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

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Commonwealth should expel Zimbabwe 'if elections not fair'

Zimbabwe should be expelled from the Commonwealth if it fails to hold free
and fair presidential elections next year, says New Zealand's Foreign

Phil Goff says Robert Mugabe has brought Zimbabwe to "the brink of

He claims the president's regime has also broken a Commonwealth-backed
agreement, aimed at finding a way through Zimbabwe's land reform process.

"President Mugabe appears ready to do anything to stay in power including
destroying his country, formerly one of the most promising economies in
southern Africa," Mr Goff said.

"It's very clear to me that if we do not have a free and fair election in
Zimbabwe before March 17, Zimbabwe no longer has any place within the
Commonwealth, should be suspended and expelled unless the current measures
are reversed," he added.

Mr Goff says he will speak next week with Commonwealth secretary-general Don
McKinnon to emphasise the "critical importance" of getting international
observers into Zimbabwe before the election.

Story filed: 08:26 Thursday 6th December 2001
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Probe fails to link ‘economic sabotage’ to white-run farms

Staff Reporter
12/6/01 1:37:54 AM (GMT +2)

A GOVERNMENT investigation into allegations of economic sabotage has failed
to unearth proof that whites are deliberately creating commodity shortages
and other economic hardships, although the probe linked some company
closures to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), it was
learnt this week.

According to the Indian Ocean Newsletter, published by Africa Intelligence,
the investigation was carried out by the National Economic Conduct
Inspectorate (NECI) earlier this year and has been kept secret until now.

The investigation did not find any proof of economic sabotage allegedly
perpetrated by white-owned companies that have closed down or downsized in
the past year and which have been blamed by President Robert Mugabe’s
government of trying to push it out of power.

No comment was available from NECI or Finance Minister Simba Makoni this

But according to the Indian Ocean Newsletter, the paucity of evidence has
been the main reason why no one has so far been convicted and imprisoned for
trying to sabotage the economy.

"The Ministry of Finance’s National Economic Conduct Inspectorate has not
been able to find any proof of economic sabotage allegedly perpetrated by
hundreds of white-headed companies having reduced operations or shut down
entirely," the newsletter said.

The investigations however found that a small number of firms had
deliberately failed to repatriate foreign currency into the country.

In one of the cases, the United Tour Company (UTC) is alleged to have failed
to bring back to Zimbabwe about US$1.5 million ($82.5 million) paid by
foreign tourists.

UTC managing director Patrick McCosh appeared in court in October facing
charges of contravening a section of the Exchange Control Act by allegedly
allowing his company to give foreign tourists petty cash locally for hard
cash paid overseas.

According to the newsletter, the NECI probe also unearthed links between the
MDC and some of the companies that have closed down in Zimbabwe.

At least 600 Zimbabwean companies have closed since the beginning of last
year due to the country’s worsening economic crisis, dramatised by foreign
currency and fuel shortages.

The problems are worse in the country’s second largest city, Bulawayo, where
50 percent of industry is said to be under extreme pressure and is
threatened with closure, resulting in the government charging that the
private sector was engaged in acts of economic sabotage.

The MDC this week denied any links with the private sector in Zimbabwe or
abroad and said its main source of funds are its members in their individual

"In fact, we have received very little funding from the corporate sector in
the last two-and-half years," MDC economic affairs secretary Eddie Cross
told the Financial Gazette.

Foreign funding of political parties was outlawed earlier this year as part
of efforts by the government to weaken the opposition, which it believes has
massive support from organisations abroad.

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Govt snubs farmers on land Act changes

Staff Reporter
12/6/01 2:31:05 AM (GMT +2)

THE government has snubbed requests by the commercial farmers organisation,
the Zimbabwe Joint Resettlement Initiative (ZJRI), for a meeting to discuss
amendments made to the Land Acquisition Act last month, it was learnt this

Agricultural industry sources said the government had rejected a written
plea by ZJRI last month asking for an urgent meeting to discuss the
amendments, under which farmers can be given 90 days notice to cease farming
and vacate their properties and which also limit the size of their

In the letter written by ZJRI chairman William Hughes, a copy of which was
shown to the Financial Gazette this week, the commercial farmers indicated
to the government that the amendments, which were gazetted last month, would
adversely affect them.

"Given the potential impact of (Statutory Instrument) SI 338 in combination
with the proposed maximum size regulations, we urgently request a meeting
with the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and the
Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Resettlement to clarify the government’s
intentions and the way forward for ZJRI," reads part of the letter.

"At least 85 percent of Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU) members are
immediately vulnerable to the new legislation and those not subject to SI
338 are now vulnerable to the proposed maximum farm size regulations."

There was no immediate comment this week from the ministers of agriculture
and justice, Joseph Made and Patrick Chinamasa, on the government’s
rejection of discussions with ZJRI, which in the past has had a relatively
warm relationship with the state.

The CFU has however warned of massive disinvestments from the agricultural
sector because of the amendments, while some analysts have forecast that the
measures requiring farmers to vacate their properties within three months
could lose the Zimbabwean economy more than 3 000 jobs and $7 billion in
revenue every month.

Farming sources said there was a group of individuals in the government that
was trying to scuttle ZJRI’s efforts to find a lasting solution to the land

They said the gazetted statutes flew in the face of the government and ZJRI’
s joint technical committee established to resolve the impasse over land

"This process (land reform) is being derailed by some individuals who do not
want to see solution to the land problem in Zimbabwe," a senior CFU official

"At one time you hear the right signals from some people but then you get a
totally different response when you engage some of them. It’s frustrating."

ZJRI is a partnership between commercial farmers and the private sector
which has offered the government an initial tranche of one million ha of
land to resettle more than 20 000 families, who would also benefit from a
$1.3 billion revolving fund.

Farmers this week said Monday’s ruling by the Supreme Court, which legalised
the government’s controversial fast-track land reform programme, had
dampened any hopes of successful talks with the government.

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Farmers get notice to destroy tobacco stocks

Staff Reporter
12/6/01 1:31:07 AM (GMT +2)

THE Zimbabwe government has given farmers until the end of next week to
destroy tobacco they might be holding on their farms as a precaution against
the spread of crop diseases, according to a recent statutory instrument..

A notice in the Government Gazette last week gives tobacco farmers until
December 15 to destroy the current crop.

"The effect of this is that anyone who has Virginia, Burley or Oriental
tobacco in his possession or under his control which has not been sold by 15
December will have to destroy all such tobacco on or before that date,
unless he holds a permit issued by the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board
(TIMB)," reads the notice.

Zimbabwe Tobacco Association president Kobus Joubert said the move was meant
to prevent farmers from keeping their crop until the next selling season as
this would result in the spread of diseases.

He said growers could still apply to the TIMB for a special permit to sell
tobacco, Zimbabwe’s single largest foreign currency earner, next year but
under very stringent conditions.

"This law is done for disease prevention," said Joubert. "You can apply to
the TIMB for a special permit to be allowed to sell your tobacco crop next

Joubert said his association was however still not aware of how much tobacco
had not been sold to the auction floors by the farmers this year.

There have been reports that some farmers could have withheld their crop in
protest over the current fast-track land reform plan that has resulted in
the government seizing commercial farms for the resettlement of landless

Zimbabwe’s tobacco selling season, which started on a slow note in April,
ended on October 26 with more than 202 million kg of flue-cured tobacco
worth more than $35 billion having been sold at the auction floors.

About 236.9 million kg of flue-cured tobacco worth $19.3 billion was sold in
the same period last year.

More than 4.5 million kg of Burley tobacco worth $422.6 million was sold in
the marketing season this year, compared to 7.6 million kg worth $301.6
million last year.

Tobacco farmers have warned that they have reduced plantings this season by
more than 10 000 hectares because of the disruption of agricultural activity
on farms forcibly occupied by self-styled war veterans and other ruling ZANU
PF party supporters.

This could have disastrous effects for Zimbabwe’s foreign currency
generation and worsen already critical hard currency shortages.

Long-term, a reduction in tobacco production could force some international
tobacco merchants to strike Zimbabwe off their list of reliable suppliers

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Farm inputs makers to lose $30b

Staff Reporter
12/6/01 1:36:10 AM (GMT +2)

ZIMBABWE’S agricultural input manufacturers and other service providers
involved in the land reform programme stand to lose more than $30 billion
during the current season because of new government controls of prices of
key inputs and its offer of free services to resettled farmers, analysts
said this week.

The analysts told the Financial Gazette that the fertiliser and maize seed
manufacturers would be among the companies severely affected by the
government’s decision to freeze prices of the products.

Other organisations likely to be affected by the fast-track land
resettlement exercise include the District Development Fund which is
expected to provide free tillage to resettled farmers.

The government last month introduced price controls on fertiliser and maize
seed in a move aimed at making the inputs affordable to the thousands of
newly resettled communal farmers.

"Given the number of families that have been resettled so far, the
government would have paid in excess of $30 billion if it had decided to
meet the full cost of some of the schemes under the resettlement exercise.
This is almost the same amount as the vote for defence," said an analyst
with a Harare-based commercial bank.

He, however, did not say how he arrived at the figure or give a breakdown of
how much the individual sectors would lose. The Ministry of Defence got
$34.4 billion in the 2002 national budget.

Official statistics show that more than 250 000 families have been resettled
under President Robert Mugabe’s controversial fast-track land reform

Consultant economist John Robertson said the cash-strapped Zimbabwe
government would be unable to meet the additional cost of subsidising
farmers because of the large numbers of farmers involved.

"Doing so would cause more problems for the country, given the already
precarious situation we find ourselves in," he said.

A dark cloud has hung over Zimbabwe’s key agriculture industry since last
year due to uncertainty among white commercial farmers about the land reform

More than 4 000 largely white-owned commercial farms have so far been
designated for acquisition under the fast-track resettlement programme,
causing uncertainty over the future of an industry that employs more than
350 000 workers.

Economists say commercial agriculture directly and indirectly contributes
about 50 percent of Zimbabwe’s annual gross domestic product while over 60
percent of local industry is agro-based.

The country’s agricultural output is estimated to have declined by 25
percent during the 2000/01 season and the country faces deficits of 593 000
tonnes for the staple maize, 150 000 tonnes for wheat and
11 000 tonnes for rice.

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ZANU PF takes over Zimbabwe’s top court

By Basildon Peta Special Projects Editor
12/6/01 2:47:28 AM (GMT +2)

THIS week’s ruling by the Supreme Court, which allowed the government to
press ahead with its controversial land reforms, was a clear indication that
the governing ZANU PF party has finally managed to take over the bench,
experts said this week.

The experts, including lawyers and constitutional law lecturers, described
as tragic the Supreme Court ruling that has finally legalised the
govern-ment’s controversial land reforms blamed for causing anarchy in

The Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, ruled on Monday
that the government had taken adequate steps to deal with violence on
commercial farms and so should therefore proceed with its land reforms.

University of Zimbabwe (UZ) law lecturer Lovemore Madhuku said the Supreme
Court had now been virtually reduced to a political organ of the governing
ZANU PF party.

"I have read the judgment in full. It has no legal reasoning, it is just a
collection of political statements," said Madhuku.

Another UZ lawyer Emmanuel Magade said he also disagreed with the judgment,
while constitutional law expert Greg Linington said he was thoroughly
disappointed with the judgment.

Chidyausiku, with the concurrence of three other judges of the Supreme
Court, ruled the Zimbabwe government had taken adequate steps to enforce the
rule of law in commercial farming areas and its controversial land reform
programme was therefore legal.

Chidyausiku said to expect the Zimbabwe government to bring about a total
crime-free environment on commercial farms would be "inconsistent with the
concept of the rule of law and its practical application".

He said the rule of law meant that the government should simply take
adequate measures to enforce law and order.

Justices Vernanda Ziyambi, Misheck Cheda and Luke Malaba concurred with
Chidyausiku while Justice Ahmed Ebrahim dissented.

Madhuku, the chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly — a coalition
of churches, human rights groups and professional organisations agitating
for a new Zimbabwean constitution — said it was clear that the three newly
appointed judges of the Supreme Court did not understand the concept of rule
of law.

"They have taken their political views on the land issue and translated them
into legal principles. That is wrong," Madhuku observed.

"This is a best example of a political judgment. It is also disturbing that
all the new judges who were recently appointed to the Supreme Court in
controversial circumstances ruled in favour of the government," he added.

Madhuku said the violence that had ravaged the commercial farming sector was
there for everyone to see.

He said any judiciary that found something favourable about what the
government did against its citizens could not be described as independent.

"Historically, the concept of an independent judiciary has always meant a
judiciary which is prepared to make judgments against a powerful government.
That is where the concept comes from and the Supreme Court has effectively
reversed that historical legal principle," he said.

Madhuku said the government had no rights in terms of the jurisprudence of
the Bill of Rights but people always had rights against the government, so
the Supreme Court should never grant the government rights against its

Linington said he was very disappointed with the judgment because it had
reversed an earlier Supreme Court ruling that had clearly stated the
standards on which the land reform programme should be based.

Although he said he had not yet read the full judgment, Linington said he
disagreed with the reasoning of the Supreme Court, judging from excerpts of
the judgment that he had read so far.

"The latest judgment is totally inconsistent with the earlier judgment of
the same court which made it very clear that land acquisition should only be
done through the existence of a proper land reform programme instead of in
the present chaotic manner," said Linington.

He said he disagreed that the government had managed to produce a proper and
workable land reform programme.

"I am disappointed with the approach of the Supreme Court. I disagree with
the reasoning and conclusion. I am in complete agreement with Judge Ebrahim’
s dissenting opinion," said Linington.

Magade said he disagreed with the judgment especially on the point that the
government had taken adequate steps to restore the rule of law.

"That is a very debatable point and I am not sure whether even the ordinary
man in the street will agree with the observations of the Supreme Court,"
said Magade.

Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU) president Colin Cloete said his union had
expected the Supreme Court to find that the current manner in which land
acquisition was being implemented was generally unlawful.

Several farmers interviewed said the judgment was tragic for their future
and had lost all hope that they could expect fair treatment from President
Robert Mugabe’s government.

"All my property and the farm house were destroyed by the government’s
militias and yet they say there is rule of law. The only thing I can now do
is to pack and go," said one farmer on condition of anonymity.

The CFU had asked Chidyausiku to recuse himself, arguing that he had made
political statements supporting Mugabe’s land seizures before and that those
statements had compromised his neutrality.

Chidyausiku refused and in his ruling this week said the presence of the
rule of law did not mean a totally crime-free environment.

"The test for the restoration of the rule of law in the commercial farming
areas is, in our view, not the number and gravity of the criminal acts
committed but rather all the measures, including policing and prosecution
adopted by the government in the land reform exercise," said Chidyausiku.

Chidyausiku, a member of Mugabe’s ruling ZANU PF party, said the government
had managed to produce a workable land reform exercise and could therefore
continue with its controversial land reforms.

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Mbeki delivers sucker punch on Mugabe

By Abel Mutsakani Assistant News Editor
12/6/01 2:49:08 AM (GMT +2)

REGIONAL superpower South Africa’s new bare-knuckle tactic to nudge
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe off his controversial policies could
instead deal the killer-punch to the embattled Mugabe administration,
analysts said this week.

Besides isolating Mugabe more than before, the unspoken but most significant
point under-scored by South African President Thabo Mbeki’s new policy
thrust, was that Pretoria could easily flex its economic muscle if Harare
continued defying international calls to uphold the rule of law and hold a
free and fair presidential poll next year.

University of Zimbabwe (UZ) political science professor Elphas Mukonoweshuro
said Mbeki, who within a week has become Mugabe’s most critical neighbour,
was in fact telling the embattled Zimbabwean leader that the game was up.

"Mbeki is saying Mugabe must comply with the requirements of good governance
or face the consequences, much like in the 1970s when John Vorster pressured
Rhodesian leader Ian Smith into negotiating with the black nationalists,"
Mukonoweshuro said.

At the height of Zimbabwe’s war of independence, Vorster — the then South
African who had firmly stood by Smith’s Rhodesia — successfully forced the
Rhodesian leader into talks with black nationalists after threatening to
withdraw his critical support.

Abandoning his quiet diplomacy that has so dismally failed to move Mugabe,
Mbeki openly blamed the ZANU PF leader for ruining the Southern Africa
Development Community (SADC)’s second largest economy through two decades of
wrong economic policies.

Ignoring the historic solidarity built between his African National Congress
(ANC) party and ZANU PF during the bitter years of anti-colonial struggle,
Mbeki urged other SADC governments to pressurise Mugabe to ensure a free and
fair presidential poll next year.

Political analysts say Mugabe loathes a free and fair poll because the
opposition Movement for Democratic (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai can easily
defeat him.

The MDC braved unprecedented political violence in which more than 30
people, most of them its supporters, were killed to almost defeat ZANU PF by
winning 57 seats against the governing party’s 62.

Analysts said Mbeki’s remarks, that came as the US legislature this week
took measures to approve a Bill to impose sanctions on Mugabe and his top
lieutenants, were meant to tell the Zimbabwean leader that he should not
expect any more protection from Pretoria, which has rallied behind him all

The European Union (EU) is also considering imposing targeted sanctions
against Mugabe, members of his family and top officials of his government
because of his controversial land reforms and failure to uphold democracy
and good governance.

While an oil deal with Libya has to some extent reduced dependency on South
Africa, UZ business studies professor Tony Hawkins said Zimbabwe "remained
on its feet" largely because Mbeki allowed South African goods, especially
from state-controlled companies, to flow into the country despite Harare’s
erratic repayment.

Zimbabwe imports additional electricity and oil requirements from South
Africa. About 30 percent of its imports are from its southern neighbour
while 10 percent of its exports are sold to that country.

The bulk of all of Zimbabwe’s other imports from the rest of the world come
through South African ports, according to Hawkins.

"Clearly the South Africans wield a lot of economic influence which if they
want to use they could do so quite effectively," Hawkins said.

But newspaper publisher and political analyst Ibbo Mandaza said Pretoria,
the economic engine of SADC, would still face immense difficulties in
rallying southern African states, let alone the rest of Africa, to back its
get-tough policy on Zimbabwe or support EU and US sanctions against

Mandaza said: "Many African states will not support sanctions against
Zimbabwe not because they support what is happening here. It has more to do
with self-interest. It has more to do with the fact that many of the African
states are vulnerable to such pressures and therefore are not likely to
easily accept such a precedent being set on Zimbabwe."

Mbeki’s spokesman Bheki Khumalo was however quoted on South African radio
saying Pretoria opposed any form of sanctions against Harare and that Mbeki
preferred dealing with the Zimbabwean crisis in the context of SADC.

Mukonoweshuro said South Africa, which all along has defended Mugabe and his
government, was in fact also under immense pressure from Brussels and
Washington to take the lead in reigning in the Zimbabwean leader.

Mukonoweshuro said Mugabe, well known for his love to swim against the tide,
might still defy Mbeki and SADC but the respected political analyst said
that would be a perilous course for Mugabe to take.

"South Africa alone has the economic power to bring Mugabe and his
government to their knees and what Mbeki is saying now is that Mugabe must
play ball or he will be clobbered," Mukono-weshuro observed.

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Mugabe seeks Mbeki summit

By Sydney Masamvu Political Editor
12/6/01 2:17:47 AM (GMT +2)

A SHAKEN President Robert Mugabe is seeking an urgent meeting with South
African President Thabo Mbeki to try to mend the rift that has developed
between them following Mbeki’s scathing attack on Mugabe’s policies,
official sources said this week.

The Mbeki summit comes hot on the heels of the Zimbabwean leader’s hurried
departure for Spain on Sunday to seek the support of Spanish authorities
against pending European Union (EU) sanctions.

Mbeki, in his first public rebuke of Mugabe, over the weekend said the
Zimbabwean leader’s policies had destroyed southern Africa’s second largest
economy and that the country’s presidential election next year was unlikely
to be free and fair.

According to some Cabinet ministers, the idea of a fire-dousing meeting with
Mbeki was being actively pursued but the dates had not been finalised by

"President Mugabe has been advised to have a meeting with President Mbeki so
that the two can have a frank talk about the events in Zimbabwe and try to
bridge a rift which is developing between the two countries," one Cabinet
minister, who preferred not to be named, told the Financial Gazette

Other sources confir-med that Zimbabwean diplomats were in a flurry of
activity this week trying to damage-control and limit the impact of Mbeki’s
outburst on future relations between southern Africa’s two largest

In his first public criticism of how Zimbabwean authorities were
mishand-ling the deteriorating political and economic situation in the
country, Mbeki warned that Mugabe should no longer expect any more
protection from South Africa.

Mbeki’s remarks come at a time when international pressure is mounting
against the Mugabe administration.

The US Congress yesterday passed the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic
Recovery Bill which, among other penalties, places travel bans on Mugabe,
his Cabinet and senior ZANU PF officials.

The US measures, which now await President George W Bush’s signature, will
also freeze the assets of the Zimbabwean leader and those of his leading

The EU is also considering slapping "smart sanctions on Zimbabwe" while a
Commonwealth ministerial team meets next month to review the worsening
situation in Zimbabwe.

Government sources said Mugabe hurriedly boarded an Air Zimbabwe plane bound
for London on Sunday and diverted it to Madrid where he is seeking audience
with Spanish authorities to mediate for him against the pending EU

Spain, which has been sympathetic to the beleaguered Zimbabwean leader in
the past, assumes the six-month presidency of the EU early next year.

The sources said Mugabe’s trip to Madrid was also meant to repair the damage
between Harare and Brussels caused by his antics such as storming from a
meeting between him and senior EU officials recently.

According to the sources, major differences are also emerging within ZANU PF
on how to react to Mbeki’s attack and the future of relations with Pretoria.

They said panic had set in after the weekend attack and debate was raging
within ZANU PF with the hawks advocating for a "go it alone" approach while
others viewed South Africa’s support as critical if Zimbabwe was to weather
pending international sanctions.

"Some leaders are for the hardline approach of fighting our own battle
saying it is a matter of time before South Africa experiences the same type
of problems, while others think the issue is too delicate and should be
handled with utmost care," another Cabinet minister said.

The sources said some of the ministers were concerned that an attack this
week on Mbeki by the government’s Herald newspaper, which described the
South African leader as "a Judas Iscariot", would make their fire-fighting
attempt even more difficult.

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SADC unions take aim at Zimbabwe and Swaziland

Thabo Mabaso
December 06 2001 at 06:44AM
Johannesburg - Southern African trade union federations yesterday called for
greater worker unity to end political upheavals threatening the region's
social and economic balance.

Speaking after a three-day executive council meeting of the Southern African
Trade Union Co-ordinating Council (Satucc), the body's president, Zwelinzima
Vavi, said the region was facing daunting challenges.

"Southern Africa faces the challenges of high unemployment, poverty,
HIV/Aids, and, in some countries, continued repressive regimes and
conflict," said Vavi, who is also the general secretary of Cosatu. "Labour
must unite to end these scourges."

Satucc is the umbrella body for all trade federations in the Southern
African Development Community (SADC) except Mauritius and the Democratic
Republic of Congo.

The Satucc executive singled out Zimbabwe and Swaziland for criticism.

Vavi said these two countries, especially Zimbabwe, had degenerated into
anarchy over the past year.

In Zimbabwe, farms owned by whites have been occupied by so-called veterans
of the 1970s liberation struggle.

The economy has deteriorated considerably, causing prices of basic goods to
rise steeply.

Activists opposed to President Robert Mugabe's 21-year rule have embarked on
sustained mass mobilisation campaigns against his government.

Zimbabwe is scheduled to hold an election early next year.

Swaziland, ruled by a monarch, has also been engulfed by civil unrest
following a crackdown by the government on opposition politics and trade
union activism.

Vavi said the situation in Zimbabwe had reached crisis proportions.

"We are going to write a letter to President Mugabe to call on him to make a
positive contribution E to ensure law and order prevail.

"We are also going to appeal to him that we be part of the observers during
the elections."

Vavi urged political leaders within the SADC to combine their efforts in the
fight against tyrannical regimes in the region.

He added that the next meeting of Satucc's executive council would decide on
a programme of action against governments deemed to be repressive.

Two years ago, Cosatu members mounted a blockade of the border crossing
between South Africa and Swaziland, as a protest against the tiny kingdom's
alleged abuses of human rights.

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Daily News

EU gives Zimbabwe $63bn despite diplomatic impasse

12/6/01 2:24:12 AM (GMT +2)

By Ngoni Chanakira Business Editor

DESPITE the diplomatic stand-off between economically embattled Zimbabwe and
the European Union (EU), the European Commission (EC), the executive arm of
the EU, is going ahead with disbursing financial aid to the country to the
tune of Euro 133,2 million (more than Z$63 billion).

While the debate continues about whether the EU will send election monitors
and observers to Zimbabwe, the EC has earmarked Euro 1 million (about Z$48
million) for various programmes dealing with elections. In its bid for “good
governance” and to stamp out “corruption”, the Commission has set aside Euro
200 000 for supporting the Legal Resources Foundation, Euro 600 000 for
“stamping out and fighting corruption”, and Euro 200 000 for the election
monitoring programme. The money, most of which is for social services,
however, is for the period ending 31 December this year.

There are questionable prospects of further funding next year as the EU, to
whom the Commission accounts, and Zimbabwe, are embroiled in tough talks on
the economic and political situation bedevilling the nation. The EU and
Zimbabwe are engaged in tense discussions over the country’s Presidential
election set for early next year, which pits President Mugabe and MDC
president, Morgan Tsvangirai.

The EU has said it intends to send observers or monitors to Zimbabwe for the
poll. However, Zimbabwe, on the other hand, has maintained that the EU
should not get involved in its internal affairs because it is a sovereign
state. Mugabe has also told the United States of America as well as the
Commonwealth to keep their hands off Zimbabwe. Most of the money, Euro 33
million (about Z$158,4 million), has been set aside for the country’s
HIV/Aids programme.

The HIV/Aids pandemic is debilitating the nation, killing about 2 500 people
weekly. About one in every four Zimbabweans is said to be carrying the
deadly virus. However, a decision is yet to be finalised on how the money
will be distributed nationally.
This money is being made available in the Health Sector Support Programme
II. The National Aids Council has been accused of abusing money which it
receives monthly from taxpayers for Aids support projects The Commission is
earmarking Euro 24,5 million (Z$120 million) for the Health Sector Support
Programme I and Euro 11,4 million (Z$576 million) for the Education
Transition and Reform Programme.

Under a programme meant to improve the livelihoods of “vulnerable and
poorest” individuals, the government will receive Euro 14 million for
small-scale irrigation projects, Euro 25 million for various micro-projects
and Euro 100 000 for tool-making and repair at Mwenezi. Other projects to be
funded by the EC include capacity building programmes countrywide.
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Daily News - Leader Page

Folly of denying people their right to vote

12/6/01 1:54:14 AM (GMT +2)

By Bekezela Dube

IN the 1960s, we took up arms against an obstinate government that refused
to grant the majority of blacks the right to vote. Twenty-one years from our
Independence Day in 1980, the events of that dark period in our history have
failed to serve as a stark reminder of the folly of denying a people their
democratic right.

The last few weeks saw Zanu PF, in a bid to tip the political field in its
favour, make calculated changes to the electoral laws, aimed at limiting the
disgruntled vote.

Postal ballots will now be confined to those overseas and abroad manning
diplomatic missions and soldiers in active duty in foreign lands. Even if
those who want to vote make every effort to come back home for the election,
they will still have to satisfy stipulated conditions; for example, they
will be required to provide proof they have been paying rates for the past
12 months.
As for bookworms studying abroad who want to come back to a beautiful and
prosperous Zimbabwe after their studies, they will not be given a chance to
express their democratic right - they present a great danger to the ruling
party and their exclusion is meant to maintain the status quo.

This move by the ruling party, although clearly unconstitutional, will
reduce the potential threat substantially and leave Zanu PF to focus on the
internal threat. We all know how Zanu PF has always dealt with opposition:
beat them blue and leave them cowed.
And what has Zanu PF done to see to it that they win the election?
Nine-hundred and sixty youths have been trained in all those things that the
party deems fit to inculcate in our youth, ostensibly to ensure victory for
the party through violence.

It has fast-tracked the land reform programme in a bid to woo the rural
vote; it has denied opposition parties access to international funding; and
it has threatened commercial farmers and local business against associating
with opposition parties.
Violence has already reared its ugly head in Matabeleland North. In Lupane,
Limukani Luphahla was brutally murdered. Then we lost Cain Nkala, a very
ambitious man, who had been identified as the last person to see Patrick
Nabanyama - the polling agent for the now MP for Bulawayo South, David
Coltart (MDC) - alive.

Now the success of the people will depend on whether the electorate has
nerves of steel, or whether they can stand the pressure. Put above all this,
success will depend entirely on all of us sacrificing our resources to push
through the struggle.
There is definitely nothing that Zanu PF can do for this country; and those
who will be voting for the MDC candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, are not doing
so because he is the best candidate to turn the country’s economy around and
create jobs for the unemployed. No, they are doing so because he is the only
man so far who has put his life on the line and challenged President Mugabe
in the 2002 ballot in order to allow people to do what they want to do for
their own country. People want change and Tsvangirai is expected to provide
the basis for this change.

It is important to go back to the period of the Constitutional Commission
last year and listen to the common feeling that people were more concerned
about the Presidency than anything else. Actually in their limited
understanding of the whole exercise they did mention something about
changing people in positions of power instead of having one set only. And
these were people from our villages - dotted as wide as Mutoko, Tsholotsho
and Chipinge - and not those of us who have been forced to become economic
exiles. These are the people who wanted change, people who have always been
denied this change and now they see it in Tsvangirai. Nothing can save Zanu
PF, the people alone know what they want. No amount of force or election
rigging will stop them from doing what they want to do.

In Bulawayo, in the face of Zanu PF’s orchestrated orgy of violence people
were heard to remark they had made up their minds about who they want to
vote for. They emphasised Zanu PF’s violent campaign tactics will not do
anything to endear them to the ruling party. The real reason why the
government is so jittery and has come up with these repressive laws is that
it knows who the millions of Zimbabweans in the diaspora will vote for, and
this is a deliberate attempt to bar them from adding to the ever-increasing
disgruntled vote.

As for the disenfranchised Zimbabweans abroad, there is still a chance of
joining in the fight against this despotic rule.
Channel more resources to your relatives who will be your hope in this
fight. The inside vote is enough to bring about meaningful change.

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Daily News

BBC denies Herald story

12/6/01 2:54:11 AM (GMT +2)

Staff Reporter

THE British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), has dismissed as untrue, a
report which appeared in The Herald on 30 November which stated that the
British government intended to mount a blitz against Zimbabwe by
broadcasting in Shona and Ndebele to incite the people against the
government of President Mugabe.

In a letter to Pikirayi Deketeke, the editor of the government-controlled
Herald newspaper, Kari Blackburn, the head of African services, said the BBC
did not have any plans to broadcast in Shona and Ndebele. Blackburn wrote:
“The BBC does not broadcast in Shona and Ndebele and we have no plans to do
so, either on our own or in partnership with any other organisation.”
Quoting alleged unnamed sources in London, The Herald reported that the BBC
was recruiting Zimbabweans to do the broadcasts, which, according to the
paper, are expected to start this month.

The Herald stated: “The sources said the recruits, some of whom were
involved in the unsuccessful bid to illegally establish Capital Radio last
year, were presently doing rehearsals in London.” Dismissing the story,
Blackburn said it was incorrect to refer to the BBC as a state-run
broadcaster. “The BBC is a public service broadcaster, not a government
mouthpiece,” said Blackburn.
He said the corporation was regulated by an independent group of BBC
governors who are responsible for ensuring the corporation’s independence
from the British government, as well as ensuring that BBC programmes
maintain the highest standards and values, including editorial independence,
accuracy, fairness and impartiality.

“These values prevent us from producing programming aimed at inciting people
to revolt against governments as suggested in your piece. Impartiality lies
at the heart of the BBC, it is a core value for us, and no area of
programming is exempt from it,” said Blackburn. Deketeke could not be
reached for comment on Tuesday.

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Daily News

Farmer withdraws case against CIO boss

12/6/01 2:54:52 AM (GMT +2)

From Our Correspondent in Gweru

The trial of Kwekwe Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) boss, George
Valentine Makombe and his co-accused Gilbert Bhebhe, on charges of armed
robbery and stocktheft was cancelled at the last minute on Tuesday after the
complainant, a commercial farmer, withdrew the case before plea.

Instead, the farmer Andreas Raft told Gweru regional magistrate, Garainesu
Mawadze, he preferred to have the matter settled out of court. Makombe, 45,
and Bhebhe, 54, were facing charges of armed robbery and stocktheft
involving Raft’s 34 head of cattle valued at $750 000.

Raft said in his sworn affidavit submitted to the court:
“I reckon that the nature of the relationship between myself and my family
on one hand and Mr Bhebhe and his family on the other, is such that I do not
feel comfortable giving evidence against him, let alone to try and place him
in an embarrassing position as a person who transgressed from the law.
“I believe Mr Bhebhe is well able to make good the loss that was occasioned
by the conduct for which he and the co-accused are alleged to have done,” he
Bhebhe was represented by Dumisani Kufaruwenga, while Makombe was
represented by Christopher Dube. The state allegations were that on 23
January this year, Makombe and Bhebhe connived to rob Raft of his cattle.
Makombe, then a senior CIO official based at the agency’s Kwekwe offices and
Zanu PF chairman for Kwekwe district, is alleged to have hired three party
youths to facilitate the racket.

The youths were identified as Thulani Mpofu, 22, Nokuthula Mpofu, 18, and
Farai Kwangwari (age not given). Bhebhe, a prominent Kwekwe businessman,
allegedly provided five trucks and a cattle movement permit. At about
10:30am that same day, the accused drove to Raft’s Andrew Estate along the
Kwekwe-Gweru road armed with knobkerries, sticks and iron bars. On arrival
at the farm, the hired Zanu PF youths allegedly ordered the farm workers to
produce Zanu PF cards.

After they failed to produce the cards the farm workers were threatened and
ordered to drive all the cattle to the loading ramp where 34 were
immediately loaded onto the trucks. The other cattle bolted out of the ramp
and escaped. Thirty one of the 34 stolen cattle were sold at the Cold
Storage Company abattoir in Masvingo, but the state failed to account for
the other three cattle.

Bhebhe received a cheque payment for $434 361,17 which he cashed and shared
the money with Makombe. The hides of the slaughtered beasts were recovered
at the CSC Masvingo abattoir. They were all positively identified by the
farm owner.

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Hi again.

Well, Al made good progress since my last update and was really pleased.  We
have had a set-back today though which has upset him a lot.  They removed
the drain from the lung today and he was so relieved - there was much less
pain and he was free to move about without lugging his "bucket" along.
Any-way this feeling was short-lived when he was told this evening that they
will have to put it back!  There is fluid collecting again and as a result
of this he has a temperature.  He was very disappointed because the drain
really does cause him a lot of pain but he resolved to get used to the idea
and I feel sure he will be more positive tomorrow.
He is still very tired and they still fear the risk of infection.
I collect the boys tomorrow for the holidays and am really looking forward
to that - Alan really wants to see them so hope we can  make a plan.
Thanks for all your thoughts - keep those prayers up.
Take good care.
The Bradleys

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Melbourne Age

32 killed, thousands displaced in Zimbabwe: report
HARARE, Dec 6 AFP|Published: Friday December 7, 3:26 AM

Thirty-two people have been killed in political violence in Zimbabwe so far
this year, and thousands of others have been displaced, a local human rights
group has claimed.

Most of the violence was committed by supporters of the governing Zimbabwe
African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), but the main opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was also to blame, the Human Rights
Forum (HRF) said in its report, obtained by AFP Thursday.

"The violence, which has mainly implicated ZANU-PF supporters... has also
implicated some MDC supporters," the report said.

The HRF claimed that violence arose following challenges the MDC mounted in
the country's courts against ruling party victories in last year's
parliamentary elections.

"Human rights abuses have been reported in all cases that have appeared
before the High Court," the report said.

The opposition MDC alleges that ruling party victories were secured through
violence and intimidation ahead of the poll.

The MDC has filed electoral challenges to results in at least 37

The HRF said displacements were due to "extreme fear of victimisation and
repeated intimidation".

"There may be as many as 42,711 internally displaced persons since January
2001," the report said.

"Victims are often forced to look for alternative housing and many are
forced to live with family or friends elsewhere in the country."

The HRF -- which used medical assessments, legal statements and newspaper
reports to compile its tally -- also cited 2,011 cases of torture (including
rape), 992 cases of unlawful detention or arrest by police, and 299
disappearances or kidnappings.

The HRF groups non-governmental organisations in the country who assist
victims of organised violence.

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Hindustan Times

Zimbabwe accuses US of interfering in its domestic affairs
Angus Shaw (AP)
Harare, December 6

A US threat to impose sanctions against Zimbabwe to protest democratic and
human rights abuses amounts to unwarranted interference in the southern
African nation, a Zimbabwean diplomat said Thursday.
In the first official response to a bill passed overwhelmingly by the US
House of Representatives Tuesday, Zimbabwe's ambassador to the United
States, Simbi Mubako, told state radio US lawmakers were impinging on
Zimbabwe's sovereignty.

"It is direct interference in the country's internal affairs," he said.

The Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Bill proposes a package of
measures that would freeze new investment in Zimbabwe and compel US
representatives to international financial institutions to try to block aid
or debt relief.

The bill, which has not yet been signed by President George W. Bush, demands
Zimbabwe restore the rule of law and an orderly land reform program and
ensure presidential elections scheduled for early next year are free and

Other measures, described by officials as "smart sanctions," could bar
members of the government and President Robert Mugabe's ruling party from
entering the United States and clamp down on any of their US-held assets.

If the bill's conditions are met, the US Treasury Department could help find
debt relief for the country. It would also allow the release of dlrs 20
million to help fund land reform and dlrs 6 million for election monitoring.

The state-controlled Herald newspaper said Thursday the government in Harare
was studying the bill and would comment on it "should it be necessary."

It quoted Mubako as saying the legislation was not expected to have an
immediate impact.

"In the long run, the impact would be felt on the economy but it is the
ordinary workers who will suffer," he said.

Most Western investment, aid and loans have dried up as political violence
convulsed the country after March 2000, when armed ruling party militants
began occupying more than 1,700 white-owned farms, demanding they be
redistributed to landless blacks.

The government has listed some 4,500 properties - about 95 percent of
farmland owned by whites - for nationalization without compensation. Last
month it warned about 800 farmers they had three months to vacate their

The government insists it has complied with its land reform laws and
continuing incidents of violence are isolated and criminally motivated.

Zimbabwe's highest court Monday upheld the government plan to seize the
farms in a ruling by four recently appointed judges accused by landowners of
political bias.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change accuses the government of
orchestrating the violent land seizures to shore up its support in rural
districts ahead of presidential elections.

The opposition, the biggest challenge to Mugabe's 21-year rule, narrowly
lost parliamentary elections in June 2000.

Opposition spokesman Learnmore Jongwe said ruling party officials "have
asked for the (US) legislation" through their conduct.

No comment was immediately available from Mugabe. Officials said he was out
of the country on a visit to Spain.


Zimbabwe denounces Washington over sanctions bill

HARARE, Dec. 6 — The Zimbabwean government slammed the United States on
Thursday for a bill threatening sanctions against President Robert Mugabe
and his associates, and accused the opposition of sponsoring the
Information Minister Jonathan Moyo said on state television the main
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and its ''racist
supporters'' had campaigned for the punitive bill, which was approved by the
U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday.
       After silence on Wednesday over what many see as the most serious
diplomatic move yet in isolating Mugabe, senior government officials accused
Washington of interfering in Zimbabwe's internal affairs, and the MDC of
       ''The so-called Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Bill
containing sanctions against Zimbabwe is the clearest statement that the
U.S., Britain and some countries are interfering in our internal affairs,
and are desperate to see a puppet movement like the MDC come to power
here,'' Moyo said.
       ''We denounce this interference, but more so we denounce the MDC, and
its Rhodesian and Selous Scouts supporters who are responsible for
championing this evil bill,'' Moyo said.
       Rhodesians refer to Zimbabwean whites who allegedly hanker for
pre-independence white minority rule. The Selous Scouts were a notorious
commando unit of former Premier Ian Smith's Rhodesia government during
Zimbabwe's 1970s independence war.
       Moyo said by championing the sanctions bill, the MDC had ''proved
beyond doubt that it was a sell-out organisation'' prepared to see
Zimbabweans suffer in its bid for power.
       Mugabe's spokesman George Charamba said the sanctions would not force
the government to change its policies.

       Felix Schmidt, Harare director of the German non-governmental agency
Friederich Ebert Foundation said he had received an anonymous threatening
phone call over the sanctions, even though his organisation had nothing to
do with the bill.
       ''Someone phoned my office and said, 'It's you whites behind the U.S.
sanctions bill. Watch out','' he said, adding he took the threat seriously,
but would not be closing the office.
       The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday endorsed the Zimbabwe
Democracy and Economic Recovery Bill -- a stick and carrot approach -- to
press Mugabe to ensure free elections and establish land ownership
protections in his country.
       On a 396-11 vote, the House approved the bill, which was passed by
the Senate in August, offering Zimbabwe a broad package of aid and economic
enticements on condition it ended its sponsorship of violence and committed
to an equitable land reform programme.
       The bill urges President George W. Bush to consult with European
Union countries, Canada and other nations on possible actions to be taken
against those responsible for violence in Zimbabwe, including Mugabe.
       On Wednesday, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said Commonwealth
ministers would meet in London in the week starting December 17 to also
discuss possible sanctions against Zimbabwe.
       Mugabe has vowed to continue his controversial land seizure drive
''with or without sanctions'' and says he will win next year's presidential
vote due in April.
       Mugabe, 77, has held power since the former Rhodesia gained
independence from Britain in 1980 but is expected to face the stiffest
challenge of his career in elections from MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

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The Independent (UK)

Mugabe sees doctors in Spain

By Basildon Peta in Harare
07 December 2001
President Robert Mugabe has flown to Spain for urgent medical attention,
amid indications that the health of the 77-year-old Zimbabwean leader is

The President's medical condition is a closely guarded secret, but doctors
will be flown from France to treat him after he ordered a London-bound Air
Zimbabwe flight to drop him and his entourage in Madrid last Sunday.

Forty paid-up passengers were left standing at Harare airport to make room
for the presidential party. When he will return is not clear.

Sources say the country's leader of 21 years is determined to stay on and
contest elections next April despite suffering a number of fits in recent
months and collapsing at State House. "He is prepared to contest them from
his deathbed," one official said.

He is understood to have travelled without an invitation from Spain, but
there is speculation his aides will lobby the next holders of the European
Union presidency to resist sanctions while he is there.

The United States fell into line this week with a sanctions mechanism
already launched by the European Union and backed by the Commonwealth.
President Mugabe's cabinet announced that he wanted to meet Thabo Mbeki, the
South African President, over his hardening stance on Zimbabwe.

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A safe haven, if convenient

Angela Neustatter
Tuesday December 4, 2001
The Guardian

Hilton Matiza and Gerald Muketiwa must be wondering what the British
government's condemnation of Robert Mugabe's regime for human rights abuses
really means. It clearly doesn't mean that even when regimes are held up as
tyrannical and brutal, Britain will provide a safe haven to people fleeing
them. Matiza and Muketiwa left Zimbabwe after alleged brutality, torture and
death threats, but they are facing deportation this week after their
applications for asylum were refused.
Press coverage of events in Zimbabwe has vividly shown the treatment meted
out to anyone Mugabe deems a suitable target. Nobody is more at risk than
members of the Movement for Democratic Change, like Matiza and Muketiwa.

The number of black Zimbabweans seeking asylum in Britain has risen so
rapidly that Zimbabwe is among the three countries making up the biggest
increase in asylum applications. But their treatment shows how meaningless
all the speaking-out against tyrannical regimes and the hand-wringing over
human rights really is. Zimbabweans are not uniquely badly treated. They are
simply the latest to suffer a neat volte-face in compassion that has become
even more pronounced since the Home Office's decision to cut back those
granted asylum still further.

It has already happened to Iraqis. The immigration lawyer Louise Christian
has an ever-growing caseload of desperate refugees, but they had always been
allowed to remain "in whatever capacity" because it was accepted that their
circumstances were bad. In November last year she and other immigration
lawyers representing more than 250 Iraqi asylum seekers wrote to the then
home officer minister, Barbara Roche, to protest that their clients were
suddenly getting letters refusing their claims without even exceptional
leave to remain. There has been no conspicuous change in Saddam Hussein's
treatment of his people, but that does not seem to matter.

Nor were Afghans who hijacked a plane and flew it to Britain seeking asylum
welcomed warmly, even though their Taliban rulers were not recognised as a
government and much was made of the human rights abuses they meted out.

East European Romas are rarely granted asylum, according to the Refugee
Council, even though some live with the ever-present possibility of seeing
their homes burnt or of being beaten up while the police look the other way.

Tim Baster, of Bail for Immigration Detainees, has seen Zimbabweans put into
detention or even maximum-security prisons while they await their hearings,
even though some have relatives and friends here who could put them up. It
is a breach of the European convention to detain people on the basis of
nationality, he says, but he is sure this is what is happening.

This treatment contrasts with the concern Jack Straw expressed when, as home
secretary, he talked about how Zimbabweans who had a relative in Britain
would be given long-term permission to stay without having to go through the
new asylum system. That does not seem to be the case with the black
Zimbabweans described by Tim Baster.

Last summer British and European diplomats in Harare were putting in place a
contingency plan to evacuate up to 25,000 UK nationals if things got too
dangerous. Why should the quality of mercy be so constrained? Why are black
Zimbabweans brave enough to oppose the regime considered to be in less
danger, or their suffering to be less important, than white farmers? Why are
we prepared to murmur about support for an American attack on Iraq because
Saddam Hussein is such an intolerable leader, yet turn away people who will
return to torture, if not death?

Nick Hardwick, director of the Refugee Council, puts forward a particularly
chilling theory. He believes that countries with the worst human rights
abuses threaten Britain with the largest number of asylum seekers at a time
when the government is bent on cutting the numbers of people granted the
right to stay.

Detaining them in grim conditions and then deporting them is a way of
deterring others who might think it is worth coming here in the hope that
caring, sharing Britain just might protect them from fates that may be worse
than death but all too often end that way anyway.

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Victoria Falls Hotels Win Lucrative Political Conference

African Eye News Service (Nelspruit)

December 6, 2001
Posted to the web December 6, 2001

Marvelous Mpofu
Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls' embattled hotel and conference industry won a crucial
lifeline this week with the announcement that Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF
party will convene its annual general congress.

The congress of December 13 to 16 will see over 700 delegates book into
local hotels, spending an estimated R4,6 million just on accommodation in
the holiday town.

The four-day boom will help struggling Victoria Falls hotels and support
industries offset losses from a crippling two-year recession sparked by
Zimbabwe's contentious land reform programme and resulting political and
economic turmoil.

The recession has seen a 12% drop in international tourist numbers to
Zimbabwe, and resulting 40% drop in hotel occupancy rates.

Victoria Falls Publicity Association spokesman Tariro Samkange said the
congress represented the first major ZANU-PF function in the town since
independence in 1980, and appeared to be an attempt to bring relief to the
struggling tourism industry.

The congress will be addressed by 77-year-old Zimbabwean president Robert
Mugabe, who will seek endorsement for his 2002 presidential re-election
bid. - African Eye News Service

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Mugabe Would Love Channel Vision

Mail & Guardian (Johannesburg)

December 7, 2001
Posted to the web December 6, 2001

Robert Kirby

Over the last six months or so, SABC television's current affairs programmes
have been showing encouraging signs of independent thought. This perception
was smashed into dust last Sunday when on SABC2's Newsmaker programme we had
to grit our teeth and put up with 15 minutes of Mr McCaps Motimele, the
Unisa senior something-or-other who, according to charges, has been emptying
hefty sums of the university's cash into his own and other pockets. Motimele
came across as self-righteous and pompous, the embodiment of every tin-pot
bureaucrat suddenly hoisted into a position of power.

All of which guaranteed he got the most comfortable and relaxing ride Vuyo
Mbuli could give him. He began by licking diligently at Motimele's academic
background, allowing his guest to wallow lengthily in his inflated opinion
of himself and his career. When it came to questioning Motimele about the
bizarre goings-on at Unisa, Mbuli let Motimele get away with some outrageous
evasions, some truly Orwelllian doublespeak. As to the charges of gross
sexual harassment against Motimele - going back all of two years and as yet
unresolved - Mbuli let his valued guest flick away the questions as being of
no substance and, oh, yes, racist to boot. It was a disgraceful interview
and showed a gutless SABC in yet another display of shameless political
sycophancy. And where was the great Kader Asmal? Nowhere to be seen. Robert
Mugabe would have loved this one.

Next up was Professor Jerry Coovadia, who, despite Mbuli's sterling efforts
at putting across the official line, should be credited with having given
the clearest and most unequivocal interview on the subject of the use of the
drug nevirapine in helping to inhibit mother-to-baby transmission of HIV.
How refreshing to hear someone so articulate, so unshackled in his thinking.
Here was none of the free-range bullshit that is the pathetic currency of
the government Department of Health. As Coovadia said, the single dose of
nevirapine given to mother and baby is about as toxic as a Panado. Yet South
Africa boasts a central government health minister saying that this
treatment can't be safely administered because there might be some effect on
the baby 20 years hence.

We all know what happens when the same baby does not get the nevirapine.
Freed from the peril of nevirapine's "toxic side-effects" the baby is left
to die a terrible suffocating death - usually within 18 months. This
newspaper has described the AfricanNational Congress government policy on
the withholding of this particular treatment as being a form of genocide,
which is exactly what it is.

For the first time I had a peep at the British series Vice, occasionally
being broadcast in the small hours. It's a curiously intense look into the
working of a small group of vice-division detectives in the London Met.
Headed by a short, short-tempered detective inspector called Pat Chappell,
the series consists of independent episodes that carry longer background
plots along with them. The subject in the first episode I saw was the
recruitment by a pimp of young girls "in care".

The casting in the series is superb, the direction and script economical and
refreshingly free of the current vogue among British television directors
where "cleverness" of production supersedes all - and usually gets in the
way of the story. For the first time in a long time I was completely
engrossed, taken along with the fury of Chappell's emotions, enraged by the
complacency of his senior officers. It is so rewarding to enjoy a script
that awards three dimensions to its villains, not the plastic stereotypes of
United States cop shows. The pimp, as hateful as he was, preying on
15-year-olds, had a history and a human side.

First-rate entertainment with one depressing blip. Towards the end of the
first story a very troubled young man tries to hang himself. He is rescued,
brought down just in time and a man holds his near-lifeless body. In panic
he cries out, "For God's sake call an ambulance."

The word "God" had been censored by M-Net. Can you believe it? Someone on
the M-Net staff, on instructions from on high, sits patiently hour after
hour, day after day, week after week, listening to soundtracks and carefully
excising what the lofty Christian guarantors of the M-Net board deem to be
blasphemies too terrible to be heard. One wonders how God has survived all
these millennia without the piety of the M-Net board to help him along.
There can be as many "motherfuckers" and "shits" and "suck my dicks" as can
be crammed in, but let one solitary "God" slip past and we sink to
perdition. What hypocrites.

It really is high time that MultiChoice/DStv kicked their final presentation
into some sort of order. Their annoying little signal blackouts are back
again and going strong - and I've got my new smart card - and what is
becoming more and more difficult to accept are the varying sound levels in
the bouquet. Surely MultiChoice can sort this out, get them all more or less
the same. BBC World sound is invariably at a far lower level than the other
news channels. You never know what to expect on others. Sometimes they blare
at you, sometimes they're almost inaudible.

Another case of you pays your money and you takes your MultiChoice.

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