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

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Zim Standard

      Welcome aboard 2003
      overthetop By Brian Latham

      CITIZENS of a troubled central African country have moved into the New
Year surrounded by uncertainty and confusion. Amid government reports
suggesting that there is either no fuel or lots available-or that saboteurs
are hoarding all the fuel, most residents spent the festive season sitting
miserably in their motorcars showing no visible signs of festivity.

      To add to the confusion, the troubled central African nation's middle
classes were divided between those who wanted foreigners to play cricket in
their country and those who didn't. The debate became so heated that Zany
Party spin doctors were able to exploit the issue by suggesting that an
Australian tourist, murdered in a well-known if largely empty tourist
resort, was killed by enemies of the state who hoped the murder would derail
international cricket matches scheduled in the troubled central African

      No one suggested a more sensible and prosaic reason for the murder, or
considered the possibility that he may have been robbed and killed.
Alternatively, he may have been involved in a money changing deal that went
sour, or he may simply have been murdered for being an Australian.

      Still, debate raged fiercely when a clearly troubled cricket official
announced that foreign cricketers would be safely transported from their
luxury hotels to sporting venues in the troubled central African nation's
troubled cities. It has also been announced that fuel and food would be
guaranteed for the visiting cricketers. Residents of the troubled nation
pondered the morality of guaranteeing fuel and food to a handful of pampered
and overpaid posers while 11 million locals were starving to death in fuel

      Meanwhile frantic cricket officials said the matches should go ahead
as planned because what the troubled central African country needed more
than anything else was a little light hearted entertainment in these
troubled times. Most people interviewed by Over The Top said they got all
the entertainment and humour they needed from watching the antics of the
Zany Party. In fact, they said, they wished the entertainment would stop for
a while because; well, frankly, three years of non-stop absurdity on the
state-owned airwaves was a bit much.

      While the debate raged on, freedom-loving citizens of the troubled
central African nation vowed to hold protests should the matches take place.
It was unclear whether some of them were demonstrating at the thought of
foreigners lending credibility to the Zany government or whether they were
simply offended by the prospect of watching 22 lunatics slapping a small
leather ball around a green field for hours on end.

      It seemed strange, some said, that so many white adherents of this
peculiar game should be willing to play sport at a venue that just recently
displayed graffiti on its walls exhorting death to all honkies-stranger
still that local and deeply troubled whites should be willing to set foot in
the place. Given that it took so long for the graffiti to be removed, the
would-be protesters said, it seemed possible that the management at the club
in question supported the sentiments written so boldly on their walls.

      It has also been pointed out that with no guarantees being made for
the safety of spectators, let alone the availability of fuel or even food,
it was unlikely that cricket enthusiasts would flock to the troubled central
African country for a few weeks of sunshine. Sunshine is all very well, but
it doesn't put petrol in the tank or food on the table.
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Zim Standard

      2002 end of year awards (Continued from last week)
      By Chido Makunike

      Strangest lawyer, Patrick Chinamasa

      MINISTER in charge of legal affairs who doesn't seem the least bit
concerned about issues of justice. Instead of protecting the weak from the
strong, and right from wrong, he has enthusiastically participated in
helping Zimbabwe to become a virtual police state. It is because of lawyers
of this calibre that the profession is the butt of so many unkind jokes.

      Crispest suit and tie, shiniest shoes,

      President Mugabe

      NOT particularly gifted at solving national problems, but pays
tremendous attention to his appearance. If he is a failure as president, he
sure as hell is a well-dressed failed president. It's an awful pity that
pretty clothes do not reflect one's competence. It's not with your
appearance and style that I am concerned with as a citizen but with your
substance or the lack of it.

      The sheer audacity award, Tendai Westerhof

      Former part-time model and big spender, currently part-time socialite
whose marriage sadly ended in a messy, public way, feeding our insatiable
appetite for salacious gossip. She could have swayed public opinion to her
version of what killed the marriage, but lost all hope of doing that when
she sent people tittering by her claims for maintenance from soccer coach
Clemens Westerhof, for children conceived with other men.

      This led to some unkind wags to accuse her of being a gold digger
trying to take advantage of a foreigner who may have thought he had found
himself a ticket to a definite stay in sunny Zimbabwe, a still sought-after
retirement destination despite its problems. Titillating divorce details
fuelled widespread speculation that it could have been a marriage of
convenience that went awry, which is probably vicious and unfair.

      Could rehabilitate her reputation and socialite status in 2003 if she
organises some beauty contests and donates the proceeds to charity, keeps
her perm as immaculate as always, and perhaps becomes a gospel singer as is
the trend these days.

      Most shameless

      Many qualified as contenders for this award, but the winner by a small
margin over Jonathan Moyo, was Ignatius Chombo, a long-serving minister who
has never really distinguished himself at anything.

      Now, as local government minister, he is trying to appear very
concerned about the affairs of the Harare City Council because it is run by
the opposition MDC, and has received accolades for making changes in a short
space of time and under the difficult national economic conditions brought
about by the regime of which Chombo is a senior member. But Chombo has only
managed to look petty and churlish because he has a blatantly crude
political agenda. Some fellas hate to see dedication and success in others
because it exposes their lack of it.

      Most luckless minister, Amos Midzi.

      Dismally lost the election for mayor of Harare. Thought he had hit pay
dirt when suddenly Mugabe made him minister of Energy. No sooner had the
poor chap been given the keys to the coveted ministerial Mercedes, than he
found that there was no fun at all in being a minister in the end times of
the Mugabe era.

      Will unfairly go down in history as the chap who couldn't keep fuel
coming in and who had to take a lot of the heat that should rightfully have
been directed at Mugabe. But then again, his main job may not really be one
of finding the non-existent foreign currency to keep fuel coming in, but to
buffer Mugabe from public rage, which is not working anyway.

      You know your goose is cooked when even official rags like The Herald,
The Sunday Mail and The Chronicle, always eager to cover up and wipe the
behinds of presidential cronies, get so frustrated at the problems
bedevilling the country and the lack of solutions to them, that they start
muttering criticisms at a minister, tentative and timid though this may be.

      Poor chap now hates to hear his cell-phone ring, never sure if it is
Mugabe wanting to take out his frustrations on him, or the troublesome media
wanting to find out where the hell the "millions of litres of petrol/diesel"
we kept hearing about really were.

      Is in a no-win situation: economic conditions mean he cannot succeed
at his job but the consequences of spurning Mugabe by quitting, just months
after being appointed, are too dire to contemplate. Negotiate a pay off of
the ministerial Mercedes as soon as possible, Amos, so that if Mugabe makes
you the scapegoat for his failures by firing you, you have something
prestigious to show off to friends and neighbours about your time as

      The poultry award.

      This goes to the amazing Jocelyn Chiwenga, formerly Mrs Jacobsen via
her rather intimate former association with Denmark, who shocked, frightened
and amused a lot of people with her kinky, naughty quip about not having
"tasted any white flesh since 1980", her expressed desire to find the
slightest excuse to kill a white person, and her astonishing affinity for
money earned by someone else, despite her boast of being "filthy rich". It
speaks volumes about the Mugabe-style land redistribution programme.

      There is an on-going debate about whether the white flesh she misses
so much is poultry or pork. I don't want to speculate on what the fierce
'revolutionary' was talking about exactly, but she certainly opened a can of
worms. It might be wise to be a little more discreet in expressing her
Chimurenga fervour in future, so that when she speaks on behalf of her
Heritage Foundation (unkindly alleged by some in the oppositional press to
be a one-woman band created and based in Jonathan Moyo's office) and
lectures us on African values, any cynics out there, and I'm sure there are
some such counter-revolutionary scoundrels among us, can begin to take her a
little more seriously.

      Least convincing religious convert, Themba Mliswa.

      Has tried his hand at importing Zimbabweans into Britain using
questionable and expensive methods, writing pro-Mugabe and anti-British
propaganda from that country while enjoying it's hospitality, being a
fitness guru to the rich and famous, being lover man and man about town as
well as farmer and businessman; and somehow working his way into heading
Dynamos football club for about two minutes before being kicked out-all with
dubious results.

      Likes to remind the public of how principled he is-something comrade
Mugabe also likes to do-losing sight of the subtle but significant fact that
those who are principled do not need to boast about it. They quietly live by
their principles which are clear for everyone to see.

      Latest person to loudly, publicly claim to have become a born-again
Christian, but this does not yet show in his lifestyle; may be just a
passing fad to try to impress the public, like it is for too many others,
thus giving religion a bad name. Is he really going to "straighten up and
fly right," or is it just a publicity stunt?

      Religionists of all faiths, as well as some heathens, will be watching
closely. The very few real Christians, like the very few principled people,
do not need to broadcast it to the world.

      Coup of the year

      This has to be the ousting of controversial, contentious football
administrator and presidential nephew Leo Mugabe, after years of clinging to
the Zifa chairmanship despite widespread cries for him to go for failing to
help bring honour and glory to the sport, and for his general
unsportsmanlike behaviour. He has been tainted by charges of profiteering on
the foreign exchange black market with US dollars donated to Zifa. Further,
allegations that he promised some desperate football official some position
in exchange for the purchase of a new set of tyres for his fashionable
Mitsubishi Pajero, had all of Harare tittering at the extent and pettiness
of corruption in Zimbabwean life. If true, I hope the car at least rides
well with the new tyres. The coup was widely hailed, even among those who
bent over backwards to kiss the ass of Uncle Bob.

      But what did the coup tell us? That this is just a football matter? Or
should we read more into it about the political mood of the country or about
football officials who have all along been too timid to face down the
president's powerful and hitherto untouchable muzukuru finally finding the
courage to say 'enough is enough' and deposing him?

      Special mention

      Philip Chiyangwa for the beautiful Roman columns displayed modestly at
his several-bedroomed mansion in prestigious Borrowdale, and for the car
that must be a wonderful inspiration to his rural constituents, proving to
them that Zanu PF has not necessarily impoverished everybody. Chave


      There are many more deserving winners, but my boss says I ramble too
much and need to be briefer and more concise in 2003.

      It might not have been a great year, but we certainly had our fair
share of the astonishing and the ridiculous to keep us entertained, even as
the country hurtled towards disaster.

      Congratulations to all the award winners, we'll see what you're up to
in the new year.

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Mugabe resignation deal being considered

Harare - Mediators working to end Zimbabwe's political crisis said on Sunday
ruling party and opposition officials have been considering a deal that
would lead to President Robert Mugabe's resignation and the formation of a
power-sharing government.

Two of the ruling party's most powerful figures, Parliament speaker Emmerson
Mnangagwa and General Vitalis Zvinavashe, chief of staff of the armed
forces, presented a deal to mediators that would include Mugabe's retirement
in hopes of regaining international legitimacy for Zimbabwe's government and
renewed aid and investment during a period of transitional rule, the
mediators said.

The mediators, fearing allegations of treason if the deal collapses, said
assurances Mugabe would step down were conveyed to the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change.

A power-sharing government would try to end an economic meltdown that has
sent inflation soaring, caused a massive fuel shortage and left at least
half Zimbabwe's population on the verge of starvation.

Mugabe, who led the nation to independence in 1980, won a new six-year term
in elections last March that independent observers said were deeply flawed.
The MDC, along with Britain, the European Union and the United States, have
refused to accept results, saying voting was rigged and influenced by
violence and intimidation.

The early retirement of Mugabe, once seen as a towering African statesman,
has long seemed inconceivable.


MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai confirmed receiving the offer and, in a
departure from recent opposition policy, told the AP his party's lawmakers
were ready to vote with the ruling party for a constitutional amendment
allowing the creation of a caretaker government once Mugabe stepped down.

Any agreement would include guarantees of immunity for Mugabe (78) from
prosecution over alleged misrule and human rights violations during his 23
years in power, Tsvangirai said.

Ruling party officials were unavailable for comment on Sunday.

There has been no word on an offer from Mugabe himself, who was scheduled to
head home from a two-week vacation that included a trip to Thailand. He is
expected to return to his office on Monday.

His absence as the nation faced food and gasoline shortages has fanned harsh
criticism at home.

Circumstances dictate behaviour

The MDC has repeatedly called for Mugabe to go on trial.

"Regrettably, we may have said that. It may have been a position.
Circumstances dictate behaviour. The country is on its knees. If people are
asked to make that sacrifice of giving him immunity, and to say, 'Let's
forget the past and move forward,' let it be. We have more to lose by
getting bogged down until the country collapses and more to gain by saying
this is a hurdle we have overcome," Tsvangirai said.

Over the past three years, Mugabe's government has seized most of the
nation's thousands of white-owned commercial farms, calling it a justified
struggle by landless blacks to correct colonial era injustices that left 4
000 whites with one-third of the nation's farm land.

Farming disruptions and poor rains have led to the food crisis and coupled
with political chaos and the government's increasing isolation, have led to
acute shortages of hard currency and essential imports.

"There is wide consensus Mugabe is the problem and national and party
dialogue must begin. Colleagues have shifted the blame onto him and he must
accept the consequences," said one mediator who spoke on condition on

Under the constitution, new elections must be held within 90 days of the
president leaving office.

Tsvangirai said his party was prepared to support a parliamentary vote for a
constitutional amendment "to vary that period" until conditions for fresh
elections were suitable.

"If they are talking of two years or 18 months, that now is subject to
specific negotiations," he said.

The MDC had previously demanded independently supervised elections after six
months of any transitional rule.

Tsvangirai said he had not received "categoric assurances" from the full
ruling party leadership that Mugabe would resign.

"I can only go as far as to say as far as Mnangagwa and Zvinavashe were
concerned, it's part of the deal," he said.

"It is obvious Mugabe has become a liability to his party and the nation as
a whole," Tsvangirai said.

The MDC would not insist Mugabe go into exile, he said. - Sapa-AP
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Aussie-tourist's attacker arrested

Harare - Police in Zimbabwe have arrested a man in connection with the
murder last week of an Australian tourist in the resort town of Victoria
Falls, the state-controlled Sunday Mail reported.

Twenty-seven-year-old Peter Stafford was stabbed to death last Saturday in
an attack government officials said could have been an attempt to tarnish
Zimbabwe's reputation ahead of the cricket World Cup.

The Sunday Mail said the suspect was a resident of Victoria Falls and was
found with some property belonging to the tourist. Detectives believe there
was more than one attacker.

Contradicting earlier suggestions, the paper quoted police chief Augustine
Chihuri as saying the murder "has nothing to do with politics."

"It is a straightforward criminal act by a gang we suspect wanted to rob the
tourist of property," Chihuri told the paper.

Zimbabwe is due to host six of the 54 World Cup cricket matches, and the
attack heightened fears over the security of visitors to the southern
African country. - Sapa-AFP

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Zim Standard

      US shuns Zimbabwe
      By Kumbirai Mafunda

      THE absence of genuine democratic values continues to impact
negatively on Zimbabwe as the impoverished country once again finds itself
excluded from the benefits of the US African Growth and Opportunity Act
(Agoa) which offers trade preferences to sub-Saharan African countries.

      The Act, which was signed by former US President Bill Clinton in May
2000, is regarded as a 'road map' by which the US and Africa can tap the
power of their markets in order to improve the lives of their citizens.

      However, since the inception of Agoa in 2000, Zimbabwe has been mired
in political and economic crisis and has thus been denied the opportunity of
exploring the US markets.

      Ironically, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a country where
Zimbabwe spent a fortune propping up late dictator Laurent Kabila, will this
year, benefit from Agoa, together with Gambia.

      In a statement, a White House spokesman said these countries, among
other beneficiaries, had made considerable progress towards a market based
economy and had pursued economic policies that focussed on poverty reduction
and the rule of law.

      "As required by the legislation, this annual determination signifies
which countries are making continued progress toward a market-based economy,
the rule of law, free trade, economic policies that will reduce poverty, and
protection of workers rights," said the spokesman.

      The addition of the two countries comes ahead of the second Agoa forum
which kicks off tomorrow in Mauritius and where special emphasis will be on
promoting trade and investment in sub Saharan Africa.

      Among the sub Saharan African countries benefiting from Agoa are:
South Africa, Zambia, Mozambique, Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho, Tanzania,
Nigeria, Uganda and Namibia.
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Zim Standard

      Mugabe fiddles as country burns
      newsfocus By our own Staff

      AS Zimbabwe totters on the brink of a political and economic
precipice, President Robert Mugabe has chosen to take his annual vacation,
leaving ailing Vice President Simon Muzenda in charge of the country.

      Mugabe, together wi-th his children and his wife Grace, are living it
up in Thailand, a land renowned for its deluxe tropical resorts and the
thrill of exploring the fresh sights of the famed Mekong lands.

      Tourism experts say Thailand, which lies at the heart of South East
Asia, provides an ideal healing place for tormented souls with its beautiful
tropical beaches and off-shore islands.

      Visitors can enjoy a soothing trip along the Chao Phraya River while
those with a penchant for shopping like First Lady Grace, can take a jaunt
to the Chatuchak weekend market, a famous Bangkok landmark where everything
is available-from clothing to beautiful plants.

      Mugabe is in Thailand with a number of his ministers as well as
business executives from this country, who according to the state media, are
there to do a follow up on Mugabe's unsuccessful 2001 initiative aimed at
wooing Thai investors to Zimbabwe.

      Many Zimbabweans who spoke to The Standard felt that no responsible
leader would have chosen to go on leave at this particular point in time, or
worse still, embarked on a foreign trip likely to further deplete the
country's foreign currency reserves.

      From Thailand, Mugabe and his entourage will pass through Singapore
and Malaysia, two of the few countries where he is still welcome.

      Many believe that instead of embarking on his favourite pass time of
globe trotting which they had hoped they had seen the end of following the
biting travel sanctions imposed by the EU and USA, he should be here at home
making a determined effort to solve the country's problems.

      Addressing delegates at the Zanu PF Conference in Chinhoyi in
December, Mugabe promised to personally intervene in the fuel crisis to
ensure that his fuel deal with the Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi,
would be resuscitated.

      He also gave an undertaking that his government would try to import
enough grain to feed the country, so as to ward off the starvation that
threatens over six million people.

      Although admitting that it was Mugabe's right to take annual leave,
angry Zimbabweans told The Standard that he should have postponed it until
such a time as the situation had normalised in the country, or if he really
felt the need to rest, should have simply taken time off at his rural home
in Zvimba.

      "Ever heard of a chief executive who goes on leave and blows company
funds when his company is facing liquidation? That would be irresponsible
behaviour which would invite the wrath of the shareholders," said a Harare
motorist as he pushed his vehicle to a crowded filling station in Belvedere,
hoping to obtain the elusive liquid.

      Other motorists said they wondered what was going on in Mugabe's mind
as he relaxed in the splendour of the Far East with Grace.

      "I strongly feel the couple (Mugabe and Grace) are saying to each
other: Nhamo yemumwe hairegerwi sadza," another motorist added.

      Veteran nationalist James Chikerema, who is a relative of Mugabe's
said the president's actions were simply a reflection of what we've known
all along-that he has become irrelevant to Zimbabwe.

      "Uncle, Mugabe has gone bonkers. Deep down, he knows he can no longer
serve the country or do anything for the suffering masses. He is now as good
as not being there anymore, that's why he can afford to go on leave while
the country burns," he said.

      Other Zimbabweans who spoke to The Standard said even though Muzenda,
the acting president, might have his own ideas-if al all-about solving the
country's nagging problems, past experience had shown that no concrete
decision could be made by the 80-year-old politician in the absence of

      "We know it for a fact that it is Mugabe alone who holds the reigns
and so government is in limbo until he comes back," said Davis Mvura of

      However, Patrick Nya-ruwata, the interim chairman of the Zimbabwe
National Liberation War Veterans' Association defended Mugabe's decision to
go on vacation saying as a human being, he deserved a rest.

      "If his leave is due, he should take it. We have no problems with
that. People should understand that every person has the right to take
leave. We wonder who these people are who are saying Mugabe should not take
up his leave. They must be MDC people," he said.
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Zim Standard

      Zanu PF sells maize on black market
      By Cynthia Mahwite

      BULAWAYO- Government's efforts to stamp out the country's black market
will not succeed unless senior Zanu PF and government officials move away
from the parallel market, some disgruntled ruling party activists have said.

      The activists who declined to be named for security reasons, said it
was a well known fact in Bulawayo that some senior Zanu PF officials were
fuelling the black market by hoarding maize and then selling it at
exorbitant prices.

      They alleged that Matabeleland North governor Obert Mpofu, among other
senior officials, was hoarding mealie meal and reselling it, and therefore
defeating the efforts to stamp out the black market.

      "The governor is selling mealie-meal from his home at an inflated
rate, and this defeats the entire purpose of banning the millers because he
is no different from them," said the activists.

      Jabulani Sibanda, the chairman of the Zanu PF Bulawayo province
confirmed that there were problems in the distribution of food and that many
of the needy people were failing to benefit.

      "I can't comment on individual cases but what I can say is that
something is not correct in the manner in which maize is being distributed.
They (Mpofu and Livingstone Mashengele, the provincial administrator) are
the people in charge of food distribution and it is not for me to say
whether or not anyone is hoarding maize," he said.

      Approached for a comment, Governor Mpofu who is currently on leave,
stated that he was not at liberty to talk to the press.

      "Isn't there anyone in the office you can talk to. Can't you respect
my privacy? I do not want to appear in the paper when I am on leave," he

      Mushengele told The Standard that reports about the hoarding of maize
by officials could not have been made to his office since he was one of the

      "Naturally, complainants will not come to this office as they will
think they are reporting to the alleged culprits. What surprises me is that
we are not in charge of the distribution of maize so I can't imagine how we
could have diverted maize for hoarding. What I know is that people are
failing to receive maize because of the inadequate deliveries," he said.

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Zim Standard

      Mugabe regime gets more repressive: Sas Mudzuri and 21 others are
      By our own Staff

      IN a move that analysts say signals the country's slide into a police
state, ZRP yesterday raided Mabvuku Hall and disrupted a civic meeting
before arresting Harare mayor, Elias Mudzuri, and council officials who were
explaning to residents the truth surrounding the crippling water crisis
gripping the city.

      About 500 residents who had turned for the meeting to hear the
council's position in the wake of incessant propaganda spewed by the state
media against Mudzuri, were not spared as they were ordered out of the hall
and made to squat outside the hall for over an hour under the watchful eye
of heavily armed police.

      They were only released after their identity particulars were recorded
by the police.

      Mudzuri and five council officials were forcemarched to Mabvuku police
station where they were charged under the draconian Public Order and
Security Act (POSA) and later taken to Harare Central Police station were
they were still locked up at the time of going to press.

      Among those arrested were deputy mayoress, Sekesai Makwavarara and
three councillors, Falls Nhari, Benjamin Maimba and Oscar Pemhiwa. Harare
deputy director of housing, James Chiyangwa, was also arrested together with
17 other residents.

      Beatrice Mtetwa, Mudzuri's lawyer said: "They have been charged under
section 25 of POSA. Police say the mayor did not have permission to address
the residents. We wonder how he can work when they are trying to stop him
from carrying out legitimate council business."

      She added: "The mayor is suffering from high blood pressure and we
have sent someone to his home to collect his medication because we do not
know how long he will stay in police custody."

      Residents of Mabvuku who were in the hall when it was stormed by the
police told The Standard that the police acted in a manner that was
unbecoming of a professional force.

      "We actually wondered what was going on. Heavily armed policemen just
stormed into the hall and shut all the doors. We had to switch on the lights
to see what was happened since the whole place was plunged into darkness.

      "The policemen then told Mudzuri and his officials to move out as they
were under arrest. Mudzuri protested that he was on council property and so
did not require their permission but they ignored him. They pushed Mudzuri
outside where they manhandled him, trying to bundle him into a Defender
truck. Mudzuri argued that he had every reason to go to the station in his
official car. When the police realised they could be courting unnecessary
trouble, they allowed him to go in his car," said one elderly man who had
just been released by the police.

      Another resident said their actions showed Zanu PF did not want Harare
residents to know the truth about who was to blame for the water crisis.

      "They know that if Mudzuri is allowed to tell the residents the truth,
they will know that it's Zanu PF which is to blame for the crisis, and so
they would rather arrest him before he explains his side of the story," she

      When The Standard arrived at the station yesterday evening, police
were maintaining a heavy guard at the entrance and were not allowing anyone
to enter. Mudzuri's car was parked inside, heavily guarded by anti-riot

      "Whether you want to report a case or not, you can't get in," was the
response of a policeman guarding the entrance.

      The arrest of Mudzuri comes a few days after police quashed a
demonstration against Minister of Local Government and National Housing,
Ignatious Chombo, who is accused of interfering with council operations.

      For the past few weeks, the state media has stepped up a crude
propaganda campaign to discredit Mudzuri, a campaign analysts say signals
that the Zanu PF government is ready to do anything possible to remove
Mudzuri from office.

      Already Chombo has appointed a five-member commission tasked with
"helping" run the affairs of the council. Chombo has done the same in
Chegutu where Francis Dhlakama of the opposition MDC is mayor.
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Sunday Times (SA)

Hey, Big Spender

Mugabe's spin doctor stocks up on food in SA as millions starve at home.
By Mzilikazi Wa Africa

Zimbabwe's propaganda chief, Jonathan Moyo, spent nearly two weeks in South
Africa on a holiday shopping spree while millions of his countrymen face

The controversial minister of information, who wants to be the next
president of Zimbabwe, booked into the Mercure Hotel in Bedfordview from
December 27 to January 8 with four children and his wife, Betty.

While there, he went on a shopping spree - surrounded by his bodyguards -
and bought thousands of rands worth of food to take home to Zimbabwe, where
more than two-thirds of the population of 11.6 million are desperate for
something to eat.

It was just one year ago that Moyo, referring to South Africa, said: "It is
you people who have Mandela squatter camps all over the place, not us. In
fact, the average black person in Zimbabwe is better off than the average
black person in South Africa."

He bought a big-screen TV and a home theatre system. When he ran out of
packing space in his luxury vehicles - a Pajero (registration number
752-098X), a Mercedes-Benz car (registration 752-082E) and a bakkie - Moyo
filled a trailer (registration HYF 394 GP) with cooking oil, canned food ,
rice, sugar, mealie meal, polony, macaroni and bread.

Just days before Moyo's shopping jaunt, Zimbabweans were bracing themselves
for a miserable Christmas without basic goods like fuel, milk and fruit.
They are forced to queue for hours just to buy a loaf of bread.

The Sunday Times booked into a room in the Mercure Hotel directly opposite
rooms 804 and 806, where Moyo's family were staying .

H is bodyguards and children were seen packing groceries into the vehicles
on Tuesday afternoon and again at 4.20am on Wednesday before leaving at dawn
to go home.

After Moyo had departed, escorted by bodyguards, the Sunday Times went
inside room 806 and found five staff cleaning up the mess.

The family had been enjoying appetising holiday takeaways. Bits of uneaten
food were lying on the floor. Empty bottles of beer were scattered about and
at least four unopened dumpies of Moyo's favourite beer had been left
behind. Two trolleys were needed to remove the garbage.

The leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, Morgan
Tsvangirai, said he was horrified.

"This man has no shame at all. He goes to South Africa to buy his food while
Zimbabweans are struggling to buy salt and bread.

"Where did he get the foreign currency when we do not have any in Zimbabwe?
[President] Robert Mugabe is ordering food from London and Moyo is shopping
in South Africa. These people are hypocrites."

The Sunday Times tried repeatedly to reach Moyo, calling his office, his
cellphone, the Zimbabwean high commission - and even Mugabe's office.

A secretary said: "Professor Moyo is on leave and cannot be reached as he is
in his rural village where there are no telephones. His cellphone is

Zimbabwean government spokesman Knox Zenglu said: "I am told he has gone to
his home village and there are no telephones there. I am sorry, there is
nothing we can do for you."

Attempts to reach George Charamba, head of Zimbabwe's Communication
Department, and Zimbabwe's High Commissioner in South Africa, Simon Moyo,
were also unsuccessful.
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Scotland on Sunday

Zimbabwe descends into chaos


AS THE row continues to rage whether the England cricket team should play
some of its World Cup matches in Zimbabwe, a black joke is doing the rounds
which goes like this: the country has the highest IQs - I queue for bread, I
queue for fuel, I queue for cash.

Economists estimate inflation will be more than 500% this year but that
forecast could prove an underestimate. Zimbabwe's standard currency, the
redbacked $500 bill, is known colloquially as a Ferrari, because it goes so

Last month there was a crisis in the central bank because it could not keep
up with demand for money and long queues started to form outside the banks.
The problem is that the government refuses to acknowledge that a problem
exists and simply prints banknotes with larger denominations.

The truth is that the country is not in economic difficulties. It is not in
decline. It is not in crisis. It is in freewheeling collapse.

At the time of independence, just 23 years ago, the Zimbabwe dollar traded
at better than parity to the US dollar. The official currency rate makes a
vain pretence that things have not changed too much. The rate in the banks
is ZM$55 to the US dollar. But the trade in the streets, carried about by
women members of a religious sect, tell a different story.

In November last year the parallel exchange rate in the streets stood at
ZM$1,000 to $1. Today, though it fluctuates wildly, it is hovering around
ZM$2,500. Once one of the most affluent economies in Africa, Zimbabwe's
citizens are forced, Weimar-Germany style, to carry around bags to
accommodate the amount of cash they need to pay for even their daily needs.

They are the lucky ones: they have the wherewithal to pay for goods. The
hyper-inflation has cut most Zimbabweans out of the economic loop altogether
and they have been forced to barter .

It is bordering on impossible to get petrol or diesel in Zimbabwe. Rumours
of a delivery of fuel at a petrol station causes a queue to form at once. It
soon stretches back for half a mile or more.

The country still has a good system of metalled roads, among the finest in
Africa. But it is possible to travel for hundreds of miles without seeing a
car, because of the absence of fuel. The problem is the shortage of foreign
exchange to pay for imported oil.

Thanks in part to President Mugabe's attack on commercial farming, until
recently a massive source of foreign earnings, foreign currency is not
available for the purchase of fuel; and Zimbabwe has no energy resources of
its own.

Zimbabwe can go for days with no fuel at all. The foreign exchange shortage
means that vital supplies no longer enter the country.

Clean water is now running out in the capital, Harare, the result of a
shortage of the chemicals necessary for the water purification process.
Essential foodstuffs are rarely available in the shops, though there is
still a lively trade in luxury goods.

There is a small but free-spending super-rich mafia class in Zimbabwe, all
connected to president Mugabe's Zanu-PF ruling party. They do well out of
the shortages and use the seized farms for genteel weekend retreats.

Gangsters flourish and, with them, conspicuous consumption. But the
professional middle class upon which Zimbabwe's historic prosperity was
founded is fleeing the country. In his budget speech last November finance
minister Hubert Murerwa revealed that 2,297 doctors and nurses had fled
Zimbabwe in the first nine months of 2002, a scary 25% of the total.

The main cause of the hyper-inflation is the near destruction of the
industries that used to earn hard currency: agriculture, tobacco, tourism
and mining.

Strict rules force local business to export at the official rate of ZM$55 to
$1, a fraction of the rate on the streets. Zanu-PF ministers and their
cronies often arbitrage the difference, creating a massive 2,500% personal
profit, enriching themselves but inflicting further harm on state finances.

Ironically, the fall in the currency means that Zimbabwe is now a
prodigiously cheap place to go on holiday. Given political stability,
Zimbabwe would be one of the great holiday destinations in the world, with
fabulous sights and great places to stay like the famous Victoria Falls
Hotel. But today the Victoria Falls is a ghost hotel and the local
population is in no position to take advantage of the opportunities on

This is how a businessman in Bulaweyo, the once prosperous second city in
Zimbabwe, describes the problem as it is today: "In the next fortnight,
business will face the task of reopening their factories under conditions
where they will not be able to keep their doors open for very long if they
obey the rules.

"If they are exporters they will find that virtually all their export
proceeds are being converted by their banks at the official exchange rates
and this will make all export activity totally unviable.

"They will then have to consider what to do - break the law and keep their
foreign earnings offshore or simply stop exporting - or do a deal with

"Already locally-manufactured products are very much more expensive than
they should be because of the huge premiums being paid in the market."

On top of these problems there is the price freeze. On the day before
Christmas a new notice came out listing hundreds of products whose prices
were deemed frozen.

The businessman continued: "In many cases the new prices are well below the
actual cost of production. In a bizarre operation the police are raiding
retailers throughout the country and imposing fines on them for selling
products above the controlled price even though the stock in question was
purchased at much higher prices and well before the festive season.

"Manufacturers have only three options: sell at the controlled price and go
bust; break the law and tell the authorities to take them to court; or to do
a deal.

"In the latter case it's always with a shadowy group of business people
linked with Zanu-PF and having good relations with those in positions of
authority. Then problems with foreign exchange and price control disappear
and the business starts functioning again. The list of such deals grows
daily and includes many of the best known names."

Unemployment in the urban areas stands at 70%, and rising. Zimbabwe is
reverting at appalling speed to a pre-industrial and primitive economy.

No modern political leader, operating within peacetime conditions, can ever
have engineered such a precipitous collapse in a fundamentally prosperous
economy within such a short space of time as President Mugabe.

In normal circumstances a government that created this kind of economic
dislocation would fall. But Mugabe is using the looming famine as a means of
terrorising the population, punishing his political opponents and staying in

It is easy to identify the vehicle Mugabe has chosen for this evil act: it
is called the Grain Marketing Board (GMB). Only the GMB may import,
distribute or market maize. While in Zimbabwe, in early November, I looked
at its massive silos in Bulaweyo. From there maize is sent to approved
millers, all under Zanu-PF control

These millers then convert the maize to 'meallie meal' - the subsistence
food of the people - and sell it on at wholesale prices to local ward
councillors (when I was in Zimbabwe the wholesale price stood at ZM$240 per
20 kilo).

These councillors then organise a distribution point in each ward, selling
it on to local people at a 20% mark up (in early November the price at these
distribution centres was ZM$300).

ZM$300, depending on the exchange rate, equates to a about 15p. But the
average wage of a working man is only ZM$7,000 a month.

This process is abused at every stage. The millers themselves are threatened
by freelance Zanu-PF thugs, who force them to sell the meallie meal at cost,
then make giant profits by taking the meallie meal onto the open market.

I witnessed Zanu-PF thugs selling meallie meal at ZM$1,000 or more per 20
kilo, prices far outside the pockets of most ordinary people but
representing a threefold profit for Zanu-PF bandits. In most of the country,
the only way to get hold of meallie meal is by paying these inflated prices,
far beyond the pockets of ordinary people.

While in the Beitbridge area of southern Zimbabwe I witnessed mass
starvation. Noticeably, one little shop, the River Ranch Store, was always
full of meallie meal. It belonged to Kembo Mohadi, the Beitbridge MP and
Mugabe's home affairs minister.

It was a menacing little place, full of young Zanu-PF drinking beer. But the
storeroom was loaded with perhaps 500 bulging sacks of meallie meal at
ZM$900 apiece. I was told that the minister concerned educated his daughter
at a private school in Australia. This was the reverse side of the
starvation: a small group of gangster ministers making a fortune out of the

Nor is the outlook anything other than bleak. Here is a hardened local
observer on the immediate outlook: "Whilst we have had about a third of our
normal rainfall, in many areas - especially here in the south of the
country - the falls have been light and spaced by hot dry weather.

"I think we can now predict with some confidence that the southern half of
the country will not reap any significant food crops this year unless they
are irrigated. In the north, things have been a bit better; but we still
face the reality that very little has been planted and what is in the ground
is pretty pathetic.

"I doubt if we will in fact produce more than we grew last season - about
500,000 tonnes of grain over all. If this is the case then we are faced with
the need to continue importing grain right through until June 2004.

"Not just grain but oilseed or vegetable oils, fats and wheat. Unlike last
year when we had ample stored water, this winter, unless it pours with rain
from now on, will see real shortages of stored water across the country."

Even official government figures in last November's budget predict that the
economy will contract by over 10% this year . Zimbabwe now faces economic
circumstances more catastrophic than the Weimar Republic in its dying days
or Russia in 1917.

In these circumstances, violent social disturbance is inevitable. The wonder
is that it has not come sooner. The reaction of Zanu-PF when it finally
breaks out does not bear contemplation.

Many people suspect Mugabe is hoping for street violence, so that he can
unleash the full weight of the murderous state apparatus and his trained
Zanu-PF thugs on his enemies.

When he does that, the Matabeleland massacres of the mid-1980s may seem a
mild, inconsequential affair. Zimbabwe may be facing something more terrible
even than starvation and economic disaster.

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The Guardian

Do the right thing

Don't go there

Kevin Mitchell
Sunday January 12, 2003
The Observer

England's opening match in the World Cup goes ahead as scheduled on
Wednesday, 13 February, in Zimbabwe. Late in the afternoon ticketless
pro-democracy Zimbabwean demonstrators outside the ground become
increasingly restless. Then a shot is fired and people run in all
directions. Several spectators, including some England supporters, are
The game is abandoned and England leave Harare under armed guard for South
Africa on the first available plane. Robert Mugabe declares a state of
emergency. Nobody notices much difference...

Everyoone hopes that none of this happens. But nobody can guarantee it
won't - and that is why England should not travel to Harare next month. The
Foreign Office believes that the situation in Zimbabwe is becoming more
volatile by the day. Nobody can be sure of the consequences of walking into
such a cauldron.

Scaremongering? Not if you listen to the whispered fears of Zimbabweans who
are daily subjected to indiscriminate harassment, many of whom who live in
fear of arrest and torture, who spend much of their time now looking for
food, not tickets to the cricket.

Some of them say the people will not rise up, that they are cowed by the
fierceness of the security services. A very few say cricket might be the one
joy to light up their lives. But we will never know for sure what the
majority or even minority view is because they are not allowed to freely and
openly register those opinions.

And still, away from the tumult that is Zimbabwe, the arguments about human
rights, about morality and about that dirtiest of concepts, politics, do not
always figure prominently in some salons of debate. These issues are proving
an irritant to cricket administrators who say it is none of their business.
It is not that they don't care, they say, but that they have no authority to
withdraw from the Zimbabwe section of the World Cup on anything other than
safety and security grounds.

Quite how they imagined Zimbabwe slid into a state where safety and security
were not guaranteed automatically is not their brief. Such is their sad
mantra, approved by lawyers.

Farmers who sleep with guns, their workers with no prospect of jobs and
journalists who risk prison or deportation for voicing these concerns will
tell the cricket bosses that all their mandated considerations - loss of
revenue, loss of face, loss of points - hardly stack up against the possible
loss of life.

Pro-tourists say other regimes are as bad, but the world plays them at
sport. They say singling out Zimbabwe is inconsistent. They say if we
applied a strict moral code around the world, a host of repressive regimes
would have to be isolated. The trouble with this argument is it sounds
disturbingly reminiscent of the ones put forward by those people who also
objected to the boycott of apartheid-era South Africa.

What makes the Zimbabwe dilemma impossibly complicated is the number of
organisations, political and sporting, involved in the process - every last
one of them seeking to shift the responsibility for the final decision on to
someone else. How did cricket get itself in such a mess and how does it
reach what might laughingly be called a solution?

The chief cause of the problem is the deep-rooted belief of sports
administrators everywhere that they have no right nor obligation to
interfere in the activities of an allegedly sovereign state.

The England and Wales Cricket Board argued last week that the Government was
being loose with the truth when it said it warned them in July about the
possibility of trouble in Zimbabwe. They needed warning? When Australia
cancelled their tour there in July, surely someone at Lord's (where the
International Cricket Council is also based) saw the smoke. What else have
they had to do since their meeting with Foreign Office officials?

As for the ICC, they said as recently as Boxing Day they were satisfied with
security in Zimbabwe. Really? That security is in the hands of people who
have either been involved in the killing of innocent people or have silently
condoned the murders. The ICC are hiding behind the oldest skirt in the
business, the law, and should reconsider.

Stuck in the middle, not for the first time, are the players. But, unlike
the rebel tourists to South Africa, who went in the full knowledge that what
they were doing was frowned upon and would lead to penalties, the current
players are going on a tour that, as of now, is sanctioned.

The one player to articulate the players' problems most succinctly has been
Nasser Hussain. For the second time in a fortnight the England captain last
week called for the decision-makers to 'stop faffing around'.

I get the impression Hussain is not keen to go. He said during the Fourth
Test in Melbourne that the loss of two points or revenue should not even be
a consideration when placed alongside the wider concerns. And on Friday he
repeated: 'I'm not naive. You can't just bury your head in the sand and say,
"Oh, we're just cricketers."

'I keep saying it but we have to do the right thing, everywhere we go we're
ambassadors for our country, me especially as England captain.'

What he wants is guidance. Yet he is getting precious little. No doubt
Hussain personally has acquainted himself with as much information coming
out of Zimbabwe as is possible for a captain on tour thousands of miles from
the place of unrest. Several others might also have run their eye over the
foreign pages.

None will feel compelled to make an individual moral statement, because they
don't think that way. Their sensibilities are shaped in the team ethic.
Their captain, at least, wants them to know the facts. Should he be the one
to make that moral statement for them, to give them the lead and refuse to

Despite assurances from David Morgan, chairman of the ECB, that any such
gesture by a player would not affect his employment with the board, you know
it would not exactly cement his place in the team.

There are precious few instances of a player making any such higher
statement. John Taylor pulled out of a rugby tour of South Africa many years
ago, but who else has there been?

It would be asking a lot of Hussain to do so. Too much, probably. But he is
doing everything else he can think of to inject some moral responsibility
into a situation that is shamefully short of it.

· You've read the piece, now have your say. Email your comments, be as frank
as you like, we can take it, to or mail
the Observer direct at
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Daily Telegraph

ICC to let England off the hook over Zimbabwe
By Scyld Berry  (Filed: 12/01/2003)

A second delegation which the ICC are ready to send to Zimbabwe in the next
fortnight are likely to find the face-saving formula which prevents England
from playing their World Cup opener there next month.

While the ECB are expected to confirm at their management board meeting on
Tuesday that England will play in Harare on Feb 13, in spite of any player
misgivings, the ICC are likely to find that the security situation in
Zimbabwe has deteriorated to the point where they can say it is not safe for
the players to go.

As Malcolm Gray, the president of the ICC, remarked in Hobart on Friday: "If
a safety issue overtakes the political issue, that may solve the problem" -
for everyone except the starving people of Zimbabwe, that is.

ECB chairman David Morgan, when asked what his reaction would be if a second
ICC delegation found Zimbabwe to be safe, replied "pass". But in such an
event the ECB would obviously be delighted at being let off the hook:
England would then not play in Zimbabwe, in accordance with the Government's
wishes, and there would be no financial penalties for the ECB to pay.

After talking to some of the England players while on his visit to Hobart,
Morgan also said: "I've heard nothing that indicates widespread disquiet
[about going to Zimbabwe]." Yet it was apparent from England's deflated
performance yesterday, when the buoyancy following their Sydney Test win had
gone, that the board's handling of the affair continues to grate with
players who do not appreciate being told by their employers to disobey their

At a press briefing, Morgan presented the board's belief that England should
play in Zimbabwe as primarily a moral argument, not a commercial one as
previously. But this argument - that the unity of the family of cricket
should be the overriding concern - is a thin one. The welfare of a sport can
hardly be rated more important than the survival of a people.

If the deteriorating security situation in Zimbabwe - with food riots
starting to break out even among government supporters - does allow the ICC
to call off the six World Cup matches there and transfer them to South
Africa, the ECB will consider they have won a difficult game.

But in accordance with its historic role as the first tool of diplomacy in
Commonwealth affairs, English cricket had the opportunity to set the ball
rolling, as it did in the boycotting of apartheid South Africa: what cricket
did today, other sports would have done tomorrow, businesses in a few years'
time and eventually governments. The ECB may win the game but lose the

India's players have signed a disputed participation contract before
Tuesday's ICC deadline, but doubts remain about whether they will compete in
the World Cup.

The Indian board announced yesterday that all 15 squad members had signed
up, but were still unhappy about some terms involving ambush marketing and
player image clauses in the contract and inserted some qualifications.
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Zim Standard - Comment

      Sport and politics are husband and wife

      THE Cricket World Cup, which takes place mostly in South Africa but
with six matches being held in Zimbabwe, has once again emphasised the
extent to which this country has become a pariah state within the
international community.

      It breaks our hearts to see a country which held so much promise
politically, economically, culturally and diplomatically become the subject
of intense debate and controversy-for the wrong reasons.

      In the normal course of things, sport-any sport-affords harmless
amusement to participants and spectators alike, a valuable chance for
ballyhoo to the nation which holds them. It is an opportunity for different
nations to come together and enjoy their humanity and camaraderie, and to
say "we are the world". It is a chance to show that although we have
different cultures, we act as one, playing out the belief that this world is
round and that no country can be an island complete unto itself.

      The fact that the England and Wales Cricket Board has been put under
immense pressure by the British government to boycott the 13 February game
in Harare as a show of opposition to President Mugabe's leadership, clearly
demonstrate how, since time immemorial, politics and sport have been blood
brothers in international relations. It is not for nothing that at any major
sporting event, national anthems are invariably played. It is the height of
lunacy to try to separate sport from politics.

      It is against this background that sport has been used from time to
time as a political weapon in international relations. The point must be
made, however, that there has been no international ban on sporting contacts
with Zimbabwe as yet, but that does not preclude countries making clear and
unambiguous stands on rogue nations violating every facet of human decency.

      For more than two years now, the majority of people in Zimbabwe have
suffered from poverty, hunger and injustice. In recent months, the degree of
poverty and hunger has become obscene and the injustice intolerable.

      Of course, there are strongly held differences of opinion on whether
to boycott or not but in the hour of Zimbabwe's extremity, we want the whole
world to show displeasure and disgust at what is happening in this country
by boycotting the Cricket World Cup in the country. It is an exceedingly
mild weapon in view of the powers of darkness against which it is used. The
Cricket World Cup is a very significant, high profile event and a boycott
might just send the right message, even if the message falls on deaf ears.

      But if the play goes ahead because of very serious legal and financial
effects on English cricket, then the International Cricket Council (ICC)
must seek guarantees from the Zimbabwean government about the right of the
international media to go beyond cricket-related issues and report
everything they see. Journalists coming here must have the freedom to go
anywhere, and at anytime, to interview people and observe the reality on the

      Authentic voices will not be heard from the hotels that loom large on
the Harare and Bulawayo landscapes-hotels which are visible to people who
earn in a year what it costs the journalists one night there.

      They must move away from reporting on things superficially and go
beneath the surface, and talk to as many ordinary people as they can, so
that they reduce the chances of being misled. The appalling tragedy that is
currently consuming Zimbabwe must continually be exposed to the rest of the
world. Hunger and starvation is taking a heavy toll on Zimbabweans.

      There is, of course, no genocide in Zimbabwe, but the obvious
injustices and absurdities of the system that is being promoted by President
Mugabe and his ruling Zanu PF party must constantly be told to the outside
world. Life under the rule of Mugabe has become a nightmare for the majority
of Zimbabweans. The International Cricket Council and the journalists who
will descend on the country in the event of this high-profile event taking
place here must not use cricket to bolster up official propaganda and

      We know that the Zanu PF government would want to give the impression
that there is no crisis in Zimbabwe and that the country is happy and
functioning well. That is a false picture and the visiting journalists must
not bless these lies.

      Zimbabwe is a country in great difficulties and its people are hungry
and starving. In the wake of widespread looting that went on the commercial
farms, nothing is really happening on the farms. The foreign journalists-if
they do come-must move out of Harare and Bulawayo, venues for the cricket
matches, and witness events in the countryside. There, they will become more
aware of the crisis and the economic calamity that has hit this country very

      In closing, we must emphasise that as Zimbabweans, we do not look to
Britain or Australia for our salvation. The burden of solving our own
problems falls on us. This is why we continue to hang in there and fight
using any weapon at our disposal including sport.

      But, of course, we need outside help and support. There is something
to be said for countries such as South Africa, Britain, USA, Australia, SADC
and the rest of the international community being on the side of those
fighting for freedom, justice and reconciliation in Zimbabwe. This is what
the international sporting fraternity, including sporting personalities in
this country, must understand and appreciate.

      Until Zimbabwe returns to the rule of law, freedom of the press,
economic rationality and a free and fair competitive political system, all
Zimbabweans, including the Heath Streaks and Peter Chingokas of this world,
must expect sport to be used as a political weapon.

      Otherwise, sports boycotts against our country will continue to be a
subject of intense interest and controversy in the international community.
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Zim Standard

      Another promise of better viewing from Dead BC
      What's on air By Peter Moyo

      DEAD BC's meeting last week, with entertainment journalists, mostly
from the private media, was perhaps a good start to the year.

      It went a long way towards clearing the air and the mistrust that
characterised last year's relationship. For Standard Plus, it was an
opportunity to come face to face with those who in 2002, declared the paper
an unofficial enemy, refusing it permission to interview popular
personalities whom viewers and readers wanted to know more about.

      Dead BC's public relations office should be applauded for organising
such a meeting. Chief executive officer, Munyaradzi Hwengwere, Susan Makore
(head of Kidznet) Abigail Mvududu (radio and TV head) and Christina
Taruvinga, (editor-in-chief), were among those who attended. If what they
promised is anything to go by, viewers can look forward to much better
viewing but, given earlier promises which went unfulfilled, many will take
the promises with a generous pinch of salt.

      Viewers can expect a new soap, Fragments, in early February. It is to
be produced by John Phiri and King Dube. The comedy, Waiters, will also make
a welcome return. Other programmes are expected after the meeting between
Dead BC and the independent producers group scheduled for early February.
The meeting could pave the way for quality programmes as independent
producers compete against each other.

      We hope that by the end of the year, we will have sufficient reason to
stop referring to the troubled corporation as Dead BC, but don't count on
it. Dead BC has invited the cooperation of independent producers before but
viewing did not change for the better. If anything, standards continued to
plummet and the biggest challenge now facing the station is to extricate
itself from the jaws of the propaganda-spewing Taliban PF, so it can act as
a national rather than a party broadcaster.

      Back to normal business. The first week of the viewing year opened
with more bungling. Last Monday's episode of the comedy, My Wife And Kids,
was supposed to have been a continuation of the previous week's one, but as
has become the tradition, someone went to sleep and a new episode was
introduced. Viewers who had looked forward to the continuation were not
amused and immediately got on the phone.

      Said one viewer from Warren Park: "That was a bad joke. We waited for
a week, only for some insensitive amateur to mess things up. If they did not
have the second part, surely they should not have shown the first?"

      The Denny J show is a potentially good programme but at the moment,
lacks experienced staff. The first person that should be replaced is the
cameraman as he fails to capture the most interesting shots. Denny J should
also attend an orientation course so he can know exactly what to do on
camera. A script would certainly add quality and sequence to the programme,
while locations are very important and need to be chosen carefully.

      Did you watch poor bespectacled Leo Mugabe, who excelled at ruining
the country's favourite game, as he left the Zifa Council meeting shortly
after being booted out? Soccer fans thought they would never see such a day
but there he was, looking crestfallen as he wearily packed his bag and waved
goodbye, his shoulders sagging in a defeatist manner.

      We wonder if his uncle and the country's president, Robert Mugabe, who
has run the economy aground, was watching. If so, what was going through his
mind? Food for thought.

      But the comments of Charles Mabika, the veteran football commentator,
were pertinent: "...anybody can bend the constitution and use it to their
own advantage..." he said.

      Sanctimonious Tazzen Mandizvidza's Media Watch predictably got off to
a bad start, this year. After bashing the independent media, Tazzen
interviewed the president of the National Association of Freelance
Journalists (NAFJ), Joe Kwaramba, whose journalistic credentials are
questionable, to say the least.

      It was a study on how to ask puerile questions as docile Tazzen
allowed Kwaramba, who clearly had no idea of what he was talking about, to
waffle on ad nauseum. Inadvertently, Kwaramba only managed to expose his
woeful lack of eloquence and his poor grasp of media issues.

      Female parliamentarians should be ashamed of their non-performance in
the august house. They have even failed to articulate issues to do with
women. While sanitary pads are a basic commodity for women, none of the
parliamentarians have expressed concern at their scarcity or the exorbitant
prices being charged for what is available.

      It took MP Saviour Kasukuwere to raise the issue last year, while just
last week, it was left to Moses Gumbo, a Dead BC reporter, to highlight the
issue. Is it because female parliamentarians can afford the cost of the
products, that they are not prepared to say anything, or is it that they
simply do not care?

      Chump of the week

      Sports administrator, Robert Mutsauki, takes our first chumpy accolade
for the year, for the way he excelled in the waffling department during a
Newshour interview. Mutsauki skirted around questions and in the process,
delivered a lot of high-sounding nonsense, much to the chagrin of news
anchor, Supa Mandiwanzira.

      Asked to briefly comment on those vying for the Zifa chairmanship,
Mutsauki said: "Let me focus on a few of them..." Supa, now bored with
Mutsauki's waffling ways, pleaded with him to do so "very quickly!" But
there was no stopping Mutsauki who instead of simply giving comments on
Temba Mliswa and Francis Zimunya who had announced their candidature, turned
the interview into a lecture.
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Zim Standard

      Chombo accused
      By Henry Makiwa

      DOUGHT Ndiweni, the ousted Zanu PF municipal councillor for Karoi, has
accused Ignatius Chombo, the minister of Local Government, Public Works and
National Housing, of presiding over the rampant corruption that has crippled
the town's operations.

      In October 2002, Ndiweni, a pharmacist by profession and the elected
councillor of Ward 7 as well as Norman Madzima of Ward 8, was barred from
participating in council business in a council coup led by the town
council's chairman and Zanu PF central committee member, David Mufunga.

      The two had levelled corruption charges at some senior council

      Ndiweni told The Standard last week that efforts to engage Chombo in
dialogue aimed at resolving the issue had been fruitless as the minister had
not responded to letters written to him.

      Ndiweni said: "We hoped Chombo would see reason and intervene in the
matter. We are the constitutionally elected councillors and it is clear to
all concerned residents of Karoi that we have not erred in a way that
warrants dismissal.

      "It is actually those who are barring us who should be ousted because
they are the ones who are corrupt. We may have no option but to take the
matter to court."

      Ndiweni and Madzima who were ordered to stop attending to council
business in October last year say they are being victimised for alleging,
among other things, the abuse of council funds by some senior officials.

      "We are confident that even if they were to call for a poll rerun we
would still emerge triumphant because we have the backing of the residents,"
Ndiweni said.

      This is the second time that the two have been ejected over what
Ndiweni described as "cooked up and unclear reasons".

      Chombo could not be reached for comment yesterday.
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Zim Standard

      Exam markers cry foul
      By Langton Nyakwenda

      ORDINARY and advanced level examination markers are being paid meagre
allowances by the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (ZIMSEC), raising
fears that this could affect the integrity of the results, The Standard has
learnt. There are serious fears that advanced level results could come out
later than anticipated, thereby delaying the commencement of lower sixth

      Geography markers are reportedly earning as little as $76,30 and
$86,30 per script for papers one and two, respectively. For other papers,
teachers are receiving less than $70 per script. However, markers' of grade
seven exams received an even more paltry $15 per script.

      To add insult to injury, markers have not been given the food and
accommodation they were promised, resulting in some teachers absconding from
the exercise.

      Fifteen markers reportedly failed to attend the marking of Geography
paper one, at Africa University, last December. Teachers interviewed
expressed dissatisfaction at the meagre remuneration they were receiving.
"What can one honestly do with that little amount of money? It is not
commensurate with the hard work we are putting in," said one disgruntled
teacher who refused to be named for fear of reprisals.

      The combative Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe has vowed to
redress the anomalies. The Union's Harare regional representative, Ladistous
Zunde, said they were looking into the matter and would soon announce a plan
of action."It is quite true that the markers are being underpaid and that
this is compromising the marking exercise.

      "As PTUZ, we are going to carry out our own investigations since we
are concerned with the welfare of teachers and the future of students, "
said Zunde.

      Zunde also disclosed that they were in the process of forming an
independent examiners' association that would look into the welfare of
examination markers.

      Contacted for comment, Zimsec said they would issue a "comprehensive"
report after the marking exercise had been completed. Zimsec has failed to
smoothly run the schools' examinations project since it took over from
Cambridge in 1997.

      The Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) told The Standard that their
association was aware that the markers were being grossly underpaid.
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Zim Standard

      Chave Chimurenga actor flees
      By Henry Makiwa

      THE comical Joseph Simoko, who appears in one of ZTV's infamous Chave
Chimurenga adverts, has recently proved that man cannot live on peas alone
as he wants hungry Zimbabwean viewers to believe.

      Simoko, realising that Zanu PF's Hondo Yeminda will not bring bread to
his table, has joined the 'great trek' to the United Kingdom where he is
understood to be scouting for pastures greener than those found at the TV
advert's Vuka Uzenzele farm.

      In an advert which has offended many due to its naive message, Simoko
plays a famished character whose hunger drives him out of his house and into
the empty supermarkets in search of food. When he finds no joy there, he
proceeds to an imaginary, deserted white commercial farm, ironically, called
'Little England', where he is chased away by wild beasts.

      The character only finds reprieve from his crisis when he arrives at
an indigenous farm called Vuka Uzenzele, where he immediately reaps where he
has not sown by picking some peas, and then breaking into joyous dancing
with the new farmers.

      Simoko's infamous advert is still being religiously flighted on ZBC
but Simoko is many millions of miles away in the United Kingdom even though
his advert ironically shows him running away from 'Little England'.

      Said Simoko's grandmother: "Joseph fled Zimbabwe a long time ago in
search of more lucrative opportunities in the UK. But before he went, he
came to tell me that things were tough and he was considering leaving the

      "Nowadays, we only see him on television. He left us such a funny
memory," she said laughing heartily.

      Simoko was a sales merchandiser at a Harare food company. One of his
work mates confirmed that he had indeed left his job and was now "somewhere

      Simoko becomes one of the many entertainers and young despondent
Zimbabweans to have left the country because of the harsh political and
economic environment characterised by food shortages, daily rising of prices
and rampant unemployment.

      ZBC's head for radio and television services, Abigail Mvududu, told
The Standard on Tuesday that the overplayed and nauseating Chave Chimurenga
commercials were being paid for by the government. What a waste of
taxpayers' money!
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Daily Telegraph

Simpson on Sunday: Playing Zimbabwe is surely the best way to hit Mugabe for
(Filed: 12/01/2003)

Zimbabwe represents a minor cricketing miracle. The entire country is little
more than one of the larger English counties in population terms, and
cricket is played mostly by white people; and nowadays the white population
of Zimbabwe actually living in the country can't number more than 50,000.

Yet if you drive by the almost unnaturally green playing fields of one of
the expensive secondary schools which still eke out an existence there you
will see cricket of a quality which nearly matches one of the lesser English
counties. Which no doubt explains why Zimbabwe thrashed England so badly not
long ago.

If you drive on to one of the larger townships during the cricket season you
can sometimes see another version of the game: a dusty pitch instead of a
well-watered one, T-shirts and shorts instead of flannels, bare feet rather
than boots, a ball that isn't always made of leather, and bats that are
unlikely to be of willow. But the enthusiasm is the same; if anything the
appeals are louder and more dramatic. In Zimbabwe as in South Africa,
cricket is edging across the colour boundary.

Not, however, for people of the generation of President Robert Mugabe. For
him, cricket is another symbol of the Zimbabwe he wants to destroy. This is
not like South Africa in the 1970s and 1980s, where the exclusion from
international sporting competition brought genuine, effective pressure on
the government from the only people who were allowed to play a part in the
political process: the whites.

In the overall scale of things, the sporting boycott of South Africa was
pretty unimportant compared with all the economic problems the apartheid
regime faced because of its policies. But it was a galling, everyday
reminder to the white population that they were living in a country that was
an international outcast and had a system of government that was regarded as
being both stupid and morally wrong. So there was always a certain submerged
longing for the moment when South Africa might become acceptable once again.
And although the sports boycott didn't end apartheid, it played a big part
in making majority rule welcome to white South Africans when the rugby and
cricket internationals started up again. The huge outburst of nationwide joy
when the Springboks won the Rugby World Cup in 1995 did its bit to ensure
the success of the new South Africa.

The few games that will be played in Zimbabwe during the cricket World Cup
later this month can't be compared with the boycott of the Springboks. The
players and supporters of cricket in Zimbabwe are prominent among the
millions whose human rights are being infringed by the Mugabe regime; they
have no influence whatever with their government, and the whole machinery of
the Zimbabwean state has been mobilised against them.

If the world's cricketers were to boycott the Zimbabwe matches now, they
would merely lower the morale of a proportion of those Zimbabweans who are
already suffering; it won't mean a thing to Robert Mugabe.

Back in 1978, the soccer World Cup finals were held in Argentina, a country
that had undergone a terrifying and ultimately disastrous Right-wing
military coup only two years before. Then, too, there was a good deal of
debate about the rights and wrongs of a boycott; but it ended when Amnesty
International gave a press conference in London for the sports journalists
who would be covering the World Cup. Yes, said Amnesty, they should go; but
they should keep their eyes open for any sign of the appalling human rights
abuses that were taking place there.

Most of the correspondents didn't, of course. Sport sometimes has a numbing
effect on the brains and moral sense of those who follow it. As Peter Hain,
now the Welsh Secretary, who led the British boycott of South Africa in the
1970s and 1980s, rightly asked this week: "If international cricket doesn't
care [about the crisis in Zimbabwe] then what are its values? What does it
really stand for, except the right to bat on regardless?"

Yet there were sports correspondents in 1978 who did take Amnesty's advice
seriously; and they noticed and wrote about the military dictatorship that
had seized power and the tragically disordered society which resulted. The
result: greater public awareness of the terrible things that were happening
in Argentina.

It could be that way in Zimbabwe now. One way to show concern about what is
happening would be to boycott the cricket, certainly. Another way is to root
for the Zimbabwean team, in the hope that every match they win will
encourage white Zimbabweans, and the millions of black Zimbabweans who want
them to stay in the country, to hang on in there until the moment when
Mugabe goes. And maybe even help him on his way.

a.. John Simpson is the World Affairs Editor of the BBC
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Sunday, 12 January, 2003, 14:59 GMT
England declines Zimbabwe offer
England football coach Sven-Goran Eriksson
The FA did not want to put Eriksson in an awkward position
England's Football Association has turned down an invitation to send a national squad to Zimbabwe.

The FA was contacted by officials in Zimbabwe following the September announcement that Sven-Goran Eriksson's squad would play a friendly in South Africa next May.

Zimbabwe officials offered England the chance to visit the country on their way to Durban.

It was suggested that England could set up a training camp in Harare and play a friendly against Zimbabwe, while the players would also be taken on a sightseeing tour.

Football Association acting chief executive David Davies
David Davies swiftly turned down the invite
But the FA's acting chief executive David Davies said the offer was rapidly declined.

With the cloud of political unrest currently hanging over Zimbabwe, it was felt that an England visit would not be deemed appropriate.

England's cricketers are already caught up in a similar moral dillemma ahead of the World Cup, which starts on 10 February.

England are scheduled to face Zimbabwe in Harare in their opening match on 13 February, but have come under pressure to boycott the competition.

But England and Wales Cricket Board chief executive Tim Lamb, who is likely to recommend to his management board on Tuesday that the team fulfils the fixture, said the two issues could not be compared.

"We spoke to David Davies in the week and he was very keen that the FA should not be seen to be scoring a point over the ECB here," he told the BBC.

"It's much easier to make a decision when another organisation has already gone in and tested the temperature of the water.

"It's a very different scenario, we're talking about a cricket World Cup match instead of just a friendly.

"We've signed a contract and the FA hasn't."

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Sunday, 12 January, 2003, 16:58 GMT
Harare mayor to face charges
Riot police in Harare
Police have wide powers to stop protests
The opposition mayor of Zimbabwe's capital Harare, who was arrested on Saturday for holding a political rally without permission, will face court charges this week, police say.

The mayor, Elias Mudzuri, will remain in custody until his court appearance on Monday or Tuesday, according to the authorities.

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe
Mugabe wants to name governors for cities
Under Zimbabwe's Public Order and Security Act, police clearance must be obtained for all political gatherings.

Mr Mudzuri is also expected to be charged with assault - police say he bit an officer's finger during his arrest.

Opposition leaders, however, contend Mr Mudzuri was "manhandled" by police.

They are now trying to secure the release of the mayor and 20 supporters who were detained at the same time as him.

The main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), denies that Saturday's gathering was political. It says the meeting was called to discuss civic matters like waste collection problems.

Power struggle

Mr Mudzuri was elected mayor last March. He has been involved in a power struggle with President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF government ever since.

The government has accused the mayor of incompetence, corruption and insubordination.

On Wednesday, four opposition supporters were arrested for demonstrating against moves by President Mugabe's administration to appoint governors to run the opposition-held cities of Harare and Bulawayo.

The government says the new governors will not interfere with the mayors, but the MDC sees the move as a drive against its growing power.

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