999, which is blamed on shortages of foreign currency and mismanagement at NOCZIM, a state-owned company. The crisis, threatening the viability of Zimbabwe's already crumbling industry and commerce, has spawned a spate of ad hoc measures by the increasingly isolated government. The LAFB has already acquired a five percent stake in the CBZ and is also said to have expressed interest in acquiring a stake in another state-run financial institution, which owns a commercial bank.

From Business Day (SA), 20 December

Editors reject Harare's claims

The SA National Editors' Forum (Sanef) dismissed claims yesterday by the Zimbabwean government that the SA media was trying to destabilise the southern African region by publishing "negative" stories about President Robert Mugabe. Sanef chairman Mathatha Tsedu said the Zimbabwean government should not blame the SA press for that country's bad international image but, rather, look at its own actions. "The process that Zimbabwe needs to go through to clean its image is an internal matter and the Zimbabwean government itself needs to see whether what they are doing to the country does not deserve the attention the country currently gets from the international community," Tsedu said.

He emphasised that the SA and international media would continue to look at the "rolling back" of democratic gains brought about by the long suffering of Zimbabweans during the struggle for freedom. "A sober assessment of the situation in Zimbabwe can reach no other conclusion than that the situation around freedom of media and of association in Zimbabwe is being curtailed daily and we as journalists need to highlight this," he said. Zimbabwe's next general elections are scheduled for March next year. The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group is to meet in London today to discuss the Zimbabwean crisis. Criticising the SA press yesterday, Zimbabwean Information Minister Jonathan Moyo cited coverage in Johannesburg's Sunday Times of the ruling party's congress last weekend as "a clear and present threat to regional peace and security". "All the papers are edited by white Rhodesians. Now they are trying to put on ties and claim press freedom," Moyo said.

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Zim Independent


The Eric Bloch Column

THIS column has, for many months, had little alternative but to comment,
even if frequently only indirectly, upon political issues. That that has
been so is most regrettable, for the intent of the column is to address
economic and financial matters, and this columnist has no political
interests per se, but must necessarily be conscious of the
inter-relationship between economic circumstance and politics.

I am not a member of any political party, nor do I support any, and I have
no political aspirations whatsoever. But I am very aware that what happens
politically impacts markedly upon the economy, and economic circumstance
repercusses equally markedly upon politics. Therefore, in seeking to comment
upon economic issues, regard must inevitably be had to the political

Since August 1997, hardly any political decision has been made for any
purpose other than to maximise the prospects of the ruling party retaining
its hold on power. It was to that end that government embarked upon a long
overdue programme of land acquisition, redistribution and resettlement in a
most confrontational, economically destructive manner, instead of in a
collaborative, positive way as was also then available.

That doing so would destroy much of agriculture, which has been the greatest
single contributor to the economy, was irrelevant. So too was the forfeiture
of good and harmonious international relations, and the destruction of the
foundations of a non-racial society aimed at improving well-being and
economic empowerment for all.

Government perceived its best interests to be served by creating an image
for itself of the great benefactor of the populace, rescuing the people from
alleged (but mainly non-existent) oppression, demonising the minorities in
the population, the political opposition, and most of the international

It further devastated the economy with its foolhardy and substantially
unjustified compensation package, only two months later, for a small number
of war veterans and ex-combatants and for a very great number of impostors.
The negative economic repercussions were wholly ignored, for the
establishment of a powerful and strong political support base was considered
to be the sole concern.

As the economy declined, as evidenced by falling gross domestic product
(GDP), rising unemployment, soaring inflation, worsening balance of
payments, and many other factors, government’s political needs continued to
reign supreme.

These were serviced continuously by blaming the adverse circumstances upon
others, by intensification of the political rhetoric, misrepresentation,
distortion and falsification of fact and reality, and by crisis-management
of the increasingly damaged economy.

The combination of gross incompetence in government’s direction of the
economy, and its subordination of economic needs to political dictates
resulted in innumerable economic ills which have inflicted great suffering
upon the majority of the population.

As this state intensified, the ruling party began to recognise its growing
vulnerability to voter defection. To counter this it became more and more
vigorous in its endeavours to ascribe the causes of economic collapse to the
world at large, and its opposition in particular, coupled with
implementation of measures which, it believed, would restore its voter
support base.

It focused particularly upon a concurrent increase in minimum wages
(necessary in relation to a rising poverty datum line, but beyond the
ability of many employers to pay without loss of business viability), and
the imposition of price controls.

These measures were welcomed by many, whose perceptions were that they would
be enjoying greater incomes whilst inflation would be contained by fixed
prices of basic commodities and by profit-controlled pricing of other goods.
But, in welcoming government’s actions, those who did so were then unaware
that the inevitable consequences of the price controls would be pronounced
shortages of many essentials, and ever-greater numbers of business failures
with concomitantly greater unemployment and, therefore, further and greater
hardships for more and more Zimbabweans.

Only 10 weeks after the price controls were promulgated, the side-effects
have become very evident. Sugar, cooking oil and poultry have become almost
unobtainable other than on the black market, bread is in short supply, as is
maize meal and many other products. Many businesses are now even closer to
the precipice of bankruptcy than before.

But government repeatedly demonstrates its inability to learn from its
mistakes. Still striving to evidence its alleged deep-seated concern and
caring for the masses, it now insists that no local authority increase any
charges without prior government consent, by more than 10% in 2002.

Government has already reduced most local authorities to penury by failure
to pay much of its indebtedness to them (citing Bulawayo as an example,
government continues to owe the city in excess of $400 million.

Admittedly, it did pay off some $80 million, with very great ostentation and
converting a necessity to a virtue, during the run-up to last September’s
municipal elections, but more than 80% of its long-outstanding debt remains

Now, in its desperate endeavour to conjure up voter goodwill, it is prepared
to intensify the fiscal woes of the local authorities. It is clearly of no
concern whatsoever to government that those authorities have had to bear
wage and salary increases during the last year considerably in excess of
65%, or that they are as subject to the impact of inflation upon their
operations as are all others.

It is similarly of no consequence in government perceptions, that the local
authorities have considerable need of imports, be they spares for vehicles
and for plant and equipment, chemicals for water purification, or otherwise,
and that import costs are rising exponentially in the environment of foreign
exchange shortages. Likewise, the magnitude of accumulated deficits of the
local authorities is disregarded.

All that matters to government is that the cost of living for the
man-on-the-street not rise significantly until after the presidential
election in March. But the benefit to the urban dwellers of contained
increases in municipal charges will be offset and exceeded by the
unavoidable deterioration in services provided by the local authorities,
unable to fund their essential expenditure because of the unrealistic
containment of their revenues.

Their limited resources cannot sustain the provision, at necessary service
levels, of water supply, refuse removal and city cleaning, street lighting
and traffic control, health services, and much, much more.

There must be a sharp fall-off in levels of municipal management and
rendition of essential services, for the city and town councils will not
have the required resources. Already the city of Harare has demonstrated a
gross inability to replace stolen and broken traffic lights and street
signs, eliminate the myriad massive pot-holes that exist in almost every
street, and provide reliable, continuous and adequate sewerage and water
supply services, over and above a decline of many other services.

Other local authorities are increasingly having to cut back on provision of
services and on essential developments, for they do not have the necessary
resources. The inroads of inflation upon their much-curtailed exchequers
will continue and, as they do, the local authorities will have no
alternative but to reduce services further.

This must place the health, comfort and wellbeing of their residents in ever
greater jeopardy. But, with elections only three months away, that is of no
concern to government. All that is important to it is to gain voter support
by having contained cost increases impacting upon the voters.

The heavy-handed, unrealistic constraint upon municipal revenues must
destroy or severely damage the local authority infrastructures, increase the
hardships of the communities and further worsen the distressed economy. Zanu
PF’s misguided policies are providing it with yet more victims.
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Zim Independent

Govt imposes new curbs on Zim airspace

Busani Bafana
According to a Caaz Notice to Airmen (Notam) issued last month, there will
no longer be any ad hoc flying in and out of Zimbabwean airspace as has been
the case with non-scheduled flights such as air charters. Before the new
regulations, non-scheduled flights had to submit their flight plans at least
30 minutes before flying.

Private charter operators told the Independent that the new regulations were
an unnecessary inconvenience to their operations as clients would have to
delay travelling to conform to the requirements. There are fears that the
new requirements, coming on the back of a ban in Victoria Falls of any
flights below 5 000 feet during the recent Zanu PF conference, would deter
the last remaining charter operators from flying to Zimbabwe.

“All non-scheduled flight operations into or out of any airfield in Zimbabwe
(manned or unmanned) are required to submit flight plans for each leg of the
flight at least 24 hours before the flight,” the Notam said.

“Filing of flight plans over the radio is no longer permitted. This includes
the use of the Harare frequency 122,5 Mhz. Any aircraft that does not comply
with the above requirements will not be allowed into the airspace.”

The notice further said special cases like emergencies would be considered
on their merits.

Players in the aviation industry said the move followed other developments
such as the banning of landing on military airfields, most of which are
unmanned. If any operators wish to land there, approval first has to be
sought from the Ministry of Defence.

“This has affected some people coming from places like Botswana who file a
flight plan from there and forget to submit a return on the same day
resulting in them being inconvenienced,” said one operator who asked not to
be identified.

“So from now on you cannot fly at will. This will certainly affect emergency
charters.” Some farmers in Chipinge were reportedly arrested when the Notam
came into effect last month because they were not aware of the requirement.
Caaz chief executive officer, Karikoga Kaseke, had not responded to
questions faxed to him by the Independent this week.

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The Age, Melbourne

Zimbabwe slams Commonwealth meeting
HARARE, Dec 21 AFP|Published: Friday December 21, 6:14 PM

Zimbabwe's foreign minister has strongly criticised moves taken at a
Commonwealth meeting in London to step up pressure on the Zimbabwean
government, state radio reported today.

Stan Mudenge said that discussions about the rule of law in Zimbabwe at the
meeting yesterday were "acts of mischief" and combined "illegality with
arrogance", ZBC reported.

Ministers from the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) included
Zimbabwe on its formal agenda at the London talks and called for a review at
its next meeting on January 30, 2002.

Western governments accuse the Harare government of failing to abide by a
pledge it made at a meeting in September 6 in the Nigerian capital Abuja to
restore the rule of law in exchange for British financial help for a land
reform program.

Mudenge said Zimbabwe was sticking to the Abuja agreement on land
redistribution to address "a colonial issue that has not been resolved."

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S. African Ruling Party Reiterates Support to Zimbabwe

Xinhuanet 2001-12-21 15:21:39

HARARE, December 21 (Xinhuanet) -- A delegation from South Africa's
ruling African National Congress (ANC) has reiterated the party's resolve to
help Zimbabwe out of its troubles after a meeting with its Zimbabwean
counterpart here on Thursday.

During their one-day meeting, the ANC delegation and Zimbabwe'sAfrican
National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) cleared several areas of negative
perceptions, which they said had been created bythe privately owned media in
both countries, the Herald newspaper reported on Friday.

In a three-point resolution read at the end of the meeting, theparties
said they viewed with concern the negative reporting on both governments by
the Western media, and the so-called independent media in the two countries.

The four-member ANC delegation led by ANC national chairman Mosiuoa
Lekota dismissed media reports that President Thabo Mbeki had washed his
hands off Zimbabwe to make way for sanctions.

Instead, the ANC reaffirmed its support and commitment to helping
Zimbabwe come out of its problems.

Lekota said the ANC was committed to seeing ZANU-PF and Zimbabwe emerge
from their problems strong and focused on the goals and ideals they set when
they waged the liberation struggle.

The meeting also lambasted the Western media, the South Africanpress and
the so-called independent press, for furthering hidden agenda against both
the ANC and ZANU-PF.

The two parties called on the media to be responsible and factual in
their reporting.

On the cross border activities, the meeting resolved that the two
parties should work closely within the ambit of the ministers of defense and
security to safeguard their interests.

They also decided to ask their relevant governments that visa
requirements be regularized to facilitate easy movement of people between
the two countries.

On the institutional mechanisms, the meeting resolved the
secretary-generals of the two parties must establish a team to research on
the revolutionary working that would be adapted to theconcrete circumstances
of each country and make a report by March next year.

ZANU-PF secretary for administration Emmerson Mnangagwa described the
meeting as fruitful in that many issues discussed had cleared a lot of grey
areas. Enditem

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Thursday, 20 December, 2001, 14:16 GMT
Mugabe seeks media monopoly
Senior editors of the independent Zimbabwe newspaper the Daily News inspect bomb damage
Daily News: Bombed after minister vowed to silence it
By BBC Monitoring's Suzanne Lidster

In the last year, Zimbabwe's embattled independent press has survived intimidation, arrests and even arson.

But human rights groups and journalists warn that the Zimbabwean Government plans to silence the independent media once and for all.

Information Minister Jonathan Moyo
Jonathan Moyo is the intellect behind the new media law

The government has introduced new legislation to ban critical reporting of President Mugabe and his ruling Zanu-PF party in the run-up to presidential elections next March.

The move follows expulsions of foreign news organizations and government accusations that independent and foreign journalists are in league with opposition groups.

In November, an anonymous government spokesman, quoted in the state-owned Herald newspaper, accused journalists who reported on an attack by ruling party militants against whites and opposition officials of aiding the "terrorist" opposition.

Propaganda blitz

As part of its re-election strategy, Zanu-PF is pushing for a 24-hour news radio station, a TV station, eight provincial newspapers and a news agency under a new government media house called New Ziana.

Earlier this year, the government passed legislation effectively banning independent radio stations.

Zimbabwe Standard editor, Mark Chavunduka
Editor Mark Chavunduka was tortured by the army in 1999

Rural areas have been particularly affected, as radio is the main medium for receiving news there.

To fill this vacuum, a new radio station started broadcasting to Zimbabwe via short-wave and the Internet on 19 December.

Broadcasting each evening in English, SW Radio Africa, says it is independent of any political parties and will provide unbiased news and current affairs programmes.

Until now, the only local airtime available to Mugabe's election rival Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), is on Voice of the People, which broadcasts on short-wave from the island of Madagascar.

But most people in rural areas still rely on FM and medium-wave radios and television, where the state retains a monopoly.

Punitive measures

Recently approved regulations will place further restrictions on independent journalists.

The Public Order and Security Bill, which bans political rallies and bars newspapers from publishing articles criticizing the president, has been written into law.

Another law banning foreign journalists from working in Zimbabwe is expected to be passed soon.

Daily News and Herald billboards
The Daily News outsells The Herald

The proposed Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Bill disqualifies foreigners from working as journalists, even for foreign media.

In addition to being Zimbabwean citizens, journalists must also hold a journalism degree to qualify for a licence. A new government-appointed media commission will be responsible for granting licences to journalists and supervising the media industry.

The bill makes it a crime for journalists to write for other publications unless they are registered as freelance journalists. Anyone writing unauthorised reports on cabinet meetings will be prosecuted.

Those found guilty of violating the bill will have to pay a fine of up to 100,000 Zimbabwe dollars ($1,875) or be sentenced to two years' imprisonment.

Silencing dissent

Zimbabwe Union of Journalists secretary-general Basildon Peta warns that the bill is "the final nail in the coffin of the media".

This year, the journalists' union recorded more than 40 cases of independent reporters being arrested by police or attacked by ruling Zanu-PF militants. Some had reportedly been tortured.

Daily News editor, Geoff Nyarota
Nyarota Has been arrested twice this year

Zimbabwe's most popular newspaper, the independent Daily News, has been the main target.

Its printing press was destroyed in a bomb attack in January, although it continues to publish.

Editor Geoff Nyarota was arrested twice, but charges were quickly dropped.

The authorities expelled three foreign correspondents, and in July barred BBC reporters from the country.

The US Congress has recently passed the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Bill which offers financial incentives to Zimbabwe to allow fair elections and support a free and independent press.

Mr Mugabe reacted by calling the bill "repugnant, provocative, and indeed a gross violation of international law".

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Long-distance bus operators flouting traffic regulations

Financial Gazette (Harare)

December 20, 2001
Posted to the web December 20, 2001

A TRIP to Gweru last week revealed a few nasties. The biggest nasty of all
is that long-distance bus operators continue to flout the law with impunity
and clearly regard their fare-paying passengers as disposable items.

I say this because a number of such buses were encountered travelling at
over 110km/h and not one was encountered travelling at 80km/h. In one
instance, a bus overtook a large container-carrying truck and in so doing,
used at least two kilometres of road and crested two blind rises on the
wrong side. When we eventually caught this same bus (on a long uphill
section), we followed it for some minutes at about 130km/h before it stopped
to collect more victims.

Two highway patrol cars were seen in the vicinity but the occupants seemed
unperturbed by the antics of the grand prix bus drivers.

The other nasty is that the roads in and around the towns en route are in
abysmal condition while the "national" roads are acceptable in the main but
are showing all the signs of decay which is a function of age.

Rain pain

The tracks in and around Harare - you can't call them roads anymore - are
taking a pounding with the heavy rains, but so are hard-pressed motorcars.
Most of these tracks are a sea of muddy water which makes it mighty
difficult to keep your pride and joy respectable.

If you're into using "soaps" to assist with the cleaning process, please
remember to steer clear of detergents and dishwashing liquids. The former
are just too harsh and leave whitish deposits which dry out paint and
rubbers while the latter are formulated to deal with greasy deposits and
also are not paint-friendly.

Rather stick to well-known purpose-formulated car shampoos which are (in
theory) paint-friendly and formulated so as not to strip off any wax
protection which might be present.

Spark plugs

My tirade last week on the subject of devastatingly expensive car parts
contained a partial defence of the franchised agents who are compelled to
keep slow moving components on their shelves.

Spark plugs, traditionally at least, can hardly be described as slow moving
but in some cases, they most certainly are because they are classified as
"long life" parts.

I know Mercedes and Volkswagen are purveyors of such parts, because "their"
spark plugs feature three or even four electrodes and very rarely, these are
made of platinum. These plugs have a service life of up to 60 000 kms
compared with the more usual 15 000 kms. Understandably, the long life plugs
are more costly than the traditional type but this doesn't stop you from
hunting out the superior variety through other channels provided you are
certain that the spark plug heat range is correct.

My own experience of multiple electrode plugs is that there is no
discernible performance advantage but the long life claims are fully
justified as is the fact that you are spared the burden of adjusting the
electrode gap.

New Volksies

I reported a few weeks back on the forthcoming super luxury VW code-named
the D1.

A couple of readers phoned (in my temporary absence at the time) to ask more
details but the gentlemen concerned did not follow up. They, and others, may
therefore be interested to know that the new model will be officially named
Phaeton after the son of the mythological Greek sun god Helios and who
steered the sun carriage.

The first Phaeton to emerge from the spectacular new glass factory in
Dresden has been donated to German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. Lesser
purchasers will have to chew their finger nails until March 2002 when the
luxury saloon goes on sale in Germany from specially selected showrooms.

Initial indicators of a W12 6 litre and V6 3.2 litre at launch appear
correct, but the formidable W10 5 litre Turbo D will follow shortly
thereafter together with a W8 4 litre petrol unit.

From the same stable, but a different factory, comes news of the
announcement at the recent Essen motor show of the king of Golfs. This road
burner extraordinaire, likely to be known as the R32 rather than the
predicted RSi, is fitted with a new 3.2 litre narrow angle V6 that puts out
no less than 240hp. All this power, which affords a top speed of around
245km/h, is controlled by a development of the familiar full-time 4WD system
already used by VW.

No confirmation of RHD production has yet been received but UK dealers are
optimistic in view of the factory's declared intent to make the R32 in
significant numbers.

Price increases

The precipitous decline of the South African rand is certain to lead to
increased prices across the board. Indicators are that car prices will rise
by around 15 percent as soon as plants open in January.

New Harley

In the world of marketing, the rise and rise of Harley Davidson from the
ashes of near destruction is a lesson to all students of the game. There are
few better examples of pinpoint target marketing of a product range which I
regard as an anachronism but others clearly do not.

Give me a high revving, sweet-handling Jap machine any day. Fortunately, we
don't all think alike as no less a light than weltmeister Michael Schumacher
has shown. On his visits to the USA, he has undertaken biking holidays on
these extraordinary machines and is so besotted with them that he's lent his
name to a forthcoming model.

The limited edition MS-1 will be equipped with a monstrous 1.6 litre twin
cam motor fitted into an ultra mod frame designed by Frametechnologies of
Austria. The rear tyre is by some margin the biggest in the business at a
near unbelievable 250/40-18.

As expected, the machine will be red, it will feature the MS logo script and
each one will be signed by the man himself. You'll need to be exceedingly
wealthy if you wish to add your name to the 15 already put down for the
initial production run at DM180 000 each. Personally, I'd rather have two
Hondas, a Suzie, a Yammy and a Kawa.

Adieu 2001

This is the last column of the year and it's been written in between
preparing to join yet another passport queue and wondering what the (former)
PTC has done with all my missing car magazines.

It's been a year of unrelenting price increases and ever expanding potholes,
a year of fuel shortages and frustrating queues. There is some hope on the
horizon though, as I see that the near impassable road at the back of
Newlands shops (I guess it's an extension of Windsor Avenue) has at least
been graded but it remains to be seen whether or not a black top will be

May I suggest that we all take heart from the fact that things can only get
better. I hope you've enjoyed the column over the last year just as I hope
you'll enjoy the festive break. God willing, Top Gear will be back in action
on January 10. In the meantime, drive safely, check those tyre pressures and
give your paintwork a good waxing while you've got time on your hands.

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Zimbabwe, S.Africa say no rift, slam media

 HARARE, Dec. 20 — The ruling parties of Zimbabwe and South Africa said on
Thursday there was no rift between the two countries and slammed media
coverage of Harare's economic and political crisis.
       South African Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana denied that
President Thabo Mbeki had toughened his stance against Zimbabwe in recent
 ''President Mbeki is a friend of Zimbabwe, he has been and will continue to
be,'' Mdladlana, a member of a delegation from South Africa's ruling African
National Congress, said in remarks broadcast on Zimbabwe's state television
on Thursday.
       The worsening economic and political crisis in Zimbabwe is cited as
one of the factors in the South African rand's recent plunge to historic
lows against major foreign currencies.
       Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is under growing international
pressure over the violent takeover of white-owned farms for redistribution
to landless blacks.
       ANC national chairman Mosiuoa Lekota said on Wednesday the party was
sending a high-level delegation to Harare in a last-ditch bid to find ''an
amicable solution to the Zimbabwe problem.''
       He said the mission's hope was to influence leaders of Zinmbabwe's
ruling ZANU-PF, which fought alongside the ANC to end apartheid in South
Africa and white rule in the former Rhodesia.
       Mbeki said last month the situation in Zimbabwe was getting worse and
may deteriorate further if presidential elections set for March were not
free and fair.

       Mugabe faces the biggest political challenge of his 21 years in power
in the polls after the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change came
close to winning parliamentary elections last year.
       Commonwealth ministers meeting in London on Thursday warned Zimbabwe
faced suspension from the 54-nation group next month unless it stopped the
farm invasions and halted political and media intimidation.
       Mugabe has accused foreign and local independent media of bias
against the government and its land reform programme.
       ZANU-PF administration secretary Emmerson Mnangagwa said the ANC and
ZANU-PF ''viewed with great concern the persistent negative reports of the
Western media, the South African media and the so-called Zimbabwe
independent media on the government and political leadership in both South
Africa and Zimbabwe.''
       News organisations have criticised Zimbabwe's proposed new media
bill, which threatens jail terms for journalists who violate new regulations
and bars foreigners from working as correspondents in the country.
       Last month, Mugabe's government threatened to treat six journalists
working for foreign media organisations as ''terrorists'' after accusing
them of filing false reports on political violence.

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Mugabe to resist Commonwealth suspension

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has accused Britain of using the Commonwealth to pursue a private agenda against its former colony and vowed to resist threatened suspension from the group, state television reported.

The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) warned Zimbabwe on Thursday it faced suspension from the 54-nation group next month unless it stops a wave of violent farm occupations and halts media and political intimidation.

"The Commonwealth is an organisation of us all and there should never be a situation within it when one country wants to use it as an instrument to achieve it's own purposes," Mugabe said in remarks broadcast on state television on Saturday.

"I have (sic) in particular the posture of Britain. They think the Commonwealth is their own instrument, and we shall resist that," he said on his return from a four-day state visit to Libya.

The official Herald newspaper earlier on Saturday quoted Mugabe as saying in Libya that the threatened ejection, which he said was being demanded by the "mad British government", was unlikely.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said it would be "open to CMAG to suspend Zimbabwe from councils of the Commonwealth", which is made up mainly of former British colonies, at its next meeting on January 30.

"I don't think the Commonwealth will act in that irregular manner. There are rules and regulations and people don't just take action because the mad British government has demanded that they do so," the Herald quoted Mugabe as telling journalists in Libya.

"I don't think it (the CMAG action) will be sustainable at the Commonwealth meeting at all. The Commonwealth is not just the white people, you see, the Anglo Saxon, and this is what the British wants it to be. The moment they do that there will be a break-up of the Commonwealth," he said.

On Friday, U.S. President George W. Bush signed the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act aimed at encouraging Mugabe's government to commit itself to free elections and equitable land reforms.

Mugabe said threats of sanctions would not deter his controversial drive to redistribute white-owned farms among landless blacks, telling the Herald: "They can even ask Lucifer to help them but this is our country and we will not let go."

Mugabe faces growing international pressure over his land redistribution programme, which he says is a vital step towards redressing colonial-era injustices.

The European Union also edged closer this month to imposing sanctions against Mugabe's government unless he implements a September pledge made in Abuja to halt violence and hold free and fair elections.

On Thursday Commonwealth ministers called on Mugabe to allow international monitors into the country to oversee preparations for presidential polls next year, when he faces a stiff challenge from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

The MDC came close to defeating Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF at June 2000 parliamentary elections preceded by political violence that killed at least 31 mainly opposition supporters.

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