OPINION November 29, 2002 Posted to the web December 1,
HISTORY is littered with events that clearly
show Robert Mugabe was always a dictator - mind, body and soul. Since
assuming the captaincy of the Zimbabwean ship in April 1980, Mugabe has never
tolerated opposition to his rule in whatever form. Political scientists
contend he set sail well but somehow lost the compass midway hence the
sinking ship. Events however tell a different story.
That Mugabe was
at one time the darling of the international community is not in doubt. A
well-pronounced reconciliation policy, advances in education, health and the
provision of social services enabled him to mask his intolerance of internal
opposition and deferred for sometime the unmasking of his true
Four months after democratically assuming power in 1980,
Mugabe then prime minister, signed an agreement with the North Korean
government led by President Kim II Sung, providing for the Koreans to train a
brigade in the Zimbabwean army to, in Mugabe's words, "combat
While the rest of the world celebrated Zimbabwe's hard-won
Independence, Mugabe was already planning how to crush the
Despite the existence of a police force and army that could
easily contain any civil unrest, 106 Koreans arrived in August 1981 pursuant
to the August 1980 agreement to train what would become the infamous 5
Brigade. Wearing red berets to distinguish them from the regular army, the
brigade, drawn from 3 500 ex-Zanla troops butchered over 20 000 people living
in the southern parts of Zimbabwe believed to be opposition
Mugabe christened the new brigade Gukurahundi, which loosely
translated means "the rain which washes away the chaff before the spring
The opposition PF-Zapu led by the late nationalist Dr Joshua
Nkomo had won a sizeable number of seats in the new parliament and clearly
fitted the description of "chaff" as it stood between him and total
domination. A state of emergency in place since 1965 was maintained by Mugabe
for a decade until July 1990, an ominous sign that nothing was changing
except the colour of the new ruler's skin.
The Gukurahundi era began
to define the role of particular organisations in the maintenance of Mugabe's
smartly disguised but brutal "life presidency". These were the Youth Brigade,
the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), the Police Internal Security
Intelligence Unit, the Police Support Unit, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting
Corporation and the army. All these organisations relied heavily on archaic
and abhorrent colonial legislation to subvert justice. Up to now these
organisations continue to play an integral role in keeping Mugabe in power
using the same legislation now spruced up by hired "professors" - the Access
to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the Public Order and Security
Act and the Broadcasting Act which grants the state broadcaster an
embarrassingly naked monopoly over the airwaves.
In the run up to the
1985 election the Zanu PF Youth Brigade, ideologically-modelled on the
Chinese Red Guard, rampaged throughout the country beating up mainly Ndebele
speakers who were presumed to support Nkomo's PF-Zapu. They carried out mob
beatings, burnt homes and murdered innocent civilians while responding to
Mugabe's chilling call to "go and uproot the weeds from your gardens".
Nothing has changed. The Youth Brigade now being officially trained at Border
Gezi Training Centre under the guise of "national service" are doing the same
to MDC supporters across the country.
Evidence is mounting that
Mugabe, worried about imagined retributions when he leaves the scene, wants
to fiddle with the constitution but can only gain a two thirds majority by
eliminating MDC MPs and rigging the resulting by-elections.
tragic addition to the long list of examples is the suspicious death of
Learnmore Jongwe, the opposition's former spokesman and legislator, in remand
prison awaiting trial for allegedly stabbing his wife to death in a domestic
dispute. At the time of his arrest government went out of its way to spread
the falsehood that the former student leader and lawyer wanted to commit
suicide soon after the incident as an advance pretext for denying him bail
using a compromised judiciary. Speculation is also rife that they offered him
an "information for freedom" deal which he turned down. It is now clear his
being kept in custody was to fulfil the grand plan of reducing MDC
legislators whether by hook or by crook.
This sad era in the history of
Zimbabwe exposes Mugabe's penchant for rewarding evil. The commander of 5
Brigade Perence Shiri at the time, who presided over the atrocities later
described as "a moment of madness" by Mugabe himself, is now air marshall,
the supreme head of Zimbabwe's Airforce. Mugabe's other henchmen through this
period, the current Speaker of Parliament, Emmerson Mnangagwa and Defence
minister, Sydney Sekeramayi, are his closest aides and have survived numerous
reshuffles. The two are being touted as the leading contenders for the
Zanu PF's current tactic of whimsically arresting
opposition leaders on charges ranging from inciting violence, murder and
treason without ever securing a conviction can also be traced to this period
in history. In 1982 Dumiso Dabengwa, Lookout Masuku and four others, faced
treason charges which were later quashed by the Supreme Court for lack of
credible evidence. Mugabe accused Dabengwa of writing a letter to Soviet
leader Michail Gorbachev asking for assistance to topple Mugabe. The Soviets
however denied this.
Despite a Supreme Court order Dabengwa and Masuku
were redetained and spent four years in custody without trial courtesy of
Mugabe's often abused "emergency regulations". Masuku died a few weeks after
his release and Dabengwa was rewarded with a cabinet post in a unified
government much later. Masuku was belatedly declared a national hero after
intense lobbying forced a guilt-ridden Mugabe to appease the Matabeleland
region he had abused for so long.
The late Dr Joshua Nkomo and Rev
Ndabaningi Sithole, father figures in Zimbabwean nationalism, both faced
charges of trying to kill Mugabe despite evidence to the contrary. MDC
President Morgan Tsvangirai is facing similar charges. Zanu PF has perfected
the art of manufacturing events to justify any excesses they may commit. The
discovery of arms caches in February of 1982 which soured the integration of
Zipra and Zanla forces into one army had all the makings of a manufactured
event, coming fresh after the Entumbane Uprising in which the two sides
fought each other for two days. Evidence clearly showed government had
planted the arms to gain a pretext for unleashing the 5 Brigade.
kidnapping and murder in 1982 of six foreign tourists was also suspicious as
it allowed the regime to effect past colonial immunity laws that protected
members of the security forces from prosecution if they committed any crimes.
Similarly, the murder of Bulawayo war veteran leader, Cain Nkala had all the
makings of an inside job but it allowed Mugabe the much-needed mileage to
brand the MDC a terrorist organisation. The death was of no material benefit
to the opposition.
If the world is surprised at Mugabe's behaviour, it is
because it failed to understand his intolerance from the word go. Mugabe is
as predictable as the rising sun and none know this more than those who have
borne the brunt of his brutality. The saying that history repeats itself
because we are not paying attention the first time is given credence by the
story of Mugabe.
Lance Guma is a former secretary-general of the National
Union of Students in Polytechnics.
December 1, 2002 Posted to the web December 1,
Bafana Khumalo Johannesburg
AS DAYLIGHT turns to instant
night in the small Northern Province town of Musina, the event will not have
much significance for the "black" part of town.
"I don't know much
about the sun; I'm just here for the concert," says 27-year-old Eliza
Ramphabana. Hers is a common refrain in the town that will be the centre of
this year's solar eclipse. Two soldiers stationed at the nearby Beit Bridge
border post shake their hands when asked about the significance of the
This is in contrast with African folklore. Traditional healer
Emily Morolane says: "These days, people don't show the respect which they
are supposed to."
Traditional African beliefs, according to retired
professor of anthropology Victor Ralushai, hold that a solar eclipse is "the
passing of the supreme god Nwali from the Matoko Hills in Zimbabwe to Makonde
in Venda to give messages to the people of Venda".
As Nwali crosses
the sun, he casts a shadow, bathing the day in momentary darkness. This event
is supposed to be treated with reverence, with people sitting down and not
looking at the sun.
Apart from Nwali, the eclipse has always signified
the beginning of a new era, a better life for all, says Florence Ndou, a
traditional healer who lives in the township of Nancefield, on the outskirts
of Musina. Ndou also says that Nwali's passing-by gives strength to her
Even though eclipses are traditionally solemn affairs,
tourist establishments in the Musina area have been celebrating an early
festive season, with most bed-and-breakfasts and lodges fully
"We were booked out two years ago," says Dean Warren, manager of
a hunting lodge 10km south of Musina. He has organised events for the throngs
of people expected at the lodge.
Other businesses have also devised
commercial spin-offs: the Musina Golf Club is hosting an "Eclipse
Extravaganza", while the Kwik Spar is offering free eclipse viewers with
The provincial government has also jumped on the
bandwagon: it hosted a concert last Friday at a local stadium. And, in a
truly new South African way, the performers catered for every taste, from
Oliver Mtukudzi to Steve Hofmeyr.
Mugabe warns of Govt troop crackdown The President of Zimbabwe,
Robert Mugabe, has given a warning that he is ready to call on the troops
experienced in fighting the civil war in Congo, to confront the Government's
The BBC reports President Mugabe has also re-affirmed his
intention to continue the controversial land reform program.
at a military parade to mark the end of Zimbabwe's costly intervention in the
Congo war, President Mugabe told the assembled troops that they need not
He said there was still a lot of land to parcel out in Zimbabwe
and that his Government would parcel this land out to what he called, our
He said this is our land and it shall remain our land.
went on to make the warning, that Zimbabwe's involvement in Congo
had strengthened the army's combat ability and he said the Governments would
be more than prepared to use this experience and skill in dealing
with aggression, either at home or elsewhere.
Mugabe flexes his muscles By Michael Hartnack in
ZIMBABWEAN troops who recently returned home after four
years at war in Congo are now ready to use their combat experience against
the Government's enemies, President Robert Mugabe said.
lavish celebrations to mark the final withdrawal from Congo of a Zimbabwean
troop contingent that numbered 14,000 at its peak, Mr Mugabe promised land
formerly owned by whites to the war's veterans. Government-backed militants
began seizing white-owned land in February 2000, plunging the country into
economic turmoil. "You needn't worry, there is still a lot of land to parcel
out (and) we will parcel it out to our people, those committed because they
have roots in our country," Mr Mugabe told a parade at the Chinese-built
National Sports Stadium. Zimbabwe backed Congolese President Joseph
Kabila's Government in a war against Ugandan and Rwandan-backed rebels. A
cease-fire was brokered earlier this year.
Mr Mugabe reiterated claims
that the British Government was behind mounting opposition to his 22-year
rule, because it sympathised with white Zimbabweans. "We cannot have
little England or little Europe in either Zimbabwe or Africa," he
said. "This is our land and it shall remain our land, not just for us who
live today but all of us who live here for ever and ever and ever." Aid
agencies say 6.7 million Zimbabweans are at risk of starvation before the
harvests in March. The food shortages have been blamed on the farm seizures
and drought. Mr Mugabe warned Western governments against intervening in his
country. "Our participation in this (Congolese) operation strengthened our
combat capability," he said. "Our forces have gone that extra mile in terms
of combat readiness and would be more than prepared to use their experience
and skill in dealing with aggression either at home or elsewhere if duty
should call." He declined to say how much the intervention in Congo had
cost or how many soldiers died. Recently-acquired secondhand military
hardware, including helicopter gunships and armoured personnel carriers, were
displayed at yesterday's parade. Meanwhile slogans calling for a "holy
war" against Zimbabwe's 30,000 whites were daubed on the walls of Harare's
main cricket ground, ahead of a visit by International Cricket Council
officials. Zimbabwe is due to host six games during the cricket world cup in
Harare - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's
successor will not be named until 2006, the state-run Sunday Mail said in an
apparent bid to quash speculation the 78-year-old longtime leader could be
Nathan Shamuyarira, information secretary in Mugabe's ruling
Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF), was quoted by
the paper as saying the issue would be discussed at a party congress in
The paper said the news had "scuppered frenzied speculation" in the
private media that a Zanu-PF conference due later this month would name a
candidate to contest the next presidential election in 2008.
private press regularly speculates on possible successors to Mugabe, who has
held power since 1980, first as prime minister and later as
This year he won a new six-year term in a hard-fought election
against Morgan Tsvangirai, 50, of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
Western observers said the poll was not free or fair. - Sapa-AFP
So serious has the brain drain become in Zimbabwe that the
National Economic Consultative Forum (NECF) had to commission recently a
study on the problem. The study does transcend the many speculative and
politically-motivated accounts on the brain drain that has seen the Zimbabwe
Diaspora grow by leaps and bounds over the last decade.
however, the study like many of those subjective conclusions that one finds
in sections of our media, establishes no causal relationship
between Zimbabwe's successful human resource development strategy of the
first decade of independence on the one hand, and the lack of such
comprehensive policy frameworks in the neighbouring countries of Southern
Africa, on the other.
Also, missing in these analyses of the current
brain drain problem in Zimbabwe is an account of the disparity between a
progressive social development policy that was a central feature of the
post-independence government, on the one hand, and an enclave economy that
remained narrow-based for most of these two decades, increasingly incapable
of absorbing the growing number of school leavers and tertiary
It was the National Manpower Survey (NMS) of
1981/2 which established the human resources development policy for
post-independent Zimbabwe. The NMS was essentially an economic and technical
exercise; but it was also a large political statement, about both the
colonial legacy in general and The specific steps to be undertaken if the
country was to indigenise the economy, expand it and thereby ensure
sustainable development in the years and decades ahead.
the National Liberation Movement returned home in 1980, the two or three
years leading to independence had been devoted to a serious consideration of
the political and technical capacity that would be required for the new
state. A major influence in all this planning was the fear that there would
be a major exodus of whites on Independence Day and that, given the monopoly
which white settler colonialism had enjoyed in all aspects of the economy,
everything had to be done to pre-empt collapse and the attendant chaos and
crises that would no doubt ensue in such circumstances.
leadership in particular had witnessed the Mozambican transition following
that country's independence in 1975. By early 1976, all the white skills -
who were the only skills available - had left the Mozambique Railways; in
other words, some 26 000 white workers had simply packed their bags,
including the coffins that previously lay in the elaborate mausoleums in the
Maputo cemetery, and left for Portugal. This brought the Mozambique Railways
to a virtual standstill in a matter of days, a situation which, even up to
this day, has hardly improved. But this became a pattern throughout an
economy in which the colonial authorities had for decades ensured that even
the most menial of skilled work had to be confined to Portuguese settlers.
Indeed, by the eve of Zimbabwean independence in 1980, there was no economy
to talk about in Mozambique and, as is now well-known, it would be another
decade of strife and conflict before the country achieved the foundations of
peace and development at the turn of the 1990's.
In short, the fear of a
white exodus became one of the central concerns of the government - in -
waiting of Zimbabwe. And, in as far as that eventuality was viewed as largely
inevitable, so, too, did the leadership of the liberation movement - both
Zanu and Zapu - begin preparing for the National Manpower Survey (NMS) some 2
or 3 years before the formal launch of the latter in 1981 under the Ministry
of Manpower, Planning and Development. By 1979, we had a fairly reliable
indication of the number of skilled Zimbabweans who were outside the country,
including those under training in the various parts of the world. We had even
identified the persons who would occupy the key posts in the various sections
of the state apparatus; and, from the very outset, the guerilla army became
the Zimbabwe National Army. By the end of 1980, some 20 000 skilled and
professional Zimbabweans had returned home, less by invitation than in
response to the spirit of patriotism that was so contagious in those exciting
and hopeful days.
Also, using the concept of the "towering heights of the
economy", we had by 1979 identified the "most sensitive skill requirements
areas" and obtained the grids for the water, electricity and sewage systems
for the entire country, especially for the urban centres of Salisbury,
Bulawayo, Gwelo and Umtali. All this soon paid off in the early months of
post-independence when, for example, the all-white artisan group at Air
Zimbabwe downed tools in early October, 1980. I was called to the Prime
Minister's office and asked to explain how we could deal with this crisis in
one of the "most sensitive" sectors. Confidently, I explained that we had
some 120 trainee aircraft personnel in Ethiopia, most of whom were about to
complete their 3 year courses in that country. I was instructed to fly to
Addis Ababa and returned with 110 aircraft engineers and pilots. The Air
Zimbabwe strike ended thereby.
We had learnt our lesson by this and
other happenings. In fact, artisan training in most trades was virtually 90
per cent white; in such fields as aircraft engineering, electrical and
mechanical engineering, virtually a white monopoly. By 1981, the practice had
already been established whereby white youths would leave for South Africa,
UK, Australia or New Zealand, as soon as they had qualified as artisans.
Likewise, in such "sensitive areas" as medicine where the University's
Medical School was more than 80 per cent white in enrolment. So, by
introducing the "bonding" of apprentices and other trainees in scarce skills
areas, the Ministry of Manpower, Planning and Development had by 1982 turned
the training statistics upside down, yielding the ratio of 98 per cent blacks
in most sectors of vocational training.
By 1983, and on the strength
of the NMS and its twin schemes of "bonding" and upgrading the thousands of
blacks who, although skilled and proficient in the various fields of
industry, had been condemned to the permanent status of "semi-skilled" by the
colonial regime, Zimbabwe had become self-sufficient in industrial skills.
Likewise, the entire public service sector had virtually become indigenous
within three years of the attainment of independence in 1980. And on the
basis of the recommendations and conclusions of the NMS in 1983, the Zimbabwe
Human ResourceDevelopment Plan was established firmly, citing agriculture,
medicine, engineering and financial management as the priority areas for
scholarships and training. Through the twin instruments of the Scholarship
Committee and the Committee on Foreign Recruitment, the Ministry of Manpower,
Planning and Development ensured a viable human resource development policy
that would in its effects and positive results render Zimbabwe second to
none, and accounts today for the comparative advantage that the country now
enjoys, not only vis-ą-vis the Southern African region but the world
As I have already intimated, this success story is also the cause
of our current tribulations, in the form of the brain drain and the
imminent threat, unless something is done urgently, to our human resource
development base in particular and the economy in general. There is hope that
the current land reform and resettlement programme, and indeed the
enormous spin-offs as the economy expands and requirements for skills and
personnel grows correspondingly, will help to absorb the unemployed and
attract home many of those in the Zimbabwean Diaspora. For the Zimbabwean
Diaspora is very unique in that most of those 479,348 skilled and
professional citizens out there have an organic link to home. For example,
the NECF - commissioned study found that more than half (or almost 70 per
cent) of the respondents expressed a desire to return home. This does conform
to the related pattern whereby most of those in the Diaspora, particularly
those in the professional and skilled category, have been sending money home,
for the purchase or building of houses and/or investment.
Zimbabwean brain drain will continue unabated until the government in
particular addresses the problems in the education and health sectors. This
is the foundation of the human resources development strategy and yet these
are the sectors most hit by the brain drain. But, as the NECF - commissioned
study itself acknowledges, there is need for Zimbabwe, "together with the
Diaspora countries to reach a mutual agreement on how to reduce 'the pull and
push factors' triggering the desire by our people to leave for Europe, North
America and the region." In my view, such consultations at the sub-regional
level should include an analysis of the human resources development policies
of Zimbabwe's neighbours. For, prima facie evidence would suggest that the
lack of comprehensive human resources development policies in such countries
as South Africa and Botswana has created the kind of shortfalls into which
the Zimbabwean brain drain is being attracted. Botswana and Namibia might be
victims of the "demographic trap" in that their small populations - 1.5m and
2m respectively, with 65 per cent or more being under 15 years of age -
determines that they could not for the foreseeable future be self-sufficient
in skills. But South Africa, on the other hand, might need to institute the
kind of policy regime that Zimbabwe introduced at independence, if it is to
overcome the problems of an enclave economy and thereby help to stem the
Zimbabwean brain drain.
LOVEMORE MADHUKU, the National Constitution Assembly (NCA)
chairman, challenged Zimbabweans once again to adopt a confrontational
approach against the Zanu PF government saying a push for a new
democratic constitution was the only way to change the country's
Speaking to The Sunday Mirror after the NCA's
demonstrations in the country' s major cities on Saturday, Madhuku said the
NCA's call was not for a militant confrontation with government but could end
up uncontrollable should government ignore the call.
He said the
organisations' initiated demonstrations would continue countrywide after
every two weeks, adding that participation was gradually increasing every
"The demonstrations do not mean militant confrontation, but
it's a show of people power which the government will have to deal with. The
objective is to make this arrogant government listen to the people's voice, a
demand for a new democratic constitution," Madhuku said.
(Movement for Democratic Change) MDC must first join us in the struggle for a
new constitution and then clamour for elections afterwards. They participated
in the elections knowing exactly that it was a flawed process due to the
constitution. They cannot jump the gun." Madhuku said the opposition party
was mixing its priorities by not joining the struggle for a new constitution.
He said a democratic system of governance could only come through a
democratic constitution for the country. Last week Madhuku urged Zimbabweans
to unite and adopt a confrontational stance against the Zanu PF government
during a public meeting convened by Habbakuk Trust in Bulawayo. Habbakuk is a
Christian advocacy group.
On Friday, Madhuku said the Zimbabwe Republic
Police raided the NCA offices in Harare, searched for subversive material but
ended up rounding up the six NCA employees on duty as well as 15 other
individuals present at the office.
Madhuku said he had received a report
on the arrest of four other NCA activists in Bulawayo on Saturday. Some of
those reportedly in custody include the association's advocacy officer,
Ernest Mydzengi, Tovaitei Karimazondo, Promise Matunhira, and NCA acting
co-ordinator Tsitsi Mutongi.
Police spokesperson, chief superintendent
Bothwell Mugariri said he was out of town and therefore could not confirm nor
deny the reports. His mobile telephone was cutting off each
However, Madhuku said the NCA-driven demonstrations for a new
constitution went ahead on Saturday in Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare, Masvingo and
Gweru. He alleged that the police attempted to interfere in Mabvuku and Mbare
West in Harare, Makokoba in Bulawayo and Sakubva in Mutare, but kept a low
profile in other areas.
"What we intend to do is to continue with the
wave of countrywide demonstrations every two weeks. Participation is picking
up, two weeks ago we had between 130 and 150 people, but this weekend the
numbers increased to between 250 to 300 participants in the demonstrations,"
"These demonstrations are going ahead because none can stop
them, not even myself. They are a genuine push from the people for a new,
democratic constitution. It's people power, but some are still hesitant and
would be waiting for others to participate. It's our struggle, together."
Madhuku alleged police intimidation for the limited numbers of people
participating in the demonstrations, saying every suppressive regime or
government would always intimidate the citizenry, especially opposing
The NCA was not calling for a militant uprising against the
government but was cultivating a strong base for dissenting voices committed
to changing the status quo, Madhuku said. "The numbers of discontented
Zimbabweans will swell, maybe into thousands or millions, one day. We need
determined people, but other enemies of Zimbabwe might take the opportunity
and a militant uprising might happen. The NCA is not for militancy," Madhuku
Ex-British SAS officer involved in training
THERE is a shocking revelation that a former British
non-commissioned Special Air Service (SAS) officer, Griffith Roy Philpott in
2001 trained young men and women who were active in the occupation of
A source well connected to the British intelligence
network - speaking on condition of anonymity - said Philpott, 44, was invited
to train men and women who then disguised as veterans of the armed struggle
and spearheaded farm occupations.
"Philpott was invited in 2001 to
train militias in tactics to invade farms during the height of the fast track
land redistribution exercise," said the source.
He said Philpott was
called to conduct the training by a high-ranking army officer (name supplied)
when the two met in the Democratic Republic of Congo last year. It is not
known why Philpott had gone to DRC, the source said. The army officer however
would not give a comment. He switched off his cell phone as soon as this
reporter identified himself and the reason for calling him.
ZANU PF politburo member said he found the story "rather strange and out of
Several former members of the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU)
have also greeted the news with a sense of surprise, saying they are taken
aback by the irony of a British national working in cahoots with some
Zimbabweans to bring about the downfall of white commercial farmers. Lawrence
Orner Straatman, who used to own a farm in Mvurwi in Mashonaland Central,
said he had met Philpott in person at a hotel (name supplied) in the province
in early 2001.
Describing Philpott as a "funny man", Straatman said he
had all along considered him to be his brother. "If what you are saying is
true, I am really confused. Does a brother have to go to such an extent to
betray his own kith and kin for a piece of silver? "It is indeed a shame that
our own people were used in the siege against us over the last few years yet
the British have been making so much noise against Mugabe while assisting
with their best and most experienced servicemen," said Straatman.
some commentators have said there was nothing unusual about Zimbabwe hiring
British nationals to provide services such as training. "The British Military
Advisory and Training Team offered training to Zimbabwean military personnel
until two years ago and even now all the army generals have passed through
the Sandhurst military college in Britain," one analyst said. The British
Military Advisory and Training Team (BMATT) was in Zimbabwe from 1980 to
2000, pulling out as relations between the two countries continued to
deteriorate. Joseph Chinotimba, the war veteran leader who gained fame for
spearheading the farm occupations, could neither deny nor confirm
the involvement of Philpott in the reported training of farm
He remarked: "I cannot deny or confirm that. In any case what
is wrong with that?" He added: "I cannot talk about that man otherwise they
will banish him from this country." He would not say whom he meant by "they".
Philpott is currently in Hereford, United Kingdom and no comment could be
obtained from him since his telephone was just ringing without any
The training is alleged to have taken place in Kariba, Victoria
Falls, Nyanga and an unspecified base in Mashonaland Central province.
Philpott, the source said had an unusual attraction for the first two places
and spent much time water rafting in the Zambezi River.
A 28 year old
newly resettled farmer who was given a fifteen acre plot in the Mapinga area
of Mashonaland West province confirmed that he was trained in drill and
counterintelligence tactics in Mashonaland Central. "The purpose of the
training was to be able to repel white farmers who were armed. We were also
told that farm workers and some MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) youths
were being trained elsewhere to attack new settlers," said the new farmer,
who gave his name as Comrade Sam.
Comrade Sam said he often heard stories
about a short tempered white man who sometimes came to his base to give
instructions on how the training should occur, adding that for the three
weeks of his training he did not see the white man. The source said Philpott
stayed at Manyame Air Base, the Harare headquarters of the Air Force of
Zimbabwe (AFZ), during the time he was conducting the training. An officer at
the Sergeants' mess at Manyame Air Base however said there were no records of
Philpott at the base.
It could not be established who was paying him and
how he was being paid.
Philpott, who spent a total fifteen years in the
British SAS, is seen by many as a controversial figure. Last year, the
heavily built man was dragged to court on allegations of assaulting a
policeman who had stopped and quizzed him over suspected drunken
In the case, heard at Worcester Crown Court, it was alleged that
two Ministry of Defence (MoD) policemen who had been tipped by restaurant
chefs that he was too drunk to drive stopped Philpott in Hereford.
allegedly punched one of the officer, Sandor Boka, on the nose, damaging it
extensively. Philpott, who initially denied ever drinking beer on the day in
question, later admitted to having taken one beer. In Zimbabwe, he was well
known in drinking circles for his love for beer and women.
He wrote a
book, CQB (Close Quarter Battle) under the pseudonym Mike Curtis, chronicling
his worldwide adventures in the Parachute Regiment and the SAS for the period
he was in the Defence ministry. However, he earned himself a ban from all
military bases as part of MoD's clampdown on disclosure of military
intelligence. His purported autobiography was shot down for containing
falsehoods and inaccuracies.
Philpott in 1982 fought in the Falklands war
between Britain and Argentina before joining the SAS. He was among the first
airforce men to be deployed to the former Yugoslavia as the country
disintegrated into civil war. He was also part of the team of John Major's
bodyguards during the British Minister 's tenure in the early to mid-1990s.
Subsequently, he worked as a personal aide for other high-ranking officials
and was recently fired by one of them for alleged theft and dishonesty. The
British source told The Sunday Mirror that Phillpott was a member of a
mercenary group that was frequently hired in Africa and other Third World
countries to fan or suppress coups.
"It is a mystery even to me why
anyone in Zimbabwe would ever consider hiring the man (Philpott) to do a job
for them," said the source.
Philpott was also recently linked to Zimbabwe
in a story that appeared in the Telegraph of London. The story, written by
Alistair McQueen, claims that Philpott, together with 19 other former SAS
soldiers, had been hired to provide security services to the Zimbabwean
government. It is alleged that Philpott was the leader of the group. The
Telegraph story alleges that the team of the British ex-soldiers was spotted
in DRC by high ranking Zimbabwean military officers while it was guarding
executives running a diamond mine in the then war torn country. The Telegraph
further alleges that the group of mercenaries accompanied Mugabe to Tripoli
earlier this year when he ostensibly went to negotiate a fuel deal with his
Libyan counterpart, Muammar Gaddafi at a time the country was experiencing
drastic fuel supply problems.
Philpott disputed the story in a court
case in which he was challenging the veracity of the Telegraph claims.
Philpott won the lawsuit because there was no-one in Zimbabwe who would
confirm his links with the Zimbabwean government.
A scholar based in
Cape Town South Africa, Bernedette Muthien says modern mercenaries are mostly
drawn from the British SAS and the CIA, which she accuses of funding the late
Mobutu Sese Seko's autocratic regime as well as the rebel Unita movement
during the time Jonas Savimbi was still alive. Angola's government soldiers
killed Savimbi, the founder and leader of Unita early this year after waging
a war against the government for almost three decades.
mercenaries have been blamed for several assassinations on the African
continent. British "soldier of fortune" Tyrone Chadwick was imprisoned in
South Africa after admitting to a London reporter his and other mercenaries'
roles in several murders during the apartheid era.
Tony Buckingham, a
senior ex-SAS officer runs Sandline International, a mercenary organisation
which brokered an arms deal to politically unstable Sierra Leone in 1997. The
deal was carried out with the approval of the British government and its
CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) - Southern African
countries marked World AIDS Day on Sunday with hopes that the region, which
has the highest rate of HIV positive people on the planet, can slow the
spread of the disease.
There are 42 million HIV positive people
worldwide, with sub-Saharan Africa home to 75 percent of them, according to
UNAIDS, the U.N.'s AIDS agency.
South Africa has more HIV positive people
than any other country in the world. Figures released by the government more
than two years ago showed that 4.7 million people - one in nine - were
infected, and the figure today is believed to be substantially
The number of people with AIDS in Asia threatens to reach
epidemic levels, and activists there also tried to raise awareness of the
disease and how to prevent it. Events were also held in Cuba, Brazil, Peru
and several other countries.
South Africa's government had come under
fire for not doing enough to combat the AIDS epidemic, and it has recently
shown signs of taking the issue more seriously.
This year the
government almost tripled its anti-AIDS budget to $108 million, and plans to
up to $194 million in the next financial year.
Tony Leon, leader of the
main opposition Democratic Alliance, said South African women's average life
expectancy would fall from 54 to 38 over the next 10 years and over 2 million
children would be orphaned by AIDS.
``South Africa's fight against AIDS
has been massively hampered and harmed by government's dithering, denial and
dissent from the orthodoxies associated with the disease,'' he
President Thabo Mbeki has questioned the link between HIV and AIDS
in the past, but kept from commenting on the issue over the last few
Countries across Asia commemorated World AIDS Day with events to
raise awareness of the disease amid warnings that the number of infected
people in China and India, the world's two most populous nations, will reach
Carrying banners and signs, thousands took to the
streets in Hanoi and Bangkok on Sunday to promote AIDS awareness. India
staged a marathon to raise public knowledge of the disease, while Beijing's
imposing legislative hall hosted an awareness event.
death when it comes to fighting HIV/AIDS,'' said Jordan Ryan, the U.N.
resident coordinator in Vietnam, at a rally in Hanoi that drew 3,000 people.
``It's time to tear down the walls of stigma and silence.''
Nations has estimated that at the end of 2001, 6.6 million people throughout
Asia were living with HIV or AIDS, including about 1 million newly infected
In India, where some 4 million people are infected with HIV,
officials in the eastern city of Bhubaneshwar on Sunday unfurled a
record-long 3.7-mile-long banner to mark the day.
In Thailand, a
prison in Thailand opened its doors to family and friends of inmates in the
final stages of the disease, the Bangkok Post newspaper reported
World AIDS day events were low key in most southern African
In Malawi, where about 9 percent of the population is HIV
positive, the government warned that AIDS was decimating the civil service
and the economy.
``Every day we are burying our workers, our teachers,
our doctors and other professionals,'' Vice President Justin Malewezi said in
a statement issued together with the findings of a new study on the impact of
AIDS in Malawi.
The study found that high schools had to replace 77
percent of their staff every year because teachers die or are too ill to
In politically troubled Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe
acknowledged that 2.2 million of the country's 13 million people were HIV
positive, and that 700,000 children had been orphaned by AIDS.
impact of this tragedy has been such that each and every one of us knows of a
relative, a loved one or a friend who has either died of the epidemic or is
living with it,'' he said.
The human rights group Amnesty International
said Sunday that millions of people are doomed to early deaths because they
can't afford treatment for AIDS, and urged the United Nations to move quickly
on its goal of reversing the pandemic by 2015.
``Those who are on the
social margins of society, who are denied access to their most basic human
rights - to freedom from discrimination, to education, to physical integrity,
to health care and to economic security - are the most vulnerable to HIV
infection,'' Amnesty said.
In Brazil on Friday, 800 high school students
placed 15,000 red ribbons before the health ministry to symbolize the number
of people in the country who became infected with HIV this year.
NGO launches food aid programme for farm
workers Farming World Artwell Manyemba
WORKER communities, a segment of the Zimbabwe population that is marginalised
perennially, are breathing a sigh of relief as a local non-governmental
organisation has embarked on a food aid programme to avert starvation among
Farm Community Trust of Zimbabwe (FCTZ) last month started a
food distribution exercise targeting farm worker communities in the face
of ravaging food shortages in the country. The organisation is also
carrying out a supplementary feeding scheme in the farming areas, to cater
for the nutritional needs of farm workers' children.
Hamandishe, FCTZ communications officer this week said her organisation was
distributing food as well as providing nutri-meal porridge to farm worker
communities in four of the country's eight provinces.
assisting farm worker communities in Manicaland, Mashonaland Central, East
and West provinces, with monthly food rations. Children of farm workers and
former farm workers attending school and our play centres are receiving
porridge under our supplementary feeding scheme,"
She said the food programme, which was started
on November 1, had seen 355 tonnes of maize meal, 5.16 tonnes of beans and
cooking oil being distributed to farm worker households in the four
provinces. A total of around 6 500 households had each received a 50
kilogramme bag of maize meal, 10 kg of beans and two litres of cooking oil
for the month of November, Hamandishe said. On average each farm worker
household comprises of five people. FCTZ said it expects to distribute food
to over 50 000 farm worker households countrywide.
"Provisionally, the monthly food rations under the food aid programme will
continue until March next year," Hamandishe said.The
organisation's supplementary feeding scheme has seen 48 555 primary school
pupils and 22 549 playcentre kids being fed with porridge and mahewu (a
nutritional drink), so far. FCTZ is carrying out supplementary feeding at 169
farm primary schools and 431 feeding points for children under the age of
"Nutri-meal porridge is a fortified porridge because
it has vitamins and does not require any additional ingredients," said the
FCTZ communications officer.
"The aim of the programme is to
respond to the effects of drought and the countrywide food shortages. We aim
to enhance the nutritional status of farm workers' children, thereby reducing
malnutrition." FCTZ was formed in 1997 with a mandate to uplift the social
welfare of farm workers. Despite the agrarian reform, the organisation says
it is meeting challenges facing farming communities head-on and it had
adapted to the new needs of these communities, namely household food
Before the agrarian reform, it was estimated that about
350 000 people worked on the country's 4 500 large-scale commercial farms.
The workers, together with their families gave a population of around two
million people, about 20 percent of Zimbabwe's population.
line with its mandate, to provide a better life for farm worker communities,
FCTZ last month also handed over 30 Blair toilets to Kanyaga Primary School
in Makonde District, Mashonaland West province.
non-governmental organisation, Save the Children (UK) also handed over a
classroom block to the school on the same day.Kanyaga Primary School is
located on a State farm and has been occupied by villagers in the province as
well as former farm workers, either retired or retrenched as a result of the
land reform programme.
Farm workers in Zimbabwe originally migrated
from neighbouring countries before independence in 1980. However, the
majority of today's farmhands are third generation Zimbabweans with less than
20 percent still able to trace their ancestral backgrounds.
2001, FCTZ and SC (UK) conducted a research on the Chihwiti and Gambuli
informal settlements which incorporate Kanyaga Primary School. Critical
components of the findings revealed that the school lacked sanitation
facilities. About 106 boys were using a single toilet while 96 girls were
using a single toilet also, while the government recommends a ratio of 20
boys per toilet and 15 girls for a toilet," Hamandishe said.The school has an
enrolment of 1 600 pupils attending Grade One up to Form One. FCTZ provided
building materials such as wire-mesh and cement, and trained local builders
to construct the Blair toilets under supervision.
The Member of
Parliament for Makonde, Swithun Mombeshora and the Minister of Education,
Sport and Culture, Aeneas Chigwedere attended the hand-over ceremony and
witnessed the developments being initiated by the two NGOs.
presence of farm workers is a significant sign to show that commercial
agriculture in Zimbabwe is here to stay, despite the change in farm ownership
caused by the government driven land reform programme.
Agriculture and Plantation Workers' Union says the new indigenous farmers
were absorbing the retrenched farm workers.
From the famous Alan Hale - co-discoverer of the Hale-Bopp
Dear Citizens of Zimbabwe,
A year and a half
ago my family and I had the privilege of visiting your country, on the
occasion of the total solar eclipse that passed across your nation. During
the two weeks we spent in Zimbabwe we not only were able to see some of your
country's natural beauty, but we were also able to meet and interact with a
number of Zimbabwe's people from all walks of life. My whole family came away
not only with fond memories of our times in Zimbabwe, but also with friends
with whom we remain in regular contact.
We are well aware that
Zimbabwe has been going through some difficult times as of late. Because of
our memories of our visit to your country, and our continuing correspondences
with our friends there, these difficulties you are experiencing have touched
us in a very personal way. It is troubling to see any society experiencing
trials, but when those trials affect people we have visited, and have shared
laughter and tears with, it becomes immeasurably more troubling and
During my travels to various places on this planet
I have had the opportunity to interact with people from numerous societies
and cultures. While we may have our superficial differences, I've discovered
that, deep down, all of us, as human beings, seek the same things. We seek
security and well-being for ourselves and our families. We seek peace with
our fellow human beings. We seek to give our children the opportunity to
strive for, and achieve, their highest dreams. And we seek knowledge of our
world and understanding of ourselves and of our role within that
It can be difficult, in light of all the troubles that so
many of us over the world face, to be optimistic that we will ever be able to
achieve those things that all of us seek. But humanity has faced, and
overcome, challenges before, and while those facing us now are perhaps more
powerful than any we have ever faced, so, too, are the tools we have at our
disposal for confronting them. The most powerful tool is our own mind, and
the determination to see that we will succeed.
once challenged us to "be the change that you want to see in the world."
There is no limit to our ability to overcome our challenges, and to the
heights that we can achieve - if we will believe that we can
During this coming week, nature will smile upon
Zimbabwe once again, as a second total solar eclipse in as many years crosses
your country. I will not be able to be with you in person this time, but I
will still be with you in spirit. As we watch the light of the sun disappear,
let us remember that, in a few minutes' time, it will return; so also let us
remind ourselves that, however dark our present circumstances may be, a new
light will reappear, if we remain strong and
"We had four vehicles pitch up at the farm with armed
police and various other officials to inform us that we had 24 hours
to remove all our property and get off the farm "or face the
consequences". We had to hand over our keys and accept "caretakers" to
move onto the property to ensure that we did not remove what was now
theirs. Most of the district had the same message so we decided that
discretion was the better part of valour and that we would move so that
we could fight another day. The next day we hired a cattle truck, a
three tonner and other vehicles and with the help of various others
began the big move. In times of crisis some people become absolute
heroes whilst others show their true colours. We now know the goodies
from the baddies but generally we had a lot of help. 'Z' was
left very much to his own devices and had to load the cattle truck and
trailer which still had cattle manure in it and head for his house in
town. The stress and uncertainty took its toll on him but he has adapted
extremely well to town life and has a fine vegetable garden going and
has done remarkable things to the house in the short time he has been
there. We have had to unload many of our 20 odd years of accumulations
on to the auctions to make room for our new life in town. In the haste
we regret selling some of the stuff but that is bygones. Our own move
was less spectacular as we initially moved to a house on an ajoining
farm about three kilometers away with cattle sheep chickens dogs and
'Y'. Our workers were incredible and we owe them a huge debt of
gratitude. Long hours, heavy loads great stress and not one
complaint. Most of our implements and household goods were moved
in two days but it is surprising how much you accumulate on a farm
over the years and we were absolutely determined not to leave the "new
owners" anything at all. We were visited by a delegation of havoc
wreakers and informed that we were not to set foot on our farm and that
we were to remove our stuff yet again from where we had just moved to or
yet again face the consequences. 'Farm ABC' was not designated and we
had permission to move there from govt officials. After some negotiation
with various parties we were allowed to remain there but the situation
was not a pleasant one. We were very isolated with no phone and no
neighbours and every weekend faced intimidation from the "cell phone"
farmers out from town to visit their farm!!. ( There are about 5 people
remaining in the district, some of whom could not be relied on in times
of crisis). With much soul searching we decided that we should move to a
safer location in town. 'W' managed to find us this cottage on 4 acres
in 'XYZ' which is 10 k"s out of town. We moved in two weeks ago
along with most of our possessions and have managed to cram boxes
packing cases etc into the house and much of the farm stuff in the yard.
I had to drive an 8 tonner with four loads and managed to scare the
living daylights out of local traffic with my driving as well as
successfully destroying two gates. I was thinking of driving on the
maize relief run but they already have enough dangerous drivers. Last
Monday, after some negotiation, we were allowed back on the property to
remove what we had been unable to remove in the rush. There seemed to
be a bit of a turn around by govt officials and they were helpful to our
cause. Looking back on our first visit to the farm in nearly two months
I am not sure what my emotions were. Sure they have done nothing in
the lands which are lying dry and idle. I saw two guinea fowl where
before we left we had flocks, two warthog where we had so many, goats
living on the verandah smashed windows and a dry a lifeless garden.
Mangy flearidden dogs in the yard, scrawny chickens and thin soulless
people roaming here there and everywhere. The agrarian revolution is
undoubtedly a huge success!!!!!!!. Of the goats which have been brought
onto the property, one has been taken by a leopard and another five have
disappeared. I am saddened by the stupidity of it all. Not only for us
but for all of those who have put so much into this country and into
their farms and in most cases asked for so little back. In the last
few months I have come across good people, bad people, greedy people. I
have been amazed and shocked, at times I have been numbed. To those of
you who receive this e mail, you are good people. Thank you for your
support, it got us over the rough roads and set us in the right
direction. The greatest lesson of all? Never ever give up hope. There
are new dreams and aspirations around every corner and of course there
are still many good people out there to help you find the dreams. "
"A continuation of the saga We saw our
labour on Friday who rushed to the car to say a government vehicle had
come to the farm and asked why we had left and please could we come
back. There had been a terrible mistake and they were very sorry for all
the trouble we had had!!!! Hoax or no???? Our last cattle are
booked on the sale next week. We have sold our entire breeding herd
What do we do? Who do we believe? The saga continues!!! Oh this
wonderous place called Africa!"