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EU formally extends Zimbabwe sanctions for 1 yr

BRUSSELS (AFX) - The EU formally extended sanctions against Zimbabwe for another 12 months, including a ban on President Robert Mugabe and 71 of his associates entering EU territory.

A decision to renew the sanctions was adopted by EU finance ministers following agreement by the bloc's ambassadors last week Under EU rules, decisions by the ambassadors must be agreed at the next available ministerial meeting.

The EU has shelved an early April summit with African leaders in Lisbon, after failing to secure guarantees that Mugabe would not attend.

But France has been allowed to invite the Zimbabwean leader to a Franco-African summit in Paris on Thursday and Friday, after receiving a waiver to the visa ban in return for supporting the renewal of the sanctions.


ZIMBABWE: Mugabe sidesteps EU travel sanctions

JOHANNESBURG, 18 February (IRIN) - A European Union-sanctioned waiver allowing Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe to attend this week's Franco-African summit could undermine the credibility of further sanctions, analysts said on Tuesday.

Media reports last week said the British government backed the waiver on travel sanctions to allow Mugabe to attend the Paris summit as part of an arrangement in which France agreed not to oppose the renewal of EU sanctions slapped on Mugabe and members of his cabinet a year ago. British Prime Minister Tony Blair, however, denied that London was complicit in the deal.

The waiver came after French President Jacques Chirac sought a concession for an exemption on Mugabe, citing the need for further dialogue to resolve the country's human rights and economic crisis. He also said other African leaders threatened to boycott the 20-21 February summit unless Mugabe participated.

On Tuesday EU ambassadors were expected to officially renew sanctions for a further 12 months against Zimbabwe, including a ban on travel to EU states by the country's leadership.

The EU has also postponed indefinitely a summit with African Caribbean and Pacific countries planned for Portugal in April to sidestep the possibility of fresh controversy over another Mugabe visit to a European capital.

But analysts told IRIN that the debate that has ensued among EU members following the French invitation underscored the lack of a united policy on how to resolve the political impasse in Zimbabwe.

"The fracas between Britain and France over how the crisis in Zimbabwe should be resolved provides further evidence that there is deep fragmentation and polarisation over a united EU foreign policy. This relates not only to Zimbabwe, but extends to differing opinions over the proposed war on Iraq," a researcher at the Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies, Chris Maroleng, said.

"Moreover, France's invitation to Mugabe is not surprising. The French have always supported sustained dialogue with African regimes. Mugabe's attendance at the summit sets a disappointing precedent and further throws into question not only the credibility of further sanctions but the commitment of the West to democratic change in Zimbabwe," he added.

Mugabe's trip comes as sub-Saharan Africa's most influential nations, Nigeria and South Africa, last week urged the Commonwealth to end Zimbabwe's year-long suspension, citing progress towards resolving the country's political crisis. But Australia's Prime Minister John Howard, a member of the Commonwealth troika committee monitoring Zimbabwe, has called for Zimbabwe to be suspended for another 12 months.

The Commonwealth's decision to suspend Zimbabwe followed presidential elections in March 2002, which a Commonwealth observer team said were marred by violence and were not free or fair.

Critics say the decision by Obasanjo and Mbeki to lobby on Mugabe's behalf has thrown him an undeserved diplomatic lifeline.

"While Mbeki and Obasanjo talk about progress toward some kind of normalisation in Zimbabwe there is in fact little evidence of this. What is seriously lacking with regards to a solution in Zimbabwe is moral leadership. There is lot of pragmatism but very little in the way of genuine political will," Maroleng said.

Other analysts have suggested that behind-the-scenes efforts were underway to persuade Mugabe to moderate his policies, which could lead to a government of national unity as a way out of the country's impasse.

In an interview with the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) at the weekend, Mbeki said Pretoria's "quiet diplomacy" was bearing fruit.

"One of the matters we've raised with them [Zimbabwe] is that there have been complaints raised about ... legislation passed that has an impact on the press. That it was necessary to look at that legislation and see what was wrong with it and change it. And indeed the Zimbabweans have agreed to that," Mbeki told the SABC.

South African Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Aziz Pahad said on Tuesday: "Our critics fail to explain what 'megaphone diplomacy' has achieved. They fail or refuse to acknowledge that since the political and economic crisis started we have been tirelessly engaged in efforts to help the Zimbabweans to deal with their crisis."

Under EU sanctions, Mugabe, his wife Grace, and leading members of his ruling ZANU-PF party are barred from entering EU territory. The sanctions also include a freeze on assets they might have in the 15-nation bloc, as well as an arms embargo. The EU cited pre-election violence, human rights violations and obstacles to a free vote as reasons for the ban.

The United States, Australia, New Zealand and Canada have also imposed travel sanctions on government officials, but Mugabe has been able to attend UN summits in both Europe and the United States.


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Zimbabwean "Anti-Govt" High Court Judge Arrested - BBC

LONDON -(Dow Jones)- A Zimbabwean High Court judge, who has made several rulings defying the authorities, has been arrested for allegedly obstructing the course of justice, the BBC reports on its Web site.

Justice Benjamin Paradza - who was arrested Monday - is due to appear in court Tuesday. He is accused of trying to influence another judge in a case involving an acquaintance of his.

Police say the case is "purely criminal" - but Justice Paradza's lawyer insists it is politically motivated.

Justice Paradza last month handled the case against Harare mayor Elias Mudzuri, who had been arrested for holding a meeting without police approval. The judge said police failed to produce enough evidence and ordered the release of Mudzuri, who is a member of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

Last year, he also ordered the release of opposition supporters abducted by " war veterans" supporting President Robert Mugabe.

Justice Paradza - a veteran of Zimbabwe's war of independence himself - also struck down eviction notices against white farmers.

His lawyer said the judge felt he was being punished for standing up to the authorities. "Some people have expressed their disappointment that he, as a war veteran appointed to the bench recently, was embarrassing the government with his judgments - particularly the Mudzuri one," the lawyer said.

But the police deny the charges are political. "This is a purely criminal case we are investigating," Assistant Police Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijana said. Bvudzijana gave no details on how the charges arose.

Human rights activists have accused President Mugabe's government of undermining the rule of law and intimidating judges.

Last September, a white retired High Court judge, Feargus Blackie, was arrested and charged with obstructing justice. Earlier, Justice Blackie had sentenced a cabinet minister to three months in jail for contempt of court.

There have been tensions between the government and the judiciary ever since judges ordered police to remove militants occupying white-owned farms in the run-up to the 2000 parliamentary elections.

Several Zimbabwean judges - including former Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay - have been forced to resign or retire early. The government says many judges have been biased against it.

BBC Web site:

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Glenys Kinnock
Glenys Kinnock
Euro MP Glenys Kinnock has called for fresh international action to end the Zimbabwe crisis.

Mrs Kinnock - wife of ex-Labour leader Neil - issued her call on the eve of President Robert Mugabe's controversial visit to Paris.

Britain has led international condemnation of Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF regime.

And Mrs Kinnock accused the Zimbabwean President of bringing the country "to its knees".

"His corrupt regime has rigged elections and his henchmen have been responsible for violence, intimidation and the torture of political opponents and civilians alike," she said.

"Terrible fiscal policies now see the country spiralling towards total meltdown, with millions facing starvation.

"The Zimbabwe debate now needs to move on from just discussion rights and wrongs, we need also to focus on how best to secure a peaceful and democratic future for Zimbabwe."

An EU travel ban on members of Zanu-PF has been lifted in order to let him attend the Franco-African summit.

The move has angered Britain, which has accused President Mugabe of using food shortages to literally starve his opponents of support.

But the ban was lifted after it appeared France would veto the whole summit package unless he was able to attend.

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Pahad hits back at Zimbabwe critics
Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Aziz Pahad today strongly criticised opponents of South Africa's stance on Zimbabwe, and rejected any suggestion of regime change by force.

Speaking during debate in the National Assembly on President Thabo Mbeki's State of the Nation address, he said once again "we have been subjected to hysterical concerns about our so-called failure to tackle the Zimbabwe issue".

The government remained convinced that the collapse of Zimbabwe would have serious implications for the whole region, especially South Africa.

"Why would we want this to happen?" he asked.

South Africa's quiet diplomacy was criticised without any credible suggestions on what "we should do more than what we are doing".

"Our critics fail to explain what 'megaphone diplomacy' has achieved," he said.

"They fail or refuse to acknowledge that since the political and economic crisis started we have been tirelessly engaged in efforts to help the Zimbabweans to deal with their crisis.

"Any honest person, not motivated by hidden agendas, must acknowledge that we have consistently, bilaterally or through SADC, raised areas of concern and sought solutions.

"The Commonwealth mandated us to engage with the Zimbabweans to tackle some of these issues."

There had been some progress. The Zimbabweans had agreed to look at some of their legislation on the media, and they would also look at legislation that had been described as anti-democratic, he said.

"The Zimbabwean government has declared that the land distribution programme is over, and admit that some mistakes were made," Pahad said.

"They have assured us that discussions are taking place with Zimbabwean farmers who lost their farms," he said.

"There are still areas of concern that are being discussed and hopefully solutions will be found.

"Let me once again categorically state that we reject any suggestion of regime change by force. Also, no Zimbabwean has called for sanctions and so this is not an option. We must accept that Zimbabwe is not the 10th province of South Africa," he said.

"Sadly, the DA (Democratic Alliance) is trying to whip up minority fears by suggesting that what is happening in Zimbabwe will happen in South Africa. This is a very dangerous game, and I urge them not to persist with it.

"In the interest of Zimbabwe and the region, let us constructively assist all Zimbabweans to jointly find a solution," Pahad said.

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Obasanjo is blatantly misinformed
Daily News

2/18/2003 7:05:15 AM (GMT +2)

By A Special Correspondent
President Olusegun Obasanjo’s letter to John Howard concerning the renewing of the Commonwealth sanctions on Zimbabwe is blatantly misinformed in relation to the reality in Zimbabwe. He largely ignores the major problems in Zimbabwe, and paints a favourable picture of President Mugabe and his government.
In so doing he overlooks the root of the crisis. A critique is offered here of how he misrepresents the land issue, the people of Zimbabwe and the legal system.

In his letter to Howard, published in The Herald on the 12 February, President Obasanjo only briefly mentions the major reason for the formation of the troika: the discussion of the Commonwealth report on the elections in Zimbabwe. We all know that the main point in that report was the fact that the elections were not free and fair.

The matter of the democratic right of the people of Zimbabwe seems to have been
ignored or forgotten and the main purpose of President Obasanjo’s visit to southern Africa seems to have been to try to offer relief to the illegitimate regime in Zimbabwe.
President Obasanjo cleverly shifts the main emphasis from the unfairly elected government, to the land issue. The land issue is a symptom of the problem and not the cause of it.

Treating and analysing the symptoms will not help at all if we keep ignoring the main problem.

The real problem in Zimbabwe is not the land issue, or the famine, or the breakdown of law and order, or the total meltdown of the economy. The problem is the regime that is causing these disasters.

We have to reduce the influence of the cancer on the rest of the body by restricting the freedom of the cancer. Reduce the regime’s negative influence, until it is non-existent and only then will the lives of 11 million innocent people return to normal.

There are various statements that we need to take issue with in President Obasanjo’s letter.

A large part of the letter dwells on the land issue in Zimbabwe. President Obasanjo states, “The issue of land is at the core of the current crisis in Zimbabwe”. He also states that land acquisition “has substantially ended since 31 August 2002” and that “the Government of Zimbabwe has agreed to pay compensation for any
improvements on the land”.

The facts on the ground are very different. Over 95% of all resettled land has not been bought or paid for and in a large number of cases no legal channels have been followed to
acquire that land. The government has had little or no regard to its stated criteria for acquiring land and farmers and farm workers are still being evicted illegally.

Farms continue to be listed almost on a weekly basis; compensation is not being made available. The core of the issue in Zimbabwe is not land. The core of the issue involves whether there is good governance or not.

President Obasanjo appears pleased that the Commercial Farmers’ Union has been in
dialogue with the government of Zimbabwe and states that “the Government has again reiterated to these farmers its readiness and preparedness to provide land to anyone that wishes to continue farming and has so applied”. It seems incredible that a bona fide farmer with his own land should have to apply for land.

The root cause of this goes a lot deeper. The Zimbabwe government wishes to control all land so that it can control all people on that land. Is this a principle that the Commonwealth supports? Will the complete abolition of the right to own property contribute to development, food security and poverty alleviation?

It is clear that President Obasanjo spent very little time in Zimbabwe and spoke to very few people. He states “I am informed that of the estimated 400 000 people affected, some have been resettled while many others have been re-employed by the end of March 2003 the problem of displaced former foreign workers will no longer be an issue”. It is relevant to note that approximately 20% of Zimbabwe’s population was employed or living on the commercial farms.

Very few of these people have now got jobs and tens of thousands of them have been displaced from their homes and have no food. Due to many of the farms being no-go areas the fate of many of these people is unknown.

Starvation though, something previously unknown in Zimbabwe, is rife and many
innocent people are beginning to die. President Obasanjo states that “all those found guilty of malpractices have been brought to book” according to President Mugabe.

Obasanjo agrees that corruption exists but lacks insight into the way government has abused the whole legal system. Witness the increasing police brutality, turning a blind eye to corruption and theft, change in the country’s laws and adopting those that are not constitutional and that discriminate against minority groups, targeting of judges by police, intimidation until they resign and are replaced by political cronies. All this has put great strain on the legal system in Zimbabwe.

Obasanjo makes the observation that we should seek active participation, investment and support from foreign investors. If the sound principles outlined in the New Partnership for Africa’s Development were employed in Zimbabwe then this would be one of the benefits and Africa would benefit.

President Obasanjo concludes “the time is now auspicious to lift the stand on Zimbabwe with regard to a suspension from the Commonwealth Council”. The question arises what has Zimbabwe done to materially demonstrate its commitment to the Commonwealth principles of good governance?

To individual Zimbabweans on the ground, the situation continues to deteriorate at an alarming rate. Until the rule of law is restored, the freedom of speech is allowed, proper economic policies are pursued and independent, internationally constituted bodies are put in place to monitor these developments, President Obasanjo’s credibility as an honest broker in the Zimbabwe crisis remains seriously in question.
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JAG blasts Obasanjo’s assertion
Daily News

2/18/2003 6:57:07 AM (GMT +2)

Farming Reporter
Justice for Agriculture (JAG)’s legal committee has roundly criticised Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo’s stance on the situation in Zimbabwe.
In a communique issued last Thursday, JAG said Obasanjo’s letter to Australian Prime Minister John Howard concerning the renewing of the Commonwealth sanctions on Zimbabwe was blatantly misinformed in relation to the reality in Zimbabwe.

JAG said Obasanjo was largely ignoring the major problems in Zimbabwe, and painted a favourable picture of President Mugabe and his government.
“In so doing he overlooks the root of the crisis,” JAG said.

In his letter to Howard, published in The Herald on 12 February, Obasanjo only briefly mentions the major reason for the formation of the troika.

Turning to the Commonwealth report on the presidential poll, JAG said: “We all know that the main point in that report was the fact that the elections were not free and fair. The matter of the democratic right of the people of Zimbabwe seems to have been ignored or forgotten and the main purpose of President Obasanjo’s visit to Southern Africa seems to have been to try and offer relief to the illegitimate regime in Zimbabwe. President Obasanjo cleverly shifts the main emphasis from the unfairly elected government, to the land issue.”

The land issue was a symptom of the problem and not the cause of it. Treating and analysing the symptoms would not help at all if the main problem was ignored, said JAG.
“The real problem in Zimbabwe is not the land issue, or the famine, or the breakdown of law and order, or the total meltdown of the economy. The problem is the regime that is causing these disasters.

“We have to reduce the influence of the cancer on the rest of the body by restricting the freedom of the cancer. Reduce the regime’s negative influence until it is non-
existent and only then will the lives of 11 million innocent people return to normal,” the lobby group said.

JAG said there were various statements that they needed to take issue with in Obasanjo’s letter.
“The majority of the letter dwells on the land issue in Zimbabwe. President Obasanjo states, ‘The issue of land is at the core of the current crisis in Zimbabwe’. He also states that ‘land acquisition has substantially ended since 31 August 2002’ and that ‘the government of Zimbabwe has agreed to pay compensation for any improvements on the land’.”

The facts on the ground were very different. Over 95 percent of all resettled land has not been bought or paid for and in a large amount of cases no legal channels have been followed to acquire that land. The government has had little or no regard to its stated criteria for acquiring land and farmers and farm workers were still being evicted illegally.
Farms continue to be listed almost on a weekly basis; compensation was not being made available.

JAG said: “The core of the issue in Zimbabwe is not land. The core of the issue involves whether there is good governance or not.”

Obasanjo appears pleased that the Commercial Farmers’ Union has been in dialogue with the government and states that “the government has again reiterated to these farmers its readiness and preparedness to provide land to anyone that wishes to continue farming and has so applied”.

It seemed incredible that a bona fide farmer with his own land should have to apply for land. The root cause of this was a lot deeper.

JAG said: “The government wishes to control all land so that it can control all people on that land. Is this a principle that the Commonwealth supports? Will the complete abolition of the right to own property contribute to development and food security and poverty alleviation?”

It was clear that Obasanjo spent very little time in Zimbabwe and spoke to very few people. Obasanjo states: “I am informed that of the estimated 400 000 people affected, some have been resettled while many others have been re-employed by the end of March 2003 the problem of displaced former foreign workers will no longer be an issue.”

It was relevant to note that approximately 20 percent of Zimbabwe’s population was employed or living on the commercial farms. Very few of these people had jobs and tens of thousands had been displaced from their homes and had got no food. As most farms were no-go areas the fate of many of these people was unknown.

“Starvation though, something previously unknown in Zimbabwe, is rife and many innocent people are beginning to die.”

Obasanjo states that “all those found guilty of malpractices have been brought to book”, according to Mugabe. Obasanjo agreed that corruption existed but lacked insight into the way government had abused the whole legal system:

Police brutality, turning a blind eye to corruption and theft, change in the country’s laws that were not constitutional and that discriminated against minority groups was common. Targeting of judges by police intimidation until they resigned and were replaced by political cronies was also rife.

“All this has put great strain on the legal system in Zimbabwe,” JAG said.
Obasanjo observed that the country should seek active participation, investment and support from foreign investors. If the sound principles outlined in the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad) were employed in Zimbabwe then this would be one of the benefits and Africa as a whole would benefit.

Obasanjo concludes: “The time is now auspicious to lift the stand on Zimbabwe with regard to a suspension from the Commonwealth Council.”

The question being asked was: had Zimbabwe done enough to materially demonstrate its commitment to the Commonwealth principles of good governance?

To individual Zimbabweans on the ground the situation continued to deteriorate in an alarming manner. Until the rule of law was restored, freedom of speech was allowed, proper economic policies pursued and independent internationally constituted bodies were put in place to monitor these developments, Obasanjo’s credibility remained seriously in question, JAG said.
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LEADER PAGE Tuesday   18  , February
  Daily News
Who will be controlling our economy when crisis is over?

2/18/2003 7:03:43 AM (GMT +2)

By Cathy Buckle
When I was a little girl growing up and desperate for any excuse not to go to school, my parents would tell me that I could only stay at home if it snowed.
In Zimbabwe, day after day throughout winter I looked up at the skies for snow but it never came.

I wish I was still a little girl looking for snow because there is no shortage of it in Zimbabwe at the moment and I think I’d be off school for weeks on end.

Our government is doing the biggest snow job of their 22 and a-half-year career. I’m not sure who they are fooling apart from themselves.

By forbidding people from forming queues outside shops, bakeries and petrol stations they assume they are creating the impression to foreigners that everything is absolutely fine in Zimbabwe.

This snow job might even work except all foreigners have an annoying tendency of doing a few similar things.

They all go into supermarkets to look at the quality and prices of our goods.
They all go to hotels and bars and talk to waiters and barmen and they all get into taxis and talk to their drivers.

By just doing those three things, any visitor to Zimbabwe can see for themselves just exactly how dire our situation has become.

The next fall of snow came with the repeated assurances that Zimbabwe was a peaceful country in which to play cricket.

A short walk by Henry Olonga and Andy Flower to the Press box at the opening cricket match against Namibia last week melted the snow immediately.

These two brave men, wearing black armbands, put paid to all the propaganda being incessantly spewed out about the situation in Zimbabwe.

Olonga and Flower said they were “mourning the death of democracy in Zimbabwe” and their short statement told of oppression, torture, terror and starvation in the country. Zimbabwe salutes Henry Olonga and Andy Flower and hopes that indeed their “small act” will restore sanity and dignity to Zimbabwe. Perhaps their huge courage will also inspire others to finally speak out.

Another deep fall of snow came last Thursday when plans for Nuanetsi were

Apparently the Zimbabwe government put out an appeal for tender to grow maize on 100 000 hectares of farm land in Nuanetsi.

Why on earth the government is putting Zimbabwe’s crop growing out to tender in China is utterly beyond belief.

What exactly do Chinese farmers know about Zimbabwe’s climate?
Do they know about bush fires and drought, about baboons and armyworms, about quelea birds who raid from above or monkeys who steal from below?

Whilst all these things should be cause for great concern among Zimbabweans, the most worrying thing of all is the estimated yield being advertised by the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC).

Apparently from 100 000 hectares of land the Chinese farmers will produce 2,1 million tonnes of maize. (ZBC TV news 13 February 2003)
Unless my maths is wrong because I missed so much school due to too many snowstorms in the 70s, this means a minimum yield of 20 tonnes per hectare.

If I am not mistaken the highest yield of maize per hectare ever recorded in Zimbabwe is just under 12 tonnes.

ZBC would have us believe that on this one piece of land in Nuanetsi the Chinese will produce enough maize for the entire country.

There is an important question that all Zimbabwean’s should now be asking themselves especially the war veterans who supposedly started this Third Chimurenga.
When Zimbabwe’s crisis is over who exactly will be dominating our economy?

It won’t be those nasty white Zimbabwean farmers any more it will be Libyans and Chinese and probably Indonesians too.

The biggest snow job of all, however, came from Zimbabwe’s two partners in crime, Presidents Obasanjo and Mbeki.

As always brave Mbeki kept his mouth very tightly shut when it came to doing the right thing about the renewal of Zimbabwe’s suspension from the councils of the Commonwealth.

His Nigerian counterpart, who we all thought was a man of high principle, was left to do the dirty work.

Clearly not even prepared to try to defend their decision at a meeting of the troika, Obasanjo said he and Mbeki would not support a renewal of Zimbabwe’s Commonwealth suspension.

Shame on you both.

I wonder if it is snowing in Nigeria? In Other News:

Ham-fisted handling of citizens could be costly
Who will be controlling our economy when crisis is over?
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Key witness questioned in Zimbabwe treason trial
February 18, 2003, 07:30
The key witness in the treason trial of Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe's opposition leader, was questioned in court yesterday about the circumstances which led to the recording of meetings where a plot to kill President Robert Mugabe was allegedly hatched.

Ari Ben Manashe, a former Israeli intelligence agent, said his business partner Alexander Legault made the decision to record two meetings, one in London and another in Montreal, with top opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leaders.

During cross examination, Ben Manashe was asked whether the motive behind the recordings was to use the contents of the tapes as evidence against the accused in court. He replied that "it was to be used to substantiate what was said and to make sure that what I heard was accurate".

Tsvangirai and two other senior MDC officials have been charged with treason for allegedly plotting to assassinate Mugabe. They deny the charges which carry the death penalty on conviction.

The defence is trying to prove that Ben Manashe was used by the Zimbabwean authorities to frame Tsvangirai to discredit him ahead of the March 2002 presidential polls. The State's case hinges on a poorly recorded video of a meeting Ben Manashe held with Tsvangirai in late 2001, at which the opposition leader allegedly requested the "elimination" of Mugabe.
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Spoornet to fast-track delivery of food to Zimbabwe
February 18, 2003, 07:15
South African rail utility Spoornet, says it will invest R32, 2 million to refurbish its wagons. This is to enable the company to fast track the delivery of food to neighbouring Zimbabwe.

Spoornet expects this refurbishment exercise, to take approximately six months. It says the refurbished fleet, will help it double the amount of grain it transports between East London, and Zimbabwe every week.

The company presently exports 19 500 tonnes of grain to Zimbabwe weekly. Half of Zimbabwe's 14 million people face food shortages after last year's poor harvest and is also reeling from its worst economic and political crisis, since independence in 1980.
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UK Telegraph

I will arrest Robert Mugabe when he arrives in Paris
By Peter Tatchell
(Filed: 18/02/2003)

The French government plans to give Robert Mugabe VIP treatment when he attends this week's Franco-African summit in Paris. While millions of Zimbabweans starve, Mugabe will be wined and dined by Jacques Chirac at the Elysée Palace.

Tony Blair has agreed to this blood-stained banquet as part of a trade-off to win French support for the renewal of the EU travel ban on Mugabe and his top officials. He is prepared to see the ban violated in order to renew it. Where is the sense or morality in that?

Instead of rolling out the red carpet for the Zimbabwean dictator, M Chirac should enforce France's anti-torture law and have Mugabe arrested. But he won't. That is why, early next week, I will go to a Paris magistrate and apply for an arrest warrant. My aim is simple. I want the French government to uphold its own laws against torture.

This won't be the first time I've attempted to arrest Mugabe. Prior to the recent EU travel ban, he could visit Britain whenever he liked. Even after the massacre of 20,000 people in Matabeleland during the 1980s, neither Conservative nor Labour governments made any attempt to bar him.

Mugabe only stopped coming to Britain after four of us from the gay rights group OutRage! ambushed his motorcade en route to Harrods in 1999. Opening the door of his limousine, I seized him and placed him under citizen's arrest on charges of torture.

We summoned the police and handed him over, together with affidavits from Zimbabwe torture victims. But the police let Mugabe go and arrested us instead. The Attorney-General and Metropolitan Police Commissioner have never explained why they freed this torturing tyrant and allowed him to return to Zimbabwe to continue his reign of murder and mayhem.

Undeterred, two years later in Brussels, I made another attempted citizen's arrest, swooping on the president as he left the Hilton Hotel. This time I was beaten unconscious by Mugabe's bodyguards, in full view of the Belgian police and secret service.

My arrest attempts were a response to government indifference and inaction. Despite signing the UN Convention Against Torture 1984, world leaders are doing nothing to enforce it. That is why I tried to make a citizen's arrest. My aim was to bring a criminal to justice.

Enforcing the law against torture shouldn't be left to me. The governments of Britain, France and the rest of the world should be issuing warrants for Mugabe's arrest and extradition. He should be put on trial, like Slobodan Milosevic. I hope a Paris magistrate will agree and grant me a warrant.

The UN Convention Against Torture has been incorporated into French law since 1987. Article 1 criminalises not only the instigation or perpetration of torture, but also "consent or acquiescence". Article 4 says this law applies to "any person", giving no exemptions to heads of state.

In Zimbabwe, the use of torture by the police, army and the intelligence services is routine and systemic. It is inconceivable that Mugabe is unaware of what is going on. He has not stopped it. Under French law, that makes him guilty of complicity with torture.

I have affidavits from two well-documented torture victims, the Harare journalists Ray Choto and the late Mark Chavunduka. According to Amnesty International: "Military interrogators beat both men all over their bodies with fists, wooden planks and rubber sticks, particularly on the soles of their feet, and gave them electric shocks all over the body, including the genitals."

Mr Choto's affidavit says his interrogators told him that "the president had signed my death warrant and that my torturers were to 'go ahead' ". Mugabe later refused to condemn the men's torture. "I will not condemn my army for having done that. They can do worse things than that," Mugabe told Voice of America radio.

In response to four supreme court judges who wrote to him expressing disquiet about the case, the president denounced their "impudence" and called on them to resign.

Another prominent torture victim is Tom Spicer, 18, who was tortured last year at Harare Central police station by Mugabe's secret police, the CIO. In his affidavit, Mr Spicer recalls: "I was punched, kicked in the stomach, beaten with objects, subjected to repeated electrical shocks.

"My body convulsed so violently that the handcuffs on my wrists tightened causing my wrists to swell out of all proportion to their normal size. I was also told categorically that those present had presidential powers and that whatever methods they used or whatever they did to me would not result in them having to account for their actions."

Reports from the Zimbabwean human rights monitors - the Amani Trust and the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace - confirms that these are not isolated cases. The US government Institute of Peace corroborates that torture is "rampant" and "systematic". What more evidence do Mr Blair and M Chirac need? The legal and moral case for Mugabe's arrest is overwhelming.

Unlike Labour's feeble, slap-on-the-wrist sanctions, the issuing of an arrest warrant would be effective and dramatic. It would create real anxiety for Mugabe; haunting him with the nightmare scenario of ending up behind bars like Milosevic.

If the French government refuses to arrest Mugabe, I will seek a warrant from a Paris magistrate for his arrest under France's anti-torture law. Legal precedent is on my side. The Nuremberg Tribunal on Nazi war crimes established the principle that in cases of crimes against humanity, such as torture, nobody is above the law.

This principle is reiterated in Article 27 of the UN Rome Statute 1998, which created the International Criminal Court. Ratified by France, it expressly states there is no immunity for heads of state.

Putting this principle into practice, Milosevic was indicted for crimes against humanity in 1999, while he was the serving head of state of Yugoslavia. The indictment of the Yugoslav leader sets a contemporary precedent for the arrest of the Zimbabwean president. Milosevic is on trial. Why not Robert Mugabe?

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Daily News

NATIONAL NEWS Tuesday   18  , February
Moyo silent on media laws

2/18/2003 6:43:11 AM (GMT +2)

By Brian Mangwende Chief Reporter
Jonathan Moyo yesterday refused to comment on weekend reports that President Thabo Mbeki had said Zimbabwe would change its tough media laws following talks with South Africa and Nigeria.
But his boss in the ruling Zanu PF politburo, Nathan Shamuyarira, was surprised at Moyo’s refusal to comment.

The Zanu PF secretary for information and publicity said Moyo should comment “since he is the one who piloted the media law”.

Told that Moyo was not forthcoming on this and other issues, Shamuyarira asked: “Why? He should comment.”

But Moyo, the Minister of State for Information and Publicity in the President’s Office, would not comment on reports that Mbeki said on Sunday Zimbabwe had agreed its media laws, which critics say are aimed at muzzling the free Press, needed to be changed. South Africa has been criticised for its soft approach to the Zimbabwe crisis characterised by gross human rights abuse in the face of a collapsing economy and chronic food shortages.

In an interview with the South African Broadcasting Corporation, Mbeki said Pretoria’s behind-the-scenes talks, or so-called “quiet diplomacy”, were bearing fruit.

Mbeki said: “Over all this long period . . . we’ve raised concerns about a whole variety of matters with Zimbabwe.

“One of the matters we’ve raised with them is that there have been complaints raised about . . . legislation passed that has an impact on the Press. That it was necessary to look at that legislation and see what was wrong with it and change it. And indeed the Zimbabweans have agreed to that.”

Efforts to get comment from Moyo were fruitless. His secretary said: “The minister has instructed me to tell you that he doesn’t speak to The Daily News until they change their way of reporting. There is nothing I can do about it. I am sorry.”

Moyo crafted the draconian Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA). The law makes it an offence to publish a “false story”, compels journalists to apply for licences and bars foreigners from working permanently in the country as reporters. Several journalists have been detained under AIPPA.

Mbeki said South Africa had discussed with Zimbabwe legislation that was “limiting democratic freedoms . . . and indeed they are looking at that”.

Mbeki’s comments echoed those of Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who said in a recent letter to Australian Prime Minister John Howard that Zimbabwe was making “genuine efforts to respond to . . . concerns” about the media laws.

A deep rift has opened in the Commonwealth over Zimbabwe, with Mbeki and Obasanjo who together with Howard form a Commonwealth “troika” mandated to look at what course of action to take on Harare pushing to lift sanctions that were imposed on the country last year.

Zimbabwe was suspended from the Commonwealth last year following President Mugabe’s disputed re-election. The embargo expires on 19 March.

Mugabe’s domestic critics have accused South Africa and Nigeria of “sanitising” the Zimbabwean situation, pointing out that Mugabe had not disbanded pro-government militias blamed for political violence.
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NATIONAL NEWS Tuesday   18  , February
Daily News

Resettled farmers cry foul over food

2/18/2003 6:42:34 AM (GMT +2)

By Precious Shumba
THE Farm Community Trust of Zimbabwe (FCTZ) has been criticised by resettled farmers across Mashonaland provinces for allegedly denying them access to food aid they are distributing to displaced farm workers.
The settlers also accused the FTCZ of causing divisions among people living on the farms.

This has led to friction between the former commercial farm workers and the new settlers who now view each other as enemies.

The FCTZ has maintained that its mandate was to provide food only to former farm workers who lost their jobs following the violent farm invasions.

Godfrey Magaramombe, the organisation’s director, said they were only mandated to deal with vulnerable former workers but were now realising the need to refocus their attention to cover the new settlers.

He said they wanted everyone to benefit but that was impossible due to the limited nature of resources at their disposal.

According to oral evidence given to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Service Labour and Social Welfare, chaired by Webster Shamu, the Chegutu MP, starvation was worsening on the farms.

Shamu said the FCTZ created an infrastructure which was only geared to look after former farm workers.

“We feel that the situation was not correct,” he said “As has come out of the fact-finding mission, they need to refocus their attention to include everyone living on the farms.

Lameck Madziya, 36, a settler at Handlecross Farm told the committee that the FCTZ needed to change its approach to the distribution of food on the farms.
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LEADER PAGE Tuesday   18  , February
  Daily News

Ham-fisted handling of citizens could be costly

2/18/2003 7:03:05 AM (GMT +2)

The decision by the High Court, last week, to bar the MDC from holding a rally at White City Stadium in Bulawayo has raised many eyebrows.
The rally was to be addressed by the party leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, his deputy, Gibson Sibanda, and the secretary-general, Welshman Ncube.

The police, hiding behind the repressive and controversial Public Order and Security Act (POSA), denied the opposition party permission to hold the rally.

The police cited lack of adequate manpower because of the Cricket World Cup matches being played in the city.

The MDC is not the only recent victim of POSA. During the last two months, the Bulawayo Agenda, a community-based organisation, has been barred from holding meetings in the City Hall because the police said they feared the meetings would lead to a breakdown of law and order.

How the police arrived at that conclusion boggles the mind.
But what seems to be emerging from all this needless fuss by the police is that they are afraid of something, an unknown creature bent on destabilising the government.

This is very similar to the Shona saying, Kuvhunduka chati kwata, hunge une katurike. Translated literally, it means people with something to hide are easily unsettled, even by the slightest sound.

Fear is by its very nature an undesirable trait, more so if experienced by those running a country. For if they are afraid, they will not be capable of discharging their duties diligently and effectively.

Their eyes are always glancing over their shoulder, wondering if someone is going to strike at them. They will lose focus and concentrate on their own safety. They see
everyone as a potential enemy and they will trust no one, seeing enemies under every bed and bush.

In so doing, they will spend time and resources fortifying their home. Adolf Hitler and the Nazis quickly come to mind. Despite his public macho image, Hitler was so insecure he even had someone taste his food before eating it himself, in case it was poisoned.
Nearer home, the Young Pioneers of Kamuzu Banda of Malawi and our home-grown Green Bombers are examples of how leaders lose focus and concentrate on their own personal security.

Hitler and his ilk are the leaders often described as the New Unhappy Lords who put up a show of happiness in public, but withdraw into closets of unhappiness and fear when they are out of the public eye. What are they afraid of, if they are good leaders?

Ever since POSA became law, the police have been given a free hand to do as they please. They have, so it would seem, been empowered to arrest people on the most spurious excuses. The arrests include members of political parties such as the MDC and organisations such as the National Constitutional Assembly, which have been agitating for change through legal means.

POSA is now being used willy-nilly to suppress views that are critical of or different from those of the government.

This is a flagrant abuse of authority which curtails people’s constitutional rights.

Only last week, the same law was used when Tendai Biti, the Member of Parliament for Harare East, and Paul Madzore, the MP for Glen View (both MDC) and 12 other party supporters were detained overnight by the police for holding a political rally in Mabvuku.

They were later released without being charged.

This is one of many examples where the rule of law is being trampled upon with impunity, all under the obnoxious piece of legislation called POSA.
There may be a high price to be paid for this ham-fisted handling of innocent citizens trying to assert their inalienable democratic rights.
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NATIONAL NEWS Tuesday   18  , February
  Daily News

Judge arrested

2/18/2003 7:04:26 AM (GMT +2)

By Pedzisai Ruhanya Deputy News Editor
IN an unprecedented move, the police yesterday arrested a High Court judge, Justice Benjamin Paradza, in his chambers at the High Court building along Samora Machel Avenue over allegations that he attempted to obstruct the course of justice.
His lawyer, Jonathan Samkange of Byron Venturas, said the judge was being held at Borrowdale Police Station. He said he was last night making frantic efforts to have the judge released.

This is the first time in Zimbabwe’s legal history that a sitting judge has been arrested, some senior Harare lawyers pointed out yesterday.

Samkange said Paradza was arrested yesterday morning at the High Court as he was preparing to preside over a case.

He said that the State is alleging that Paradza called Justice Misheck Cheda at the Bulawayo High Court to inquire on the passport of a French citizen which was being held by the court as part of his bail conditions.

It is alleged that Paradza interfered with the course of justice.
Samkange said: “The judge had an urgent court application before his arrest. He was supposed to preside over a case, but instead he got arrested. This is very sad.”

He said that assuming that Paradza attempted to interfere with Cheda’s work, then the appropriate move was to raise the matter with Judge President Paddington Garwe and Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku and not to arrest a sitting judge.

Sternford Moyo, the president of the Law Society of Zimbabwe, yesterday condemned the arrest “and the liberal use of powers of arrest”.

Moyo said: “Except for very serious criminal conduct where there is a danger that the interests of justice may be prejudiced by the judge absconding or interfering with investigations, charges levelled against judges should be dealt with in terms of the Constitution, which requires that an inquiry takes place to establish whether or not the allegations of misconduct are well found.”

He said the liberal use of powers of arrest and resort to the rules of the Criminal Evidence and Procedures Act when proceeding against a serving judge had an intimidatory effect on other judges.

“Accordingly, it impacts negatively on judicial independence and the interests of justice.”
Last month, Paradza ordered the police in Harare to bring Engineer Elias Mudzuri, the Executive Mayor of Harare, to court or release him together with 20 others after they had arrested him while holding a consultative meeting with the residents of Mabvuku.
Mudzuri had been arrested under the draconian Public Order and Security Act on
allegations of holding an illegal public meeting. He was later released without being charged.

The government was not happy with Paradza’s ruling.
Wayne Bvudzijena, the police spokesperson, told The Herald, the State-controlled daily, that Mudzuri still had a case to answer and queried why he had been ordered released by the judge.

Bvudzijena said then: “We don’t know why the High Court judge dismissed the case.”
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BUSINESS Tuesday   18  , February
  Daily News

Domestic debt hits $370 billion

2/18/2003 6:56:25 AM (GMT +2)

By Colleen Gwari Business Reporter
The country’s domestic debt has risen to about $370 billion in the past eight years.
The figure represented a twenty-two fold rise, with fiscal indiscipline on the part of the ruling Zanu PF government and dwindling donor support mainly to blame.

In its weekly economic highlights, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) said: “Since 1995, the stock of domestic debt has risen twenty two-fold from $24,5 billion to $369,2 billion by end January 2003.”

Economic analysts said government’s failure to control expenditure had often seen the central authority borrowing funds to finance its operations.

The situation has worsened over the past three years following the withdrawal of international donor support.

Multilateral financial organisations led by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank discontinued support to the Zimbabwe government to register their discontent with the ruling party’s policies.

As a result government has had to borrow from the domestic market to finance its programmes.

In a majority of cases, recurrent expenditure went towards civil servants’ salaries thereby consuming a big chunk of the cake.

Efforts by civil society and business to force government to cut expenditure to a level commensurate with revenue, had failed.

The Defence Ministry has continued to get a higher allocation than Health when the country is enjoying relative peace.

The country’s health delivery system has consequently declined to appalling levels with major hospitals such as Harare Central and Parirenyatwa running without essential drugs.
Herbert Murerwa Finance and Economic Development Minister, in his budget speech allocated the Ministry of Defence a staggering $76 billion ahead of the Health and Child Welfare Ministry’s $73 billion.

Murerwa justified the allocation by saying that Zimbabwe’s sovereignty was threatened and the army needed to be recapitalised.

The RBZ said the country’s failure to retire past debt and the continuous mismatch between fiscal revenue and expenditure resulted in a massive build-up in domestic debt.
A surge in inflation from below 20 percent in 1996 to 200 percent by year end, resulted in a shift in the composition of the domestic debt, from longer-dated stocks, to costly short-term treasury bills.

Of concern has been the impact of debt burden on macro-economic stability.
The RBZ said: “Interest on debt absorbs a significant proportion of budgetary resources, thus depriving the economy of much-needed developmental capital.”

The perpetual accumulation of new debt and rolling over of past debt has put the country into a debt trap.
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Who is Dr. Shire? To all information medias
Who is this man Dr. Shire whose name is the same as the one who was allegedly in charge of handling the dissident situation in Matabeleland in the early 80's?
He is referred to as a Zimbabwean analyst and  a ZANUPF supporter (most definitely) and is yet another apologist for the government. He resides in London and is obviously not familiar with what is happening on the ground in Zimbabwe. He espouses pure theory and support for the ruling party and accuses, in a general manner, any journalist who reports the truth as liars. And yet, Sky News, Hard Talk, Network Africa and BBC World Today have given so much air-time to this individual it is unbelievable. Their interviewers seem unable to control his dominating views against more logical arguments and personal experience. 
In an interview on BBC last Saturday morning, MDC foreign affairs shadow minister Mzila Ndlovu finally managed to get an answer across to the common "we mustn't get involved" statement that Zimbabweans "must sort out their own problems"  How can Zimbabweans achieve this when no elections are perceived by the majority to be free and fair and generally rigged, basic freedoms of movement and association are forbidden, meetings of any kind are banned, the State media gives no TV or newspaper space to any opposition views and only seeks to denigrate any opposition?  Where a partisan police and security forces totally support the governing regime and quell any dissent that dares challenge those Draconian new laws Posa and the ATIPA, a police force that continually harasses and arrests opposition members on trumped up charges. Where those arrested often give testimony of the torture and beatings they receive at the hands of their captors. We must not forget, the selective starvation, intimidation by state sponsored "green bombers" of perceived opposition members, which include the rape, torture, burning of opposition houses, property etc etc................
 It is ironic that on many occasions, the victims are those arrested while the perpetrators go free! The vast majority of crimes against perceived opposition members go unpunished.
So, to Mbeki, Obasanjo and other defenders of the regime who are stating that the situation has improved and preach "Zimbabweans must sort out their own problems", please tell us how this can be achieved with out a return to the rule of law and democracy.  Are you suggesting an uprising of the people? 
The rhetoric in terms of NEPAD for the monitoring of regional countries and subsequent condemnation of policies detrimental to human rights and good governance has proven once again a farce in Africa. 
I have enclosed a few relative addresses for lobby purposes and hope you will feel inclined to drop them a line requesting more balanced dialogue and encourage interviewers to ask the question how to resolve our problems in the current circumstances and not just accept propaganda responses but to counter with a knowledge of what ordinary Zimbabweans know and face every day.
3rd Degree, etv     BBC, Kate Forbes 
BBC, Martin Turner georgina Kindra, Jaspreet
networkafrica S W Radio Africa Sky News,
The following is from Eddie Cross and highlights recent events for those who have doubts. My wife was almost detained with Eddie, but there was no room in the vehicle.

Human and Political Rights.

Yesterday a small group of women from all walks of life held a "valentinesday" walk for women's rights and against violence. After 30 minutes or so -having a lot of fun, handing out flowers to passers by, they were confronted by police. After the initial shock subsided they decided they would not beintimidated and continued with their walk. The riot police then moved in and
broke up the walk with force and took 15 women and two men into custody - mywife of 40 years, Jeanette, amongst them.

They were manhandled into police vehicles and taken to the main policestation where they were detained overnight in the cells - 22 women in onecell built for 4 or 5 prisoners. Most of the women spent the night standingor trying to sleep tightly packed on the floor. The toilet was a hole in thefloor without the means to be flushed and the only ventilation was a small hole in the door. It was hot and airless in the cell and pretty rough for a grandmother who had never had any experience of this sort of thing in her life. The one man arrested with them, a Catholic priest, was severely and roughly handled and knocked to the ground at one point during the incident.

Prison breakfast was some beans on a plate - one plate for a cell. No toiletries were allowed and they were forced to remove their shoes and any other extraneous clothing except the absolute basics. They were insulted and verbally abused. During the night they observed one prisoner (a man) being severely beaten with batons before being taken back into the charge office.
The police were running a club with a bar in it serving liquor until late at night - actually within the precincts of the station. One of the male prisoners in the next cell was injured seriously and had been given no medical treatment at all. The origin of his injuries was not known. When the ladies were given iced water during breakfast, they were able to wash off one mans cuts and bruises and give another man with a very swollen face the ice. Food for the ladies came from family, churches and friends and they were well provided for and could even share with others less fortunate.

In the morning they were released without charge and allowed to go home. The Act under which they were detained and their march disrupted is called the "Public Order and Safety Act (POSA). In a similar incident in Harare, 38 women were detained for the same offense. It was my wife's second brush with the "law" in a year. It was pure political intimidation.

Today, Morgan Tsvangirai was supposed to speak at a rally in White City Stadium - it was advertised and all that the Party is legally obliged to do is to "notify" the police that this is happening. The Police banned the rally and when the MDC went to court to have the ban overturned, the Judge ruled with the Police. On Thursday, a meeting of Church leaders was called
at Northside Community Church in Harare to discuss the crisis in Zimbabwe and the church response. When they got there, armed police surrounded the Church and several of the leaders, including a Bishop who is chairman of the Evangelical Alliance, were detained. John Makumbe, a well known lay leader in the Church and the chairman of Transparency International in Zimbabwe, was arrested in handcuffs and thrown into the back of a Landrover and taken to the local police station. There they were harangued, insulted and abused and at least one person was beaten. At midnight they were released without charge.

Yesterday a man died in hospital from beatings inflicted in a local police station (Makoni Police Station). Friends of ours have taken in the youth chairman of a constituency in Harare who has been arrested, beaten and tortured continuously for the past few months. He is married, and is on the run. No criminal record - just politics. Every single office bearer in the Kuwadzana Constituency (a bi election due next month) has been detained and beaten in custody - many with severe injuries.

A South African journalist, has been in the country - could not get permission to operate so came in as a tourist and has been writing some very strong stuff on the manipulation of food supplies by the authorities and also about state sponsored poaching in the Gona re Zhou game reserve. The police are hunting for him and his hotel was raided. He faces a two-year jail sentence if he is caught under an Act labeled "Access to Information and the Protection of Privacy Act." Mike Carter went to watch the first world cup cricket match in Harare - wearing a black armband to protest at what is happening in Zimbabwe - 5 policemen who were waiting for him at the gate arrested him.  A leading human rights lawyer (Shumba) is threatened and
flees the country in fear for his life.

What else happened this week - oh yes, 20 000 Zimbabweans fled the country as economic refugees, 3 000 people died of Aids and an unknown number of people and children died of hunger and malnutrition and 6 000 people lost their jobs. Then just to round off our week the Presidents of South Africa and Nigeria stated publicly that "things are looking up in Zimbabwe and there are no reasons to continue with Commonwealth sanctions."  That was certainly news to those who live here, to us the situation has never been worse or conditions more repressive.

To those who seek to defend this regime we ask, what are our rights as citizens and people? We have no voice in the state-controlled media, radio and television. We cannot gather in groups of more than three people without being physically threatened and imprisoned, we cannot hold public gatherings or demonstrations, we are not even allowed to wave or show displeasure in the most innocuous ways when the President - or any senior figure goes by. We are tortured and murdered, our property taken from us and our freedom of movement denied without recourse to the rule of law. The most serious of
crimes committed by agents of the State are not even investigated. Our phones are tapped, our mail is intercepted, foreign journalists are banned and the local independent media burned and bombed and harassed at every turn. We are targeted in our business activities and are denied governmentcontracts; denied allocations of products in short supply and are targeted
for prosecution under price controls and foreign exchange regulations.

I listened very carefully to a program on the BBC today where Paulo Jordan, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the South African Parliament talked about a resolution of the Zimbabwe crisis. In this he stated very clearly that it was the South African position that the Zimbabweans must find their own way out of this mess. They (SA) felt that this would best be
achieved if we (Zimbabweans) formed a government of "national unity", then drafted a new constitution and once that was in place, held fresh elections.
Sounds great but how will this transition get started if the governing Party, Zanu PF, which holds all the reins of power, will not even sit down with the MDC and discuss a way out of the maze. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, in the recent behavior of Mugabe and his cohorts, which even remotely suggests they are ready for such talks. They will not happen if force - in some form - is not used.

So the choice of the way forward lies in three places - in State House or with the people of Zimbabwe or in Pretoria. There is no doubt in anyone's mind that if South Africa told Mugabe that he had to enter into negotiations with the MDC and was obliged to agree on a way out of this political impasse, that he would have to do so. South Africa holds all the cards. If the man in State House does not have the gumption or the courage to initiate the process himself then that leaves two centers for change. If Mbeki and Obasanjo have had the last word, then it leaves us with only ourselves.

I just want to remind those who say it is time we took events into our own hands, that this means violence in one form or another. It means wholesale repression and killings by the state machinery. Once that genie is out of the lamp, it is pretty tough task to get it back inside. Look at the Ivory Coast, Liberia, the Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia. If the MDC is then banned
and its leadership imprisoned, as we know is planned, then the only ways out is armed conflict, and do not tell me this is impossible - we know otherwise. We in the MDC stand for peaceful, democratic change; Kenya shows this is possible - but only if the incumbent allows it.

This morning I dropped a market vendor off at the Mbare Msika - the largest fresh food market in the country. She told me that no senior Zanu PF functionary could come into the Msika today for fear of the people's reaction. She said to me that the people were angry and hungry. That's an explosive mix and this week Mbeki and Obasanjo might just have tossed into
the ring, a burning wick.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 15th February, 2003.

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From Business Day (SA), 18 February

Mbeki, Zanu moderate in secret crisis talks

Political Correspondent

SA has intensified its efforts to bring about a government of national unity in Zimbabwe, with President Thabo Mbeki meeting a top Zimbabwean politician touted as a possible successor to President Robert Mugabe. Mbeki is understood to have met Zimbabwe's former finance minister, Simba Makoni, a leading Zanu PF moderate, in secret at an undisclosed venue in SA in January. Mbeki's spokesman, Bheki Khumalo, could neither confirm nor deny the meeting. Makoni has been linked in the Zimbabwean media to initiatives by prominent politicians, business people and church leaders to found a new political party made up of moderates from both the ruling Zanu PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Mbeki has argued that only an inclusive political settlement will end the Zimbabwean crisis. "People want us to participate in the removal of the government of Zimbabwe We are not going to be going around the African continent removing governments," he said on Sunday. The SA plan for a government of national unity in Zimbabwe apparently hinges on the MDC dropping its court challenge to Mugabe's presidential election victory in 2002, and on the Zimbabwean government terminating MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai's treason trial. Zimbabwe's Sunday Mirror reported earlier this month that Makoni was being touted as the potential head of a new party, which would try to end Zimbabwe's international isolation and revive the country's economy. Makoni quit cabinet in August after a fall out with Mugabe over plans to devalue the Zimbabwean dollar.

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Comment from ZWNEWS, 18 February

No nine day wonder

By Michael Hartnack

President Robert Mugabe turns 79 this Friday, amid lavish advertising supplements in pro-government newspapers, and junketing for the 21st February Movement, the under-14s arm of the ruling Zanu PF party.  Patriotic parents used to be urged to give children presents, as at Christmas. Any private individual, any business enterprise, association or parastatal body wishing to be seen as loyal feels compelled to buy space for fulsome messages. Somehow even the bankrupt National Oil Company, the Revenue Authority and the Prison Service have funds to spare for this. Meanwhile the public queue for petrol, wait years for tax refunds, and overcrowded jails lack toilet paper, soap, basic medicines and rations. Mugabe's finest birthday present has already been gift-wrapped by Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and South Africa’s Thabo Mbeki in the form of their attempts to scuttle year-long Commonwealth sanctions against his regime. They are saying, in effect, that Mugabe must be allowed to "get away with" his brutal and fraudulent 2002 presidential election. Obasanjo stopped off in Harare on 8 February after seeing Mbeki. He met Mugabe for three hours and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai for 15 minutes. Obasanjo then wrote to Australian Prime Minister John Howard saying he sees no need for the Commonwealth troika, which also includes Mbeki, to meet again and Mugabe’s suspension and other targeted sanctions should, therefore, fall away forthwith. Obasanjo declares that all is pretty well back to normal following three years of state-sponsored violence: resettlement of 340 000 black Zimbabweans is in full swing, white farmers are getting compensation, and repression is being relaxed. This birthday fantasy bears no relation to the reality of famine and terror that last week saw police again beating peaceful demonstrators, and unlawfully arresting Bishop Trevor Manhanga of the Evangelical Fellowship on church property. Supporters of Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change risked the fury of Mugabe's  paramilitaries to mount a fleeting demonstration and burn the Nigerian flag. They fled before police could pounce but journalists were, as usual, arrested. Mugabe’s police and other agents regard cameramen, particularly, as more important targets than protesters themselves.

The attempts by Obasanjo and Mbeki to gain international rehabilitation for Mugabe’s regime revive memories of Ian Smith's prediction that his 1965 Unilateral Declaration of Independence would be a "Nine Day Wonder". For a time the world did, indeed, seem to lose interest in Rhodesia as new crises erupted elsewhere. British and U.S. right-wingers suggested the Rhodesian issue should be quietly forgotten and sanctions dropped. And Smith seemed to have "got away with it" - until as late as 1974 when a coup in Lisbon heralded the withdrawal by Portugal from its African colonies which, crucially, included Mozambique. A rapidly increasing population, black distrust of his regime and the outbreak of civil war all made nonsense of Smith's prophesy. Similar factors will make nonsense of Obasanjo's calculations. It is just possible, though unlikely, that with Mbeki's and Obasanjo's good offices, Zimbabwe may win renewed international lending, suspended in 1998. But there will be immense difficulty removing United States and European Union objections, even with the help of the US African- American lobby and the French. For a while a "platinum window" could open, along with revival of the gold price, thus alleviating current 208,1 percent inflation, four million unemployed, and the collapses of commercial agriculture and manufacturing. But no short term palliative can end the ecological and demographic crises or remove widespread distrust of the governing elite. In addition, state-sponsored vandalism and mass emigration have caused damage to Zimbabwe’s infrastructure and human resources that will take generations to repair.

Mbeki’s cardinal blunder was his jejune belief, encouraged by Obasanjo, that Zimbabwe could be compared to those African states where a few Cabinet seats were sufficient to persuade the leaders of foreign- backed rebels to come out of the bush and join the ruling elite. Mbeki chooses not to acknowledge that Zimbabwe's problems, as in South Africa under apartheid, cannot be tackled while there is a vast gulf between the governed and the governing. It would be as if South Africa’s African National Congress could have been bought off under apartheid with a few Mercedes Benzes, some fancy ministerial titles and suites of offices in Pretoria. The implication of the South African and Nigerian policy toward Mugabe is that the principle of self assessment in the New Economic Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) means encouraging the corrupt use of political patronage as a routine instrument of government, turning a blind eye to bogus elections or ethnic cleansing. It makes Mbeki's belief in an African Renaissance look more and more shallow. Cricketers Andy Flower and Henry Olonga, in their courageous statement at the start of Zimbabwe’s first World cup cricket match in Harare on 10 February, declared: "We have a conscience and feelings. We cannot remain silent. We mourn the death of democracy. We are making a silent plea to those responsible to stop the abuse of human rights in Zimbabwe." Among those with responsibility are, undoubtedly, Obasanjo and Mbeki.

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Mbeki speaks out on protection of property in Zimbabwe
February 18, 2003, 19:30,1009,53272,00.html
Mbeki responds to Zimbabwe question
The government has approached the government of Zimbabwe to deal with
the issue of property owned by South Africans in that country, President
Thabo Mbeki said today.

Replying to debate in the National Assembly on his state of the nation
address, he said a bilateral agreement to protect investments in both
countries had been discussed and was under consideration.

"We have already intervened with the government of Zimbabwe to deal with
the issue of property owned by South Africans," Mbeki said.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) said in a statement the president's
comments were his first direct response to numerous appeals in this
regard over the past 12 months.

"If the president's statement translates into meaningful application of
the rule of law towards South African investors in Zimbabwe, it will be
good news indeed," Andries Botha, DA's agriculture spokesperson said.

However, it should be noted that Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the Foreign
Affairs Minister, had given a similar assurance last year, but South
African did not enjoy any protection during the ensuing period, he said.

Boy Geldenhuys, the New National Party (NNP) foreign affairs
spokesperson, said an agreement to protect property in Zimbabwe would be
excellent news for South Africans.

"The NNP trusts that the process of implementing will be speeded up as
many South Africans have already suffered great losses.

"In the light of this announcement, we trust that the Zimbabwean
government will stop seizing any further South African citizen'
properties," he said.

Mbeki also assured Parliament that the government would never force its
will on its neighbours.

"I would like to take this opportunity to assure our neighbours and the
peoples of the rest of Africa that the government we lead has no great
power pretensions. "We claim no right to impose our will on any
independent country."

South Africa has come under increasing pressure from Zimbabwean
President Robert Mugabe's detractors to take tougher action to help
bring an end to the political and economic crisis in the neighbouring

The president and his Nigerian counterpart, Olusegun Obasanjo, have
resolved not take part in a meeting of a Commonwealth troika to discuss
extending the suspension of Zimbabwe's government from the organisation.
This will effectively end Zimbabwe's suspension.

Mbeki said the government would act within the context of international
agreements, which obliged the country to respect its obligations under
bilateral relations, the Southern African Development Community, the
African Union, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Commonwealth and the United

"Whatever we may think of ourselves, none of these give us the
unilateral right to force anything on any other independent country," he
said. - Sapa
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Please alert travellers to be aware of the hazards of driving in the early
hours or at dawn around the "flyovers" and Remembrance Drive areas of
Harare. Vehicles are robbed of their luggage either at poorly lit
intersections or whilst boxed in by vendors' carts. Either avoid this point
or take extreme caution, but realise the most recent victim was taking care
and still lost a window to a shadow and with a brick!

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Prelude text: The first letter further congratulates Flower and Olonga's
courageous act, whilst the second letter concerns Mbeki's policy of `quiet


Letter 1: Keri Basset

To all at the ZCU hierarchy

Although I hail from the United Kingdom originally, I have lived all my
life in Africa, Zimbabwe in particular, and it has been sad, to say the
least, to see what hierarchy can do to a country that was once the envy of
many other African and other states. Through the years of deterioration of
this beloved county I, a middle aged lady, have lived through a carjacking,
a hijacking, mugging, smash & grab of my car windows, poisoning of my
beloved German shepherd dog, burglary to name a few of the atrocities,
though not the worst, that have been perpetrated against many of our
country's citizens, residents, overseas visitors etc but at least I am
alive today.

Do you call this "Justice" for living in this country and has it happened
to any of your loved ones because if it hasn't then no wonder you sit in
your little "ivory towers" and judge others.  If it has, then you should
hold your heads in shame by condemning two people who stood up for what
they believed in.

I not only applaud but salute the stand that both Henry Olonga and Andy
Flower took by telling the world exactly how they thought and felt about
their country.  At least they had the courage of their convictions and guts
to do this which is more than can be said of the hierarchy of the ZCU who
seems to bury its head in the sand and punish those for what they rightly
believe in.  Have none of you any beliefs or are you too scared to voice
them in the presence of others for fear of the reprisals that might be
heaped upon you, as you have taken to heap upon these two gallant men of
Zimbabwe who can be deservedly proud to call themselves Zimbabweans. You
should be ashamed of the stance that you have taken against Andy and Henry
- at least they can be called "men amongst men" unlike it would appear, a
lot of others within the ranks of the ZCU

Keri Bassett


Letter 2: Andrew Hall

It is an unshakeable fact that Thabo Mbeki is in total cahoots with Mugabe.
His 'silent diplomacy' is just terrorist speak for "let Mugabe get on with
oppressing his people and stealing land".

If the fact be known, Mbeki has long been friends with Mugabe and they both
share a history of violent terrorist revolution which included things like
bringing people on side by cutting off their lips and ears and making them
eat them, or putting burning tyres around the necks of selected victims.
Tony Blair spoke of the need to get rid of Saddam Hussein because of his
track record as a terrible dictator.  Mugabe has not been too far different
to Hussein with his meddling in DRC as well as his slaughter, abuse and
starvation of HIS OWN PEOPLE.  Mbeki's record of rule in South Africa shows
that he and his mob are rapidly catching up with Mugabe and South Africa
will collapse even faster.

The only answer is for the democratic nations of the world to oust all
leaders of revolutionary, communist terrorist background.  This means the
leaders of Zimbabwe, South Africa, Iraq, North Korea, Cuba.  Anyone else
will think twice before trying to make gods of themselves. From the UK we
must step up our campaign against Mugabe to include censure of Mbeki.  If
it causes a split in the Commonwealth, then that can be no bad thing, as
the sensible nations will carry on as before and the covers will be off the
pariah nations - who can then be put under increasing international

We must examine ways of now putting pressure on Mbeki - just as a start.

Andrew Hall,
Free Zimbabwe activist &
Christian Watch (UK)

All letters published on the open Letter Forum are the views and opinions
of the submitters, and do not represent the official viewpoint of Justice
for Agriculture.

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We originally sent this out on Friday. However, due to formatting problems
it has been returned. It has already been sent out to selected media as
reflected in today's edition of The Daily News. Here it is again in full.


JAG'S comments are done on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis, where
appropriate, and demarcated by the use of lined breaks and labelling "JAG'S

His Excellency,
Rt. Hon John Howard,
Prime Minister of Australia

Dear Prime Minister

I am writing to you at this time in continuation of our consultations and
especially to brief you on issues on which we have been engaged relating to
Zimbabwe. This briefing has become necessary following my recent visit to
South Africa where I had extensive discussions with President Thabo Mbeki,
President of the Republic of South Africa, and then to Zimbabwe where I was
engaged in very useful and constructive exchange of views with President
Robert Mugabe. President Mbeki seized the opportunity of my visit to brief
me on his recent trip to Britain, including his discussions with Prime
Minister Tony Blair on Zimbabwe.

You may recall Mr Prime Minister that Zimbabwe was one of the issues
discussed at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Coolum,
Australia, in February 2002 as a result of which a troika was established
to follow up on the matter. Soon afterwards, we had our first meeting at
the Marlborough House in London in March 2002 to consider the report of the
Commonwealth Observer Group on Zimbabwean elections, and it was also
decided, among other things, that Zimbabwe should be suspended from the
Commonwealth Councils for one year and that we would meet in a year to
review developments during that one year suspension. In spite of the one
year stipulation for meeting, the troika still met in Abuja at your
request. Since then, your government has proceeded to impose sanctions on
Zimbabwe, a decision which of course is your government's prerogative.
However, this unfortunate decision would seem to me to compromise
Australia's position as an honest broker in the Zimbabwean crisis.

Meanwhile, I am sad to note that the unhelpful media war between Britain
and Zimbabwe has not abated, but actually exacerbated matters thereby
worsening the already charged situation. It was against this background
that I concluded that another meeting of the Commonwealth Troika on
Zimbabwe at this time might not serve any useful purpose. Indeed, President
Thabo Mbeki shares the same view. This position is further reinforced by
the fact of certain critical developments that have occurred in Zimbabwe
and which must be acknowledged.


JAG'S COMMENT: The deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe since March 2002 has
fuelled the media coverage. The reality of the situation is 100 times worse
than a year ago. Present Government PR attempts are aimed at legitimising
and sanitising the ZANU-PF regime by portraying a contrived and manipulated
window of normality, Mbeki, Obasanjo, Chirac and CFU are complicit in this.
One needs to focus on the reality behind this propaganda stage-managed
exercise.  Part of the stage-managed exercise revolves around the World Cup
Cricket, Tsvangirai's trial, the cancelled Commonwealth Troika meeting and
the invitation of Mugabe to the Franco African summit in Paris.


In many of our previous meetings, it had been admitted that the issue of
land is at the core of the current crisis in Zimbabwe and that an
appropriate solution to this problem would go a long way in bringing to
early conclusion other associated issues. Following my recent visit to
Zimbabwe, I have come to realise that the land issue may no longer be the
most serious problem at this juncture as it cannot be compared to the
situation during the Lancaster House Conference in 1979 or even in the last
ten years.


JAG'S COMMENT: Very little was done about the land issue in the first 20
years of ZANU-PF rule although it was, and is, a real issue. The
resettlement projects in the first 20 years collapsed because of no
transference of title and resultant inability to borrow independently,
culminating in a total dependence on Government. This was in spite of
funding from Britain and other donor countries for land reform*these funds
were misdirected elsewhere. In 1980, titled commercial farmland constituted
28,2% of Zimbabwe's total area and was almost exclusively white-owned. By
2000, it had fallen to 18,5% via the willing buyer, willing seller
programme. This was at the start of the "fast track" land acquisition

Britain withdrew any further funding after 1996/7 and the new labour
government was embarrassed by the inherited abject lack of success and
imposed new conditions revolving around good governance and accountability.
By 2000, 82% of the 18,5% of the land under white ownership had been
purchased post-1980, indicating the volume of commercial farmland available
for land reform in that Government, by virtue of letters of no present
interest, had first refusal on all land changing hands.

The Referendum in 2000 saw a turning point in the strategy regarding land
reform and its use now as a political tool to target farm workers, white
farmers and a general attack on title. Farm workers were perceived as the
easiest target being on the lower rungs of middle class society and
vulnerable in their remote ruralness. The strongholds of opposition urban
middle class dwellers were partially protected by publicity. The white
commercial farmers and their workers were perceived as being behind the
opposition. As time went on, they became "a problem" by "bearing witness"
to events on the ground and facilitating the International press war
against the Government and ZANU-PF.


It is now a matter of reality that the Fast Track Land Resettlement
Programme, adopted by the Government of Zimbabwe in order to address the
situation that was developing in the country at that time, has
substantially ended since 31st August 2002. Since then, the Land Reform
Programme (LRP) has continued to be implemented in the normal regulatory
process. I note, in particular, that land occupation by demonstrators has
ended, while the Government of Zimbabwe has agreed to pay compensation for
any improvement on the land acquired under the Fast Track Programme and the


JAG'S COMMENTS: It is far from ended. Listings continue weekly, with 77 new
listings since 1/1/2003. Evictions occur almost daily and there is
continual looting and damage to infrastructure and property.  The war
veterans are now augmented by green bombers and youth brigade fast
developing into a warlord scenario in rural, especially commercial, farming
areas.  Certainly there is a state sponsored breakdown in the rule of law,
which is now starting to manifest itself in urban areas. To call this a
normal regulatory process when 90% of the legal process is flawed and it is
a 100% unconstitutional is an insult in the extreme when one considers the
resultant anarchy. Evictees are now forced off leaving everything behind
including standing crops in the ground and can remove household contents


I am informed that in the current financial year, the Government has
actually allocated the sum of four billion Zimbabwe dollars ($4bn) to pay
for full and fair compensation for whatever improvements that may have been
made on the land being acquired. Although this may be a far cry from
adequate compensation, the good intention on the part of a Government
cash-strapped should not be overlooked. However, the Government still
insists that compensation for the true commercial value of the land, at
today's prices, must be paid by the British Government, which did not pay
anything when the lands were taken from the African owners during the
colonial period.


JAG'S COMMENTS: No compensation has been paid to date to any farmers under
the fast track program. Even farmers owed for land ceded before the fast
track process are having their payments reneged upon. The explanation given
is that priority is being given to the funding of new farmers for their
inputs. The Western donor countries should not be fooled by this. Funds
made available in the past for support of resettlement schemes were looted
and never reached their intended recipients. Why does the Government not
grant Title, which would allow the individual farmers the freedom to raise
the necessary finance? This would be TRUE empowerment and TRUE freedom.
Government has absolutely no intention of granting freedom and empowerment
to the people.  What they are after is total control of the population
through total dependency. Britain has remained committed to funding land
reform done in a transparent fashion and aimed at poverty alleviation. The
present so called land reform is a farce considering the majority of
recipients are the party elites and loyalists.


Furthermore, the Government of Zimbabwe has recently been engaged in
dialogue with the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU). Indeed, the Government
has again reiterated to these farmers its readiness and preparedness to
provide land to anyone who wishes to continue farming and has so applied.
Certainly, more work needs to be done in this process and it is therefore
necessary that every encouragement must be given by all concerned. I
emphasise that Government of Zimbabwe should always keep open the channel
of dialogue with the Commercial Farmers Union who felt a sense of loss in
the exercise.


JAG'S COMMENTS: After 18 months with no dialogue, during which time the
government has decimated and destroyed commercial agriculture and
production, they would now like the CFU to endorse and give their blessing
to what has happened by heralding the land reform programme a success and
show good faith in the exercise by pledging farmers' machinery and
equipment.  Why should farmers apply for A2 plots when they are the
rightful owners of their farms, proof of which is the freehold title deed
in their possession?  Application for land under the A2 scheme would in
effect be endorsing and recognising the loss of their farms and would be
exchanging freehold title land for a leasehold arrangement with Government
with pre-conditions - again total control.

The CFU has neither the mandate nor the legal power of attorney to make
these pledges or endorsements on behalf of the commercial farmers.  The
commercial farmers' support of CFU is questionable and debateable at this
time. Considering the CFU's timid silence followed by a belated weak
response in countering this PR debacle, farmers' suspicions have been
aroused. These have been exacerbated and strengthened by AGRI SA's strong
stance in contrast.


The results of the Government's effort in the land redistribution exercise
have been acclaimed as remarkable. By 1998, 74 000 families had been
settled under the willing-seller/willing-buyer basis. An additional 220 000
communal peasant families and 54 000 indigenous commercial farmers were
settled under the Fast Track Resettlement Programme on 11 million hectares
of land. Ideally, full compensation should have been paid as the land was
being appropriated. This programme has no doubt addressed, to some extent,
the internal dissatisfaction arising from the skewed colonial land policy
which remained a potential source of conflict in Zimbabwe. On the other
hand, it is reasonable to expect that a major reform on this vast scale
would be attended by some measure of corruption together with complaints of


JAG'S COMMENTS: Remarkable, yes, as an unmitigated disaster. Many of these
plots, especially A2 plots were not fully subscribed and today many are
being abandoned, as there is no financial or physical support for the
settlers. Neither is there title to the land. Again, this demonstrates
political control through total dependency and destruction of original
title.  The farm workers (350,000 permanent employees and 250,000 seasonal
casual employees and their dependents: totalling 1½ - 2 million people)
are without doubt the most qualified and skilled in terms of continued
agricultural production, to say nothing of them being the most deserving,
yet they have been specifically excluded from the exercise.


In response to some of these criticisms, President Mugabe confirmed to me
that he had in place procedures for receiving complaints, and that all
those found guilty of malpractices have been brought to book.

Moreover, in order to promote transparency, equity and ensure sustainable
utilisation of resettled land, as well as determining the level of uptake,
the Government of Zimbabwe has instituted a land audit that aims to
generate confidence in the whole process. This audit will help in the
identification of any malpractices or corruption which the Government of
Zimbabwe has expressed its readiness to investigate and redress.


JAG'S COMMENTS: No one to date has been held accountable for the numerous
murders and the gross human rights violations conducted by political and
state agents. Many of the perpetrators were given Presidential amnesty in
2000. The land audit team has been denied access into many of the worst
affected areas by lawless elements such as war veterans, ZANU PF youth
brigade and, more recently, the green bombers.


With regard to the criticisms on land given to some officials but not
utilised, it seems that this may not be directly connected with the Fast
Track Programme. Generally, the Zimbabwean Government gave land to those
who intended to utilise it for farming purposes. It is also true that many
of those allocated land need financial assistance from Government for
optimum utilisation. Unfortunately, with priority being given to payment of
compensation for improvements on the land, the Government has only been
able to provide financial assistance to about 30 percent of this group.
This, I believe is an area where the international community can genuinely
provide assistance, not to the Government but to those genuinely desirous
of farming.


JAG'S COMMENTS: The allocation process itself has been highly suspect,
flawed and non-transparent. It has been essentially governed by a process
of rewarding those loyal to the party.  The allocation of farms to
prominent politicians in the party, high court judges, civil servants,
members of the army, air force and even the Z. R. Police and Z. R. Prison
Services is well documented. The rewarding process was evident prior to the
fast track land reform program, but became more blatant and widespread


It is encouraging that there has been renewed international interest in
supporting the Land Reform Programme in Zimbabwe. Given the progress which
I have outlined above, it is essential that we should continue to look at
ways by which we can get more members of the international community not
only interested but actively involved in the programme, only then can the
average Zimbabwean begin to reap the benefits of the exercise and the
country would be helped to cope with the issue of scarcity of food.


JAG'S COMMENTS: Any international financial assistance for the existing so
called land reform programme would be aiding and abetting the current
illegitimate regime and their loyal supporters to the exclusion and
betrayal of the very people who should have benefited; the poor and
landless.  The scarcity of food is hardly going to be rectified by
destroying the commercial agricultural base and placing it under
subsistence agriculture with no support structure and no title.


A major concern and perhaps criticism of the LRP by the international
community has been the fate of former farm workers from neighbouring states
of Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia particularly affected by the
redistribution programme. I am informed that, of the estimated four hundred
thousand people affected, some have been resettled, while many others have
been re-employed on the 54 000 recently created commercial farms. In fact,
I am assured that the Zimbabwean Cabinet has taken a decision to the effect
that all foreigners or their offspring from Sadc countries who came as
labourers before 1980 will be entitled to Zimbabwean citizenship.
Accordingly, it is envisaged that by the end of March 2003, the problem of
displaced former foreign workers will no longer be an issue as they will be
entitled, as bona fide Zimbabwean citizens, to the full benefits of land


JAG'S COMMENTS: Farm workers were promised 20% of the land at Abuja. This
has not happened. Before the fast track program approximately 350 000
permanent workers and approximately 250 000 seasonal casual workers were
employed in the agricultural industry. Including their dependents, this
amounts to approximately two million men, women and children being
dependent on the agricultural industry. These workers were by no means all
of foreign origin from surrounding countries as insinuated here. Only
approximately 25-30% were of foreign origin. All farm workers have been
specifically excluded from the land allocation process, which substantiates
the contention that they are being specifically targeted politically.

Standard procedure on acquired farms is that once the owner has been
evicted and the retrenchment packages paid, the farm workers are evicted
themselves shortly afterwards. There are documented accounts of farm
workers being trucked out of farming areas and dumped in very remote and
desolate areas, like the Zambezi Valley. Only those farm workers deemed
politically correct with substantiated track records of loyalty were
offered land. This is a very small percentage, probably under 5%.  The farm
workers of foreign origin have always found it impossible to procure the
necessary identity documents.  This is hardly likely to be alleviated in
that Zimbabwe citizens are finding it increasingly difficult to sort out
their identity documents and this trend is getting worse.


Another area of concern and perhaps outcry pertains to the "Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA)". I am assured in this
regard the Government of Zimbabwe continues to make genuine efforts to
respond to such concerns. Indeed, following challenges by the media in the
Zimbabwean High Court, the Minister of Information has proposed some
amendments to the Act. I have been assured that this will be one of the
issues to be taken as matter of priority when Parliament resumes later this

On the issue of inter-party dialogue, the Government of Zimbabwe remains
committed to resuming the talks but feels that this can only happen after
the court's ruling on the petition by the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC). In my separate meetings with Mr Morgan Tsvangirai
of the MDC, I have brought to his attention the position of the Zimbabwean
Government with regard to negotiations. The MDC will now therefore have to
decide on whether to withdraw the case from the court so that the
negotiations can resume in earnest or wait until the determination of the
case by the court. There is need for Zimbabweans of all parties to dialogue
and reach consensus on good governance, human rights, stability and general
direction of development of their country.

During my visit to Zimbabwe, Honourable Job Sikhala, an MP of MDC for St
Mary's, forwarded a petition to me complaining of breach of fundamental
human rights on the part of the Zimbabwean police and possibly sponsored by
Government. I raised the issue with President Mugabe who confirmed that the
MP concerned had taken the case to court and that the police admitted with
apology that the MP was assaulted. The police were to take necessary
disciplinary action against the culprit. President Mugabe denied any
Government involvement in such police acts. Allowing the case to be
prosecuted in court must convince people that Government was not behind the
act and would not condone it.

From all accounts, it would be appear that violence - political or
non-political - is fairly pervasive in Zimbabwe. If there are some coming
from Government agencies, there are certainly those coming from
non-government agencies. All stakeholders in Zimbabwe have to work together
to stop the reign of terror and violence. The Government must be in the
vanguard of such efforts.

With the above, it is clear to me that we must concert to give every
assistance to Zimbabwe so that the present crisis may be speedily brought
to an end. It is also necessary that we should encourage the international
community to redeem the pledges of financial assistance, reaffirmed in our
Marlborough House decision, in order to expedite the land reform process
and bring about the desired improvement in the standard of living of the
generality of Zimbabweans. The international community and organisations
that have generously contributed to food donation to Zimbabwe must be
commended for the humanitarian gesture which has been of tremendous
assistance to Zimbabwe and the sub-region. The earlier Zimbabwe can get out
of her political crisis, economic difficulties and food shortage, the
better it would be for the country, the sub-region and the continent. It is
important that we remain positively engaged with Zimbabwe. We must continue
to make good offices available for mediation between UK and Zimbabwe, a
rather unfortunate confrontation in which rhetorics and media warfare tend
to be suppressing reason and fair mindedness.

From all the above, together with what I personally saw on the ground in
Zimbabwe, I believe that the time is now auspicious to lift the sanctions
on Zimbabwe with regard to her suspension from the Commonwealth Councils.
This will represent an appropriate development for the final resolution of
the crisis in that country.


JAG'S COMMENTS: All of the above is essentially a gross misrepresentation
of the facts and totally removed from the harsh realities on the ground.
The vast majority of Zimbabweans are facing daily hardship, famine and
human rights abuses and this is worsening daily. Now is certainly not the
time to remove or relax sanctions or suspensions.  More to the point now is
the time to intensify pressure to save Zimbabwe and her people from this
illegal regime.


I crave your indulgence to forward a copy of this letter to President Thabo
Mbeki and another copy to the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth who can
use it as a basis for re-establishment of contact with Zimbabwean
authorities at all levels. This will be made easier with Prime Minister
Tony Blair already accepting an appeal to discourage media offensive
against Zimbabwe from the UK side and President Mugabe agreeing to
reciprocate in kind. This should be the precursor to re-engagement between
UK and Zimbabwe. Copies of this letter will also be forwarded to President
Mugabe and Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Please accept, Mr Prime Minister, the assurances of my highest esteem and

Yours sincerely

Olusegun Obasanjo.

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