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Nasty Nick

Brutal slum landlord, long-term best friend of Robert Mugabe and now facing
multi-million pound damages after a judge ruled he had hired hitmen ...
Nicholas van Hoogstraten is no stranger to bad publicity. Here, he boasts to
Lynn Barber about terrorising tenants, getting into heaven and recycling tea

Sunday January 15, 2006
The Observer

Nicholas van Hoogstraten is having his photograph taken when I arrive, but
exclaims when he sees me, 'Are you the writer? They usually send dolly
birds - I'm glad they sent a mature one.'
I thought he was being sarcastic, but realised later he was perfectly
sincere. He likes meeting people who remember London in the Sixties. We
might even have met in the Sixties - he was an associate of Peter Rachman's
and I went out with one of Rachman's circle - so we spent a nostalgic few
minutes reminiscing about rent-collecting practices in St Stephen's Gardens,
W11, which is where van Hoogstraten learned his landlord's trade.

'Call me Nick,' he tells me, but I don't actually want to be that chummy
with the great intimidator, so I try to avoid calling him anything at all.
Several people have told me I will be charmed by van Hoogstraten. I wouldn't
say I was charmed, but he is certainly entertaining company when he isn't
droning on about the iniquities of judges or how society is going to the
dogs. He is intelligent and seems, if not exactly honest, keen to explain
himself - he occasionally helps me with hints when I am slow on the uptake.
He is also witty (if you don't mind macabre jokes about hitmen) and seems
able to take jokes against himself. Though, of course, if I am shot dead on
my doorstep, you will know that I was wrong.

I asked my usual precautionary question - whether he had ever sued anyone
for libel? - and he said, 'No, never, and I've been called all sorts of
things. I'm not bothered. In fact, it's good for business.'

Why good for business? To frighten people?

'Not to frighten them, but so I don't get my time wasted with arseholes.
Because most people in business are not coming to do business, they're
coming along to crook you, especially when you're rich - I'm serious. In
fact, most people you meet in life are coming along to crook you. I don't
know whether you've found that?'

Not at all.

'Well you've been lucky.'

We are talking in the lounge of the Courtlands Hotel, Hove, which has long
been his headquarters in Brighton. It is the purest Fawlty Towers, a dingy
warren of corridors and firedoors, repro furniture and cheapo light
fittings. Unlike Fawlty Towers, however, it appears to have no guests.
Instead, it has herds of burly young men in nylon shirts who periodically
charge through the room talking loudly to each other. If they are waiters
they don't show any inclination to wait. Perhaps they are his famous
'bodyguards', though they don't seem to treat van Hoogstraten with any sign
of respect. It is the strangest (and coldest) hotel I have ever been in.

But, anyway, van Hoogstraten says, he no longer owns the Courtlands: 'I'm a
squatter here.' All his assets were frozen when he was convicted of
manslaughter in 2002. 'I've been living off £2,000 a week living expenses,
and handouts from friends and relations. I'm serious.' He says he has to be
nice to his children if he wants them to pay his bar bills. (Not that his
bar bills would ever amount to much - he doesn't smoke, drink or take drugs
and appears to live on weak tea. He drank several pots of it while I was
with him without ever offering me any.) His children bought him a new car
last year, but that was, he says, only because they were embarrassed by his
turning up at their posh public school in a 10-year-old rustbucket.

'Without my knowledge they bought me this blinking flash bling-bling car, a
Cadillac Escalade,' he grumbles. 'I've only used it eight or 10 times.'

He disapproves of such extravagance. 'I live like a church mouse. Always
have done.'

Is that because he's mean?

'I'm not mean. I'm careful. I haven't got any... what's the word... vices.
What would I need to pay out money for?'

Clothes? I suggested, trying not to stare at his too-tight shirt and ancient
Cuban-heeled boots.

'This is a Gucci shirt - I didn't buy it. These are Versace trousers - I
didn't buy them. I'm not wearing anything I bought myself, honestly.'

What about his watch? He takes it off to show me, a metal-bracelet Seiko.
'That's a £4 watch. Not to you - to you it's a £160 watch, but I bought 100
of them for £400 to give to my senior workers in Zimbabwe, so it cost four

I told him he was making me feel quite sorry for him, but he said: 'You
don't have to feel sorry for me, because it's out of choice. I'm just not
interested in spending money. I did all that when I was young, had flashy
cars, flashy clothes.'

But what's the point of making money if you don't enjoy spending it?

'What! The point of making money is not to spend it! You ask anybody that's
made any money. Why should you spend it when that money could make more

However, he was very indignant that the police who searched his house said
he was so mean he kept tea bags in order to re-use them. That is typical, he
says, of the evil lies the police and media put about. The tea bags were on
the draining board because the previous police made tea, but couldn't find
the rubbish bin, and the reason they couldn't find it is because he doesn't
have one - disgusting things, standing around breeding germs. This leads to
a lengthy rant about the filthy habits of most people today, parents who let
their kids run around with snotty noses and don't teach them how to wipe
their bottoms properly with wet wipes. He taught his from a very early age.

I, meanwhile, am still mesmerised by the missing rubbish bin. So what does
he do with his used tea bags?

'Take them out to the dustbin, of course.'

What - every time he makes a cup of tea?

'It's only out the back door.'

I think you're mad, I tell him.

'Well a lot of people think I'm mad,' he agrees.

One of the most conspicuous manifestations of his madness is Hamilton
Palace, the vast pile he has been building near Uckfield in East Sussex for
the past 20 years. He usually says he is building it as his mausoleum, that
he will fill it with his art collection (currently in a duty-free warehouse
in Switzerland) and then be buried in it. This is not the action of a church
mouse - it seems more like an extravagance.

'Yes, that's a good word. I normally call it the hole in the ocean into
which I throw my money. But you see, that has never been mine. I have never
owned it at any time. So it's quite safe to show it.' This seems to confirm
the local rumour that the Palace was always intended as a bolthole for his
chum President Mugabe, but this is not a subject van Hoogstraten is prepared
to discuss. At all events, work on the Palace seems to have stopped, though
it is still heavily guarded by security men, presumably fighting off the
ever-present threat of ramblers.

If van Hoogstraten sounds a bit mad on the subject of rubbish bins, he
sounds completely deranged on the subject of ramblers - or, as he calls
them, perverts, flashers, 'the dirty mac brigade'. They have the nerve to
try and walk across his land: 'It's an outrage!' But it's a public footpath,
I tell him, they have the right to walk there, it's the law of the land.

'We don't have to accept the law of the land, do we?'

You don't?

'Course I don't. Law of the land! Where does this law come from? Because
these so-called public footpaths in inverted commas were for the serfs to
walk from A to B. They weren't for the public. The public have never walked
anywhere - they've had horses and cars and things. You don't think the lord
of the manor walked along a footpath do you? Course not. They were just for
the serfs. Remember that prior to 1700 and something, nobody had any rights
here anyway, they were all slaves.'

Has he never ventured on a country walk himself?

'Course I have. But we walk down legal country lanes, or on public land. Why
do people have to trespass on not just my land, but any private land? And
what kind of people go rambling? Perverts.'

Would he call Janet Street-Porter, head of the Ramblers' Association, a

'She's a classic example! Look at that revolting property she built - it's a
disgrace, a blot on the landscape. That's why she's a rambler. People who do
that sort of thing don't have an eye for beauty, they don't respect people's
property. The majority of people who go rambling don't have any good taste.'

His wealth, or lack of it, remains a mystery. In the Sixties he claimed to
be Britain's youngest self-made millionaire, and even recently boasted of
being worth half a billion. But now he says he's worth hardly anything.
'Personally, personally, not even £1m I would have thought. Nearly
everything has been transferred into trusts.'

Who benefits from the trusts?

'Ah, well, that is not an easy thing to answer. One large section goes to a
charitable organisation in Bermuda for the maintenance of historic
monuments... [I must have smirked at this point because he added: 'Not
something that you would approve of I'm sure.'] Another vast chunk of it
goes with the Palace. More recently, there are trusts to continue various
activities that I've got in Zimbabwe. I pay for the education of three
children in every school [in the country], which is several thousand
children. Actually, it doesn't cost a lot of money in real terms, but I've
set up things like that that will continue.' (Nowadays, he is the biggest
foreign investor in Zimbabwe, having first got involved at 19 when it was
still Rhodesia and he bought an estate there, sight unseen, that turned out
to include valuable mining rights. This led to a friendship with Tiny
Rowland of Lonrho that seems to have been mutually beneficial.)

His children won't inherit on his death, because 'They've mostly got it all
already.' He has five children ranging in age from eight to 20, by three
different mothers, all black ('Once you've had black you never go back') and
they all get along fine. I asked if it was like a harem, if he rotated his
favours among the mothers, but he said no, he no longer has sexual relations
with any of them, but they remain close and, 'of course, I've got
girlfriends as well'. He is closer to one of the mothers (Caroline Williams)
than the others - 'There's a pecking order' - but they are all friends and
the children get along brilliantly. He, the mothers and the children always
spend Christmas, birthdays and holidays together. If it weren't for the
children, he would probably have relocated to Zimbabwe by now - 'I'm a bit
disillusioned with this country,' he says.

Van Hoogstraten's own upbringing was strict, he says, under the iron hand of
his mother, and his Jesuit school. His father was a shipping agent importing
meat from Argentina and was often away in South America. Before that, he
owned two businesses in France, but the government appropriated them during
the war, and he spent four or five years fighting unsuccessfully for
compensation. 'So that's when I learned, from a very very early age, don't
put anything in your own name - hide it, stash it - because anything can
happen anywhere in the world and you can lose what you've built up.'

I asked whether he had Jewish blood, but he said forcefully, 'No, definitely
not - no Jewish, no Irish. A bit of Indian.' One of his ancestors, he says,
worked for the Dutch East India Company and married a maharanee. 'That's why
I've got Indian legs.' So saying, he starts rolling up his trouser leg to
show me, but then suddenly stops and asks suspiciously: 'You're not going to
print any of this are you?'

I might do. Why not?

'Because then people will think I'm even more mad. Madder than they already
think.' So then he rolls his trouser leg down again, and I never do discover
what Indian legs are. When I ask where he gets his obsession with money
from, he says without hesitation, 'My mother.' She made him walk to the
newsagent every day from the age of five to save a penny a week delivery
charge on her newspapers. And he remembers her exclaiming over a neighbour
who was buying a 2s 6d tie on the never-never which meant he had to pay
three shillings in the end, and her saying, '"That's why they're tenants and
we own our house. And they'll always be tenants." And, of course,' he adds
solemnly, 'since then I've seen that she was 100 per cent correct.'

But, in the end, she taught him the value of money so well that they fell
out over it. He started a postage-stamp business while he was still at
school, but sometimes she wouldn't give him the money to buy a new issue and
he really resented that. 'Oh it was a nightmare - I had to sign a document,
I had to pay interest, I got strangled round the neck every time I needed
£50 or £30.' He once said, 'I had to bash her around to get £100 out of
her', though now he denies that he ever hit her. She died four years ago and
he attended her funeral, but he hadn't spoken to her for decades. 'Did I
ever make it up with her? The answer's no. I don't ever forgive or forget.
It's a big mistake. If you forgive or forget the person will come back and
hit you harder the next time.'

He left school at 16, joined the merchant navy and started buying land in
the Bahamas which was then very cheap. At 18 he moved into Notting Hill Gate
alongside Peter Rachman, buying houses very cheaply because they had
rent-controlled tenants, but then 'persuading' the tenants to move.
Favourite practices (that gave their name to Rachmanism) were removing roofs
and staircases, or installing prostitutes to drive respectable tenants out.
He later extended his property empire to Brighton, which is now his base in

Van Hoogstraten's first brush with the law came when he was 11, for stealing
a typewriter according to the press, but he went ballistic when I said it.
'I'm sorry! It wasn't for stealing a typewriter, it was for receiving a
stolen typewriter. I needed a typewriter for my business and I bought one
off a schoolfriend - I paid him £6 and it was a £15 typewriter. So when he
got caught stealing something else he said, "Oh, and I stole this typewriter
and sold it to Nicky." It was a set-up. It was simply jealousy because I was
already well off.'

The press are always misreporting things, he grumbles. For instance, they
say that he was convicted in 1968 of firebombing a rabbi's house but: a) he
wasn't a rabbi, he was only a cantor, b) it wasn't a firebomb it was only a
hand-grenade, and c) he didn't lob the handgrenade personally, someone else
did it. Whatever... it was enough to earn him a four-year sentence, and a
further five years for receiving stolen silver which the police found in his
house when they went to question him. Since then, there have been
convictions for demanding money with menaces, forcible entry, bribing a
prison officer, assault, contempt of court, though no further prison
sentences until 2002 when he was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to
10 years.

This case is currently in such a fluid legal position, I have to be careful
what I say, but basically, on 2 July 1999 a businessman named Mohammed Sabir
Raja, who was suing van Hoogstraten over a financial deal, answered his
doorbell and was stabbed and then shot by two men in front of his
grandchildren. Two career criminals - Robert Knapp and David Croke - were
convicted of the killing and are currently serving life. But van
Hoogstraten, who was charged with them, was acquitted of murder and
convicted of manslaughter instead and given 10 years. He spent 13 months in
Belmarsh before his lawyers successfully argued that the judge had
misdirected the jury and he emerged a free man.

However, the Raja family have been tenacious in pursuing a civil case for
damages and, just before Christmas, a judge ruled in their favour and said
he was convinced that van Hoogstraten was responsible for the murder, not
only on the balance of probabilities (the civil test), but beyond reasonable
doubt (the criminal test) and ordered van Hoogstraten to pay the Rajas an
immediate £500,000 interim payment. So has he paid it?

'Is that a joke?' he asks sharply. (He greets many of my questions with, 'Is
that a joke?' and it gets a bit wearying saying over and over again, 'No,
I'm not joking, I'm asking.')

Anyway, he says, he certainly has no intention of paying the Raja family
because they already owe him £1.7m costs for previous cases that he won, and
he is appealing against the judgment.

He is also planning to produce new forensic evidence that, he says, will
show that the two hitmen - 'those muppets' - were wrongly convicted.

He claims he'd never even met one of them until they were in Belmarsh and
this terrible wheezy old man, Mr Croke, doddered up to him and croaked, 'I'm
your enforcer!'

Van Hoogstraten grumbles for what feels like several hours about the
iniquity of his conviction and the recent civil judgment. It was all a
stitch-up by corrupt police, corrupt lawyers and 'the Jewish fraternity'
because 'the powers that be' are irritated by his support for President
Mugabe. 'Nobody seriously believes that I was responsible for sending this
pair of muppets round to do this guy in.'

Are you saying you didn't even send them to frighten him?

'You are joking, aren't you?'

No. I'm asking.

'He didn't even figure. If I had a list of 20 people I wanted something done
to to teach them a lesson, he wouldn't even have been on it. That's how
unimportant he was.'

Are you saying you have a list of people you want something done to?

'Obviously. But the point I'm making is that he wouldn't even be on it. See,
that's the ridiculousness about this case.'

But you seem to be saying you would be prepared to use physical violence
against some people?

'One does what has to be done. I'm in business.'

Business, with van Hoogstraten, seems to cover a multitude of sins. He is
obviously a sharp businessman, but not, he says, a dodgy one.

'All my businesses, every business I've ever had, is totally legitimate.
I've been investigated and investigated and investigated. That was the main
reason why the Inland Revenue went for me in 1980, because they wanted to
investigate how I'd accumulated such massive wealth. So they went into every
single thing I'd done back to 1972, and I got a totally clean bill of
health. Nobody has ever suggested that any of my money has been obtained
illegally; there has never been the slightest suggestion of that.'

And yet his business methods seem to be, shall we say, unconventional. He
said two years ago that, 'Of course I threaten tenants on a daily basis.
It's perfectly legal.'

However, there are hints that he does sometimes worry about his sins. He was
educated by Jesuits and, though no longer a practising Catholic, says he
'probably' believes in an afterlife.

'That's why I've planted so many trees - 3,000 in Sussex, and more in
Zimbabwe. So when I get up there [Heaven] and they say, "You're not coming
in here," I can pray in aid, "Well what about all the trees I planted?
Thousands of them. Done my back in in the process." And that will swing it,
won't it? I'll get let in. Well I think I will. Because all these things I
am supposed to have done that are so bad, in reality I haven't done anything
at all. It has all been conjured up over the years, mainly by the media.'

So why, given his hatred of the media and his utter contempt for public
opinion, did he agree to give this interview?

'You must have caught me on a good day.'

I fervently hope I never meet him on a bad one.

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Mugabe plants more spies in army

Zim Online

Mon 16 January 2006

      HARARE - The government has stepped up surveillance of junior
soldiers, planting more than a thousand spies in the army and air force over
the last three months to monitor increasing discontent in the security
forces, ZimOnline has learnt.

      Sources in the state's spy Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO)
said the move to increase surveillance on the armed forces did not mean that
President Robert Mugabe's government faced an immediate threat of a military
coup, adding that the Harare administration still enjoys "solid support"
among senior commanders of all security organs.

      They said the government was rather concerned about growing discontent
among lower-ranking soldiers because of poor pay and was increasingly unsure
whether ordinary foot soldiers could be trusted to lay their lives in
defence of the government in the event of an opposition-led mass revolt.

      "This is not about a coup, everyone knows that there is no likelihood
of a military takeover," said one senior officer in the CIO, who we cannot

      He added: "The issue is about the dependability of the private soldier
should he be called upon to defend the state against mass protests.

      "Besides the poor salaries and working conditions, the way Morgan
(Tsvangirai, the main opposition leader) has been talking about street
protests is also something we cannot just ignore and this is why we have to
be on the ground monitoring the mood among soldiers and police constables."

      Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi could not be reached for comment on
the matter. But State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa, who is in charge of
the CIO, would not take questions on why the secret service agency had
stepped up spying on the security forces, saying he will not discuss
security matters with the Press.

      "How many times do I have to tell journalists to stop asking me
questions about security matters? There will be no comment now or in the
future as long as it relates to state security," he said.

      Mugabe's government has in the past relied on the security forces to
crush protests in urban areas by Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) party, which controls the country's major cities and towns.

      Although the MDC has been severely weakened after a split between
Tsvangirai and other top leaders of the party, the opposition leader has in
past months insisted he will lead Zimbabweans in street protests after
failing to unseat the government through the ballot, which he says has
always been rigged by Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party.

      Sources said the government was worried by Tsvangirai's threats
chiefly because it was only too aware of swelling discontent in the lower
ranks of the army and police.

      According to the sources, the government's Joint Operations Command,
which brings together the CIO, army, air force and prison service, last year
advised Mugabe to hike the salaries of soldiers and the police to curb

      Mugabe, who openly last year told a meeting of ZANU PF's key central
committee that the party depended on the security forces to remain in power,
is said to have directed that soldiers and other security forces be paid
more money.

      But the security forces have so far been given a 231 percent salary
hike awarded to every civil servant because the government does not have
money to pay the soldiers and police officers more money. Soldiers and
police constables' salaries remain too little even after the 231 percent
hike because of Zimbabwe's high inflation of 585.8 percent. - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe opposition legislator still in custody

Zim Online

Mon 16 January 2006

      HARARE - A Zimbabwe opposition legislator together with seven party
supporters who were arrested on Saturday for allegedly flouting the country's
electoral laws during local council elections were still in police custody
last night.

      Job Sikhala, who belongs to a faction of the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) party opposed to leader Morgan Tsvangirai, was together with
the seven supporters arrested in Chitungwiza at the weekend for allegedly
campaigning "too close to a polling station."

      A lawyer representing Sikhala and the party supporters, Otto Saki,
said: "Police are holding Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Member of
Parliament Job Sikhala and seven party supporters including a 17-year-old
boy at a police station in Chitungwiza.

      "They were arrested last (Saturday) night as polling stations were
winding up after local council elections. The police accused them of
campaigning in close proximity to a polling station," he said.

      But the lawyer disputed the police version of events insisting Sikhala
and the party's supporters were caught beyond the stipulated distance.

      "The claim that they were campaigning is not true because they were
sitting in a truck parked well beyond the stipulated distance and it was
after the elections," the lawyer said.

      Under the country's electoral laws, it is illegal for political
parties and election candidates to campaign within 100 metres of a polling

      Local council elections took place in various wards countrywide.
Results of the low-key election were still to be announced last night.

      The MDC which went into the poll divided following a damaging split in
their leadership ranks, accuses the police of applying the country's
security and electoral laws selectively to the detriment of the opposition.

      But the MDC which had presented the greatest challenge to President
Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party is severely weakened after it split
into two warring factions following differences over senate election last
November. - ZimOnline

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Trudy Explains Tsvangirai's So Called Dismissal

Zim Daily

            Sunday, January 15 2006 @ 12:01 AM GMT
            Contributed by: correspondent

            By Trudy Stevenson
            I have been astonished by the lack of information "out there"
about what happened at the fateful MDC National Council meeting on 12
October and during the attempts at mediation which culminated in us being
where we are today, therefore I chronicle the facts below as either new
information or as a reminder.

            12 October National Council meeting

            First all 12 Provinces reported back on their consultations with
the structures. 6 Provinces were in favour of participation in the Senate
elections, 4 Provinces were against and 2 Provinces reported that they could
not complete proper consultations due to interference. Mashonaland East in
particular reported intimidation and attempts to sway the vote, and produced
a letter being distributed to structures allegedly with Theresa Makone's
name. Council ruled that those two Provinces' vote be "inconclusive". Then
National Youth Chair, Chamisa, reported the youth were unanimously against,
and National Women Chair, Matibenga, reported the women were also
unanimously against.

            Debate was then opened to the floor, and there were many
contributions both for and against. Among other contributions, Women's
Secretary, Muchayi, corrected the Women's report, explaining that National
Executive and Provincial Women Chairpersons had met and stated that they
personally were against, but that they had not been able to consult the
structures. Eventually Roy Bennett upbraided Management Committee for
bringing the party to that point where tempers were so high and so much time
had been wasted, and proposed that they go out of the room, discuss and come
to an agreement among themselves and then tell us what they wanted us to do,
and we would do it! This was a very popular proposal, so they recessed for
about an hour.

            On their return, National Chairman Matongo (who chaired the
Council meeting) announced that they had decided that we would vote, by
secret ballot. There was some surprise, and Tendai Biti warned that it was
not wise, however he was overruled. Morgan Tsvangirai stood up before we
voted, reminded us that we were a democratic party, that there were strong
arguments both for and against, and implored us all to respect the result,
whatever it was, and to go forward together to implement that result.

            We then voted and Matongo counted the ballots in full view of
everyone. There were two spoilt papers - one had a big star in the "yes"
box, the other had a very small cross in one corner of the "yes" box, so in
fact they were both "yes" votes but we ruled them spoilt. At the front we
had been watching the "yes" and "no" piles carefully, and I realised the
"yes" pile had won with 33, however the Chairman then seemed to get confused
and announced, pointing to the wrong pile, "Yes - 31, No -33, Spoilt
Papers - 2. The Noes have won." There was ululation from some members, and
Tendai was so excited his chair collapsed. Paul Themba Nyathi, sitting at
the corner of the table, said: "Mr Chairman, don't joke, this is too
serious." Then Matongo said: "Yes, I was only joking, in fact the result is
No- 31, Yes- 33, Spoilt papers 2".

            Tsvangirai then stood up and said, "Well, you have voted, and
you have voted to participate, which as you know is against my own wish. In
the circumstances, I can no longer continue." There was then a long silence,
and we glanced at each other, wondering, "What does he mean? Will he resign,
or what?" Then he resumed: " No, I cannot let you participate in this senate
election when I believe that it is against the best interests of the party.
I am the President of this party. I am therefore going to go out of this
room and announce to the world that MDC will not participate in this
election. If the party breaks, so be it. I will answer at Congress." He then
stormed out of the room, followed by a few cheering acolytes - Chamisa,
Mashakada, Mhashu, etc.

            The majority of us, including all the other 5 Management
members, remained in our seats, numb with shock. Tendai Biti was first to
speak, saying: "No, no, no, this is against the principles of the party, we
cannot let the party break like this. We owe it to all our members." I
myself added: "No, everyone must remain in this room until we find a
solution to keep the party together." David Coltart then came in with his
proposal, that all the remaining 5 Management members must go after the
president immediately and counsel him to accept the result of the Council
vote, and then report back to us as Council. This was adopted, and we
dispersed around 4.00 pm, having started at 10 am.

            The five Management pursued Tsvangirai, he was not in his office
but they caught up with him at his home, where he had already finished
addressing a press conference. He said he did not want to speak to them, he
was going to his rural home, and he drove off. They tried to telephone him
all evening and the next day, but he would not answer. Meanwhile they
learned that at the press conference, with both international and local
media, he had lied that the vote was 50-50 and he had used his casting vote
(which he did not have, according to the constitution) with the result that
MDC would not be participating in the Senate election. This misinformation
was soon out in the international press, Mail and Guardian getting it out
around 6pm that day. Management therefore met again that evening to release
an official announcement giving the real results and declaring that the MDC
had therefore resolved to participate.

            Mediation attempts

            There were several attempts at mediation between the two groups,
mostly spurned by Tsvangirai, who simply refused to speak to Sibanda or the
others. Thabo Mbeki invited the two sides down to Pretoria the following
week, and while Sibanda and co obliged, Tsvangirai snubbed him, announcing
over the phone that it was nothing serious, just a storm in a teacup.

            The most successful was Prof Brian Raftopoulos, who managed to
get the two sides together and persuaded them to agree to desist from
attacking each other in public while preparing for a second meeting at which
some agreement might be reached. He then shuttled between the groups to come
up with a 4-point agreement, which, if accepted by both sides, would unblock
the impasse.

            1. The Sibanda group would withdraw from the Senate election.
            2. Tsvangirai would re-convene National Council, apologise for
overturning its resolution and accept whatever sanction if any was meted
            3. Tsvangirai would renounce violence and remove those members
and employees who had been reinstated unconstitutionally after being
expelled/ dismissed for violence by National Council.
            4. Tsvangirai would disband his kitchen cabinet, who were both
involved in violence and who habitually overturned resolutions made by
elected party structures.

            The Sibanda group agreed to withdraw from the Senate election,
provided Tsvangirai kept his side of the bargain. Sadly, he refused on every

            Tsvangirai's Expulsion
            In view of Tsvangirai's intransigence over these constitutional
issues, he was tried by the party's National Dsciplinary Committee and
expelled, his expulsion being endorsed by National Council on 6 January
2006. In line with the constitution, Vice President Gibson Sibanda is now
Acting President.
            Many people say: but surely you can resolve this and come back
together, for the sake of the party and the people who put so much hope and
faith in MDC?
            My response is: How can we come back together with someone who
deliberately goes against the fundamental principles of the party and
contravenes its constitution? Would you ask a battered wife to go back to
her husband for the sake of the children? Do we have to wait until she is
killed? Did we form MDC to create another Mugabe?

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NACFREEZ Supports White Monday Intitiative

Sent: Monday, January 16, 2006 3:14 AM
Subject: - Statement for


"The North American Coalition for a Free Zimbabwe (NACFEEZ)
sanctions and is behind the organizing of WHITE MONDAY.  NACFREEZ gives
a call to RISE, STAND-UP and BE COUNTED. We give an wavering support
solidarity to fellow Zimbabweans in our efforts to stop the suffering
carnage caused by a despotic, ethnic and racist regime. This makes our
independence a mockery in the eyes of our neighbours and the whole
WHITE MONDAY is just the beginning of a long and protracted struggle.
is not just a one-day event.  Day by day, inch by inch it's a cinch, by
yard, it's hard! Come One Come All! NACFREEZ says hats off to you who
heeding this call and applaud your decision to stand shoulder to
with your fellow Zimbabweans. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! SOKWANELE! ZVAKWANA!"

NACFREEZ therefore appeals to the people in all walks of life, the
villagers, the town populace, the churches, and so forth. You, who with
pride, resilience, courage and patriotism have so far carried the
independence torch and aspirations -  STAND UP AND  BE COUNTED. You,
who are
the power; you, who are the life and the nation's backbone - ARISE TO
CALL. You, who are the fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters, are an
indispensable asset of our nation - ARISE TO THE CAUSE AND UNITE! Shed
fear, wipe the tear, brave the storm of political disparity and lift
expectations higher. You deserve better than this. Don't settle for the
worst.  Cry our beloved country, Cry!

To the professionals - doctors, nurses, teachers, tradesmen,
editors, etc - and political parties, rally around the common man, the
worker and the peasant. Demonstrate your rights which are enshrined in
universal law of human rights and liberties, enshrined in the African
Charter and endorsed in the spirit of brotherhood and togetherness in
Holy Scriptures. It is not only your right to be free, but also the
will of
the Almighty.

We urge you to rise above your fears of intimidation and the likelihood
persecution, harassment and genocide, and hold the regime by the horns.
is only a matter of hours for an already dying regime to collapse. This
the time! Cry our beloved country, Cry!

We specifically call on the hoodwinked CIO. Dump the regime that has
your sterling profession turn against the masses that have entrusted
with their lives to fortify and defend. Think of your families,
schoolmates and your peers who now look at you as snakes in the grass.
of your future and the future of your country that needs your services
protection. Discard the yoke that binds you to a master that feeds on
weaknesses. A master that has created alienation between you and those
people who care for and about you. It's time to stand out and be
Cry our beloved country, Cry!

We call on the Police. You have been made tools of oppression; tools of
intimidation, tools of imprisonment and torture. Your noble protective
profession has been turned to a commitment of fraud, robbery and lying.
Truth, is what you - the Police, are supposed to stand for and uphold.
law, is what you are supposed to enforce. Instead, all has been made a
circus rhyme that you now sing without shame. Throw away the bondage of
fear, uncertainty and moral degradation. Rally behind your families,
and colleagues. They will always be there. Sooner or later, the regime
be gone and who will you turn to for support? This is your chance to
exonerate yourselves. Cry our beloved country, Cry!

We call upon the Army and the Air Force. The future never ends with the
of an intimidating regime. But it ends with the support of it. By
virtue of
the trust accorded to your professions, you transcend any institutional
politics and governance...! Yours is apolitical. Stand by the power
bestowed you the privilege to play defensive pillars of the nation and
being the offensive pillars against those who look up to you for
Rise to the cause with the masses. Your future is with them, not with
whose days are numbered. End the terror that you bring to yourselves
your fellow men. Time has come to call it ROT. Don't imprison
yourselves. By
freeing everyone, you free yourselves.  Cry our beloved country, Cry!

Prison Wardens, set the people free. Political prisoners don't have
against you! Let them join the revolution. They are equally responsible
their own fate. Let them confront their accuser. The fight is on, and
fight is for us all! Cry our beloved country, Cry!

We call on our neighbours, the  SADCC, NEPAD and the AU, and all other
continental governmental organizations and civic groups to stand in
solidarity with the oppressed masses of Zimbabwe who have now decided
to put
their fate, and that of their children in your hands by asking; "WILL
HELP US?" We have now decided to put the pride and independence of our
nation in your hands; "WILL YOU HELP US?"  As our driving force, we
will put
our lives, our beliefs, our national pride and the pride of the
continent on
the line in order to rid the nation, the continent and the world of a
malignant tumor that is ZANU PF. We  need your solidarity, moral and
interventional support; "COME TO OUR NEED". Let the period of standing
aloof, and the period of being disinterested be pronounced a thing of
past. Stand up brave Africa and be counted for the sake of freedom of

We call upon the United Nations, the Commonwealth, the European Union,
all governmental groupings on a global scale; "HEAR OUR CRY".
trade-unions, non-aligned groups, church organizations, particularly
WCC; "COME HELP TO WIPE OUR TEARS".  And, to all other organizations
institutions that espouse democracy and good governance; "COME AND
AROUND". Rally around the dehumanized and downtrodden people of
Zimbabwe in
their hour of need. Don't desert us lest the forces of reason and
wheels of
history weigh you and find you wanting. "WE ARE THE WORLD," that we
sing about.

Please Hear Our Cry, A Nation Mourns, Please Open Your Ears And Eyes
Reach Out!  We call upon all the people of all nations to stand with
us. We
even call upon those nations that have supported the ZANU PF regime. We
upon them to abandon their irredeemable sibling and stand in solidarity
the masses that are the abused of the Zimbabwean nation. History will
tribute to your noble deeds. We appeal to China to display an
and altruism, to show selflessness, to exhibit maturity in reason and
pragmatism and to accord a deserved support and solidarity to the
masses of
Zimbabwe. Help us, the people of Zimbabwe who own the land, the natural
resources in it and the soul of the land that the desperate regime
at a quarter cent on the dollar. Help us to redeem ourselves. It is the
enslaved masses who are masters and deserve to be treated accordingly
by the
ZANU PF regime. It is the people of Zimbabwe who go hungry but toil for
nothing. The people are the power now trodden, the jewel now muddied
and the
core of the nation now cornered and under siege. We are prepared to
ourselves. Stand and fight with us. History will absolve you.

We call on the US, Canada, The United Kingdom, France, Germany, and all
nations great and small. This is the time to act and to demonstrate the
spirit that you have day in and day out, preached to the world during
steadfast condemnation of the regime; the spirit that made your nations
they are today. We call on you to and stand with us above any political
hopes of reforming an incorrigible regime. Come and stand in solidarity
masses of Zimbabwe. We deserve your support at this decisive moment in
history. Stand by us!

Success or no success; We, The People of Zimbabwe have decided that if
has to be, the time is now! So has the Almighty. May He see us through
valley of the shadow of death because greater is He that is in us than
that is in our enemy.



Allan A. Banda

Ralph Black
NACFREEZ, Co-Chairperson

Sean DeWitt
ASAP, Executive Director

Zacchaeus Dube

George Khumalo

Norman Z. Khumalo

Nicholas Mada
Zimbabwean Activist for Democracy

Paul Malaba

Sondlo L. Mhlaba

Thokozani Mhlanga

Handel N. Mlilo
NACFREEZ, Co-Chairperson
ACZ, President

Elias Mudzuri

Solomon Nkiwane

Lauri Penn

Mbuso Sibanda

Sis Vee

Ralph B. Black B.Th CRCST

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The Spirit of Christmas comes to Zimbabwean refugees (at a city in South Africa)

Sokwanele - Enough is Enough - Zimbabwe

Sokwanele Report: 15 January 2006

Tiny hands, none of them chubby, clapped and each child bobbed a polite curtsy as pink and white marshmallows, Liquorice All-Sorts and crunchy biscuits appeared in front of their astonished eyes. A few of the smallest hesitated briefly: making choices is something refugee and asylum seeker children from Zimbabwe are no longer accustomed to.

Soon, however, their reticence was forgotten and they were just like any other youngsters at a Christmas party, clutching brightly coloured balloons tied with festive string, experimenting with new toys and dancing around the room in excitement.

One little boy was entranced by a cuddly lion which roared when its tummy was squeezed and had eyes that lit up like miniature headlights. The boy rushed back and forth across the room, demonstrating his new find to family members and friends.

Taking pride of place in the centre of the room was a large pile of colourful toys provided through "Toy Story", a project sponsored by a local radio station. The hula-hoops were an immediate hit. A pretty young girl with neatly braided hair spun one, two and then three so skilfully around her little body that the other children were captivated. Some tried to copy her, others just rolled their hoops up and down, laughing in delight.

Clutching a big, red teddy bear in one hand and a Barbie doll in the other, the grandson of a blind lady could not contain his enthusiasm. His granny had to feel each toy carefully and discuss its merits. Eventually the teddy took pride of place on the chair next to her and the doll was returned to the pile.

Although his grandmother could not watch the festivities, she took great pleasure in the children's laughter and the attentiveness of her son and daughter-in-law. Soon she was tucking into a plate of briyani and chatting to a friend. For a brief moment she could forget the traumatic journey from Zimbabwe, the worries of surviving in a foreign country, and do what ordinary grannies around the world do: enjoy a Christmas party with family and friends.

Zimbabweans are by nature hospitable people. Those who work with the refugees find it inspiring that, even though they now live in demoralising and often squalid surroundings in South African cities and towns, they have retained their dignified politeness and concern for one another. The unspeakable violence perpetrated on Zimbabweans by the Mugabe regime through its armed forces and youth militia does not reflect the intrinsic character of the Zimbabwean people.

Conversations during the party were conducted mainly in Shona. Since the refugees come from different parts of Zimbabwe and are now scattered in a variety of poor areas close to the city centre, some were meeting for the first time. A number had been in South Africa for more than a year, others had left Zimbabwe after the demolition of their homes in mid 2005 by the Mugabe regime. Despite extensive international coverage of the horrific demolitions and the publication of a damning report on "Operation Murambatsvina" (Operation Drive Out the Filth) by the United Nations, the destruction continues at an insidious, low profile level.

Two organisations had helped with additional food for the group. Piled comfortingly in one corner of the room were sacks of grain, fresh bread and tinned foodstuffs delivered by Feedback Food Redistribution, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) committed to helping needy people. Feedback collects good quality excess food that would otherwise have been wasted from a spectrum of outlets and distributes it to social services organisations in some of South Africa's poorest communities.

Gift of the Givers, the largest humanitarian disaster relief organisation of African origin on the continent, had donated a box of its high energy protein supplement, Sibusiso Foods. Gift of the Givers was the first NGO to respond to the 2004 tsunami disaster in Sri Lanka and Somalia, and has been involved in significant humanitarian work in Niger and Malawi. The venue was provided by a church committed to highlighting the plight of the Zimbabwean people and offering a daily soup kitchen service to anyone in need.

Finding a means of earning a living is the biggest challenge refugees face. Thousands of new arrivals go for days without food, shelter or even a change of clothing. Many have been tortured or beaten up by the Mugabe regime and are in dire need of medical attention. Some have been held in youth militia camps and raped repeatedly.

Schooling presents a significant problem for parents who have brought children with them as they are usually desperate for their youngsters to resume some form of education. Most parents whose children have been left behind with family members because of the uncertainties presented by life in a foreign country struggle to send money home for rapidly escalating school fees.

Two especially vulnerable teenagers who had been invited to the party were "Phillip" (18) and "Patricia" (12) - their names have been changed for security reasons. Both of their parents had died in Zimbabwe and they had come to South Africa with their elder sisters. They had grown up in a small farming town but had subsequently moved to Harare and were also victims of Operation Murambatsvina. Their family had lost everything.

Since Philip and Patricia want to continue their schooling in South Africa, an appointment had been set up with a social worker at one of the organisations tasked by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees to assist asylum seekers. However, since funding is very limited and it is estimated there could be three million or more desperate Zimbabweans who have fled to South Africa, organisations in this country are ill equipped to deal with the escalating influx.

A few weeks back, Phillip, who looks far younger than his age and is reed thin, was attacked by a group of local youths who stabbed him and robbed him of his pathetically few possessions. He was unable to attend the party because it was held on a Saturday and he generates a small income selling sweets to holidaymakers. At the organisers' instigation, Patricia carefully tied together a bundle of treats for him in a well-used bag.

Patricia and her older sisters expressed the family's concern that there was still no news of their other brother, "Richard" (19). He had disappeared a few weeks previously and was thought to have been picked up by the South African police as an illegal immigrant. Their greatest fear was that he had been sent to the Lindela Detention Centre outside Johannesburg, or had been deported. At Lindela, thousands of Zimbabweans continue to be held prior to deportation, and a steadily growing number has died. Lawyers for Human Rights have contacted the authorities at Lindela, but so far Richard has not been found.

It is possible he has been taken from Lindela and forced to board the overnight train from Johannesburg to Mussina, which hauls vast numbers of illegal migrants back to the Zimbabwean border every couple of weeks. Since the detainees are so fearful of returning to the hunger, oppression, disease and hopelessness they face back home, many risk serious injury or death by jumping from the moving train. Detainees who are handed over to the Zimbabwean police at the Beit Bridge border post are frequently beaten before being dumped penniless at the roadside outside the small, drab, dusty town, with no means of getting home. Without cell phones it is virtually impossible for family members to remain in contact, so Phillip and his siblings can only hope and pray that their brother is still alive.

It was getting late and some of the smallest children were asleep in their mothers' arms, still clutching newfound toys. The adults helped to tidy the room, then the sacks of grain and tins of food were piled into one of the organisers' car. The blind lady declined a lift back to her dingy accommodation because she had arranged to meet someone at the nearby taxi rank.

At that time of day the rank was especially busy and people were congregated among the piles of waste paper and other refuse, talking animatedly. Taxis took off rapidly in different directions and it was hard to imagine how a sightless person could cope in the apparent chaos. By rights she should have been at home with her family in Zimbabwe, crocheting the beautiful tablecloths that tourists from around the world used to flock to buy. Instead, she spends her days begging for food at traffic lights so that she too can make a contribution to the meagre family pot.

If people in South Africa and further afield realised the depth of the refugees' pain and the extent of their struggle to survive and overcome homesickness in the face of widespread xenophobia, offers of help would doubtless pour in. Every act of kindness, however small, can make a difference to Zimbabweans who, through no fault of their own, find themselves destitute in a foreign and often hostile land.

Anyone willing to provide assistance to Zimbabwean refugees in South Africa or elsewhere is invited to contact either the Central Methodist Mission, Johannesburg, or the Zimbabwe Action Support Group. Both organisations are in touch with a spectrum of churches and other support organisations that are struggling to help the millions of desperate, destitute refugees. Urgent needs include food, clothing, blankets, funds for medical assistance, training, basic set-up projects etc. The refugees have not only to support themselves in a foreign and often hostile country but also support family members back home. The Central Methodist Mission is currently setting up training programmes which require urgent funding. The Zimbabwe Action Support Group assists destitute Zimbabweans, notably pregnant women and young children, on arrival in South Africa.

Central Methodist Mission - Johannesburg: Tel: +27 11 333 5926 or +27 11 337 5938 Fax: +27 11 333 3254
Bishop Paul Verryn
Zimbabwe Action Support Group - Johannesburg Cell: +27 72 032 4223
Remember Moyo

Latest report by African Commission on Human and People's Rights condemns violations of human rights and mass displacements in Zimbabwe

Sokwanele notes that the African Union has released a second report on the grave situation regarding human rights in Zimbabwe compiled by its African Commission on Human and People's Rights. The first, a damning report which slammed Harare's record of abuses, was produced in 2002. It concluded that there were flagrant human rights abuses and arbitrary arrests in Zimbabwe and was the organisation's most serious African indictment of President Mugabe's authoritarian regime. African foreign ministers adopted the report but then agreed in July 2004 not to publish it as the Zimbabwe government claimed it had not had enough to time to study the full document.

The African Commission on Human and People's Rights' latest resolution expresses "alarm" at "the number of internally displaced persons and the violations of fundamental individuals and collective rights resulting from the forced evictions being carried out by the government of Zimbabwe." It "urges the African Union to renew the mandate of the African Union Envoy to Zimbabwe to investigate the human rights implications and humanitarian consequences of the mass evictions and demolitions."

The strongly worded document also "urges the government of Zimbabwe to cease the practice of forced evictions throughout the country, and to adhere to its obligations under the African Charter on Human and People's Rights and other international human rights instruments to which Zimbabwe is a party..."


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Twins in court over loin cloths


15/01/2006 16:58  - (SA)

Michael Hartnack

Harare - Twin Zimbabwean brothers were charged with indecent exposure after
strolling to an up-market Harare shopping mall wearing only traditional
goatskin loin cloths, reported a state-run newspaper on Sunday.

Tafadzwa and Tapiwanashe Fichiani, 22, returned recently from several years
in Britain, vowing to promote an authentically African lifestyle, reported
the Sunday Mail.

They were arrested at their home in Harare's plush Mount Pleasant suburb
after complaints by indignant shoppers about their revealing attire, said
police spokesperson Andrew Phiri. They were released pending prosecution.

Tafadzwa told the paper they would continue wearing the loin cloths, known
as nhembe, regardless of the penalty, a maximum fine of ZIM$25 000 (about

"We do not care what people say or think about us because we regard them as
colonised," his brother, Tapiwanashe, was quoted as saying.

Won't sleep on Western beds

"Why do they laugh at someone wearing nhembe, yet their ancestors wore
nhembe before they were colonised?"

Despite coming from a wealthy family, the two refuse to sleep on
Western-style beds and are vegetarians.

They plan to move out of their expensive house in what was, until 1979, a
whites-only suburb, to continue "God's work".

By opting for traditional Zimbabwean attire, the brothers are breaking with
fashions set since independence from Britain in 1980 by the
always-immaculately dressed President Robert Mugabe, 81.

Mugabe was noted for buying his suits from London's Saville Row tailors
until the United States and European Union imposed targeted sanctions in
2000 curbing his right to travel in protest at alleged human rights abuses.

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Mugabe 'annexing cops, army'


            15/01/2006 16:58  - (SA)

            Harare - Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has
written to President Robert Mugabe, accusing him of politicising the army,
police and civil service, reported the country's privately-owned Standard
newspaper on Sunday.

            Tsvangirai, who heads a faction of the splintered Movement for
Democratic Change party, is reported to have accused the longtime Zimbabwean
leader of turning members of the armed forces and the feared central
intelligence organisation (CIO) into ruling-party "functionaries".

            "It is... quite clear that under your direct command, and under
the present Zimbabwe defence forces and Zimbabwe republic police (ZRP)
officer corps, the army and police are being transformed into organised
armed combat units of your political party," read part of Tsvangirai's
letter, quoted by the Standard.

            'Attempt to ruthlessly quash opposition'

            The opposition leader accused 81-year-old Mugabe, who has
indicated he may step down in 2008, of trying to "engineer" a succession
plan "in which a hand-picked successor will inherit your despotic rule",
said the newspaper.

            "We are well aware that this politicisation of the army, police
and CIO and senior civil servants is a product of your desperate attempt to
ruthlessly quash all political opposition, both inside and outside your
party," read the letter.

            The MDC, which has been considerably weakened by several months
of bickering, has complained for a long time that the police and armed
forces are far from neutral.

            In recent years, they have been used to quash rare public
protests by government critics, while ahead of presidential polls in 2002,
senior army, police and prison officers gave a press conference saying they
would not accept an MDC leader.

            ZIM$100bn lawsuit

            Mugabe and his government, in turn, accuse the MDC of being a
front for Western interests and Britain.

            Spokesmen for Tsvangirai were not available to confirm the

            A rival faction to the one led by Tsvangirai has recently lodged
a ZIM$100bn (about R6m) lawsuit against him after he accused them of working
hand-in-glove with the ruling party in a bid to eliminate him. - Sapa-dpa

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Zimbabwe farmers in Nigeria

Sunday Independent, Nigeria

Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed is the Commissioner for Finance and Economic Development, Kwara State, in this interview with Bolajoko Ogungbile, he spoke about the efforts being made by Kwara State government to turn the ‘civil service state’ to an industrial one. He also spoke on the Federal Revenue Sharing formula.  Excerpts:

How much has been expended on the Zimbabwean farmers project, and when are we to expect the results?

Just as you know that farming is not a thing where you expect immediate results, the Zimbabwean farmers project is a commercial farming activity, and it’s being done on a very large scale. That means it requires a lot of funding. In Nigeria today, our commercial banks and funding agencies do not have products that are in consonance with the dynamics of commercial agric farming. These are part of the initiatives that the president himself has put together and has rightly established a presidential initiative to come together with financial institutions to fashion out ways of funding commercial agric business in Nigeria. Because you see, our funding requirements are usually short-term; and agric funding requires medium to long term. And unless the dynamics are made to work in consonance with one another, it will be difficult to fund medium to long-term businesses with short term funding instrument. What we have done today in the Zimbabwean farmers initiative; as I told you, it’s a commercial banking business; so, we have been able to get close to N700 million from commercial banks that have supported the structure up to the current level. But that is just to jump-start the project. Banks have come in; we have looked at various funding requirements, and they’ve come up with various options. I’m sure by first week of January, we’ll see commercial banks coming in under the small and medium equity and investment schemes to be invested in the farming business, which automatically makes go into the full swing activity we expect them to reach in the next few years.

Many people don’t understand the funding of the Zimbabwean farming project. Is it that the state loaned them the capital or the state is funding them and owns the harvest?

All around the world, the trend is what we call ‘public-private partnering’. How does that work? The public sector will provide the enabling environment for the private sector to flourish. It is against that background that the governor said look, let us invite private and public investors. Let them come and establish industries that would transform the economic activities of the state. It’s just coincidental that this one is a farming activity. Zimbabwe farmers are commercial farmers. We provided the enabling environment – the roads, land, electricity etc. They would come, take this land; they’ve tested the soil; they will now go to the commercial banks, borrow money and do business. The money we have lent them is what has gone into the site and services – the initial capital outlay that is needed to prepare the ground for the commercial administrative price. That is what we have supported them with; they have come with competence; skills, which they have shown to the banks, which the banks have seen and have lent them money.

But people fear that this Zimbabwean farmers project will create a kind of ‘apartheid, in which over time, the owners of the land won’t have access to their land again?

Let us understand this thing very well. I know a lot of people have created pictures out of not being properly informed. We brought these people to come and invest; they’ve come as commercial farmers. Already they have created employment in that location. Whoever used to own that land has been compensated monetarily. And the farmers who have their farms located around that axis are enjoying the services of these Zimbabwean farmers; because over time, they will enjoy what is called the outgrowers scheme – that is, you have your farm close to Zimbabwean farmers. Anytime he is applying maybe herbicides, naturally because your farm is very close, he is going to do it inclusive of your farm. When he is doing anything that is related to farming, you are going to enjoy the same service. Look at it from this angle: since when have people started suffering apartheid in Nigeria? It doesn’t exist. South Africa has a peculiar situation. The White man settled there. We are inviting Zimbabweans; you have Chinese in Ikorodu there who have established Nichemtex. Why haven’t people in Ikorodu suffered apartheid? Is it because this one is for farming? Supposing they have taken the land to establish textile factory, fish farm or for tourism, would it have been different? It has nothing to do with apartheid or no apartheid. In fact, it is of great benefit to the people in that location; because they will enjoy employment, new ways of doing farming; they will enjoy new technology, get better exposure, and most importantly, they will even open up their axis; because that location where you have the commercial farming will never remain the same again. If you go there today, their market has grown twice or three times.

In land clearing alone, these people spend up to N14 million every month. Where do you think that money is going to? It has gone into their economy in that location. So, let us see the practical side of this thing. And this is not the first commercial farm in the country anyway. All those companies that have established farms here and there; the likes of Afcot. Afcot is  not owned by Nigerians. These are foreign textile companies; they have cotton farms all over the place which they backwardly integrated. Why didn’t people shout that their farms are going to be taken away from them? People are just trying to be mischievous; that is why they have brought all these issues.

There is a controversy over the sharing formula with regard to federal allocation. What is your take on this?

We don’t need a hard and fast rule to this. Where are the people located? Ordinarily, the bulk of funding should go to the state and local government, and the smaller part should go to the federal level. But because of the way the federal government is structured, it is carrying too much load on its head. There are a lot of loads that should be divested to the state and local government levels. If these things are done, there won’t be too much pressure on the federal government. And it’s only then that it would be desirable to tilt the current ratio of sharing as it is now. Because it does not make sense to spend so much at the federal level and we have more people at the state and local level. That’s where we have our people; and we are closer to the people. So, the money should be more at this level for the use of these people.


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Zimbabwe applies for 110 million for fighting TB

Xinhua 2006-01-15 03:54:40

          HARARE, Jan. 14 (Xinhuanet) -- The Zimbabwean government has
applied for 110 million U.S. dollars to get a new drug for fighting TB, a
Cabinet Minister said on Saturday.

          The Health and Child Welfare Minister said the application was
made to the Global Fund on AIDS, TB and Malaria.

          David Parirenyatwa said the move could result in 15 million
dollars being channeled to fighting TB and 30 million to HIV/AIDS and

          The Facility Design Criteria drug combination cuts the number of
tablet a patient takes a day. TB patients should take a total of 14 tablets,
but some were failing to take the full course due to the quantity involved.

          Parirenyatwa said the new drug would not replace the Direct
Observed Treatment Strategy (DOTS). Both would be used.

          Some African countries such as South Africa and Kenya were already
using Facility Design Criteria.

          TB is a major opportunistic infection for people living with HIV
and AIDS, making it one of the major killers in Zimbabwe.

          "As soon as we receive funding from the Global Fund, the new range
of drug-fixed dose combination will be introduced," he said.Enditem

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Far cry from home

Sunday Independent, SA

      For many Zimbabwean economic refugees Jozi can be a mixed bag of
opportunity and hostility
            January 15, 2006

            By Tanya Farber

            Miriam Moyo*, like many hopefuls from Zimbabwe, came to Jozi in
the hope of earning a living so that she could support her family.

            Her working life here has been a mixed bag of cooking Ethiopian
food, taking care of an ageing grandmother, nurturing newborn twins, and
washing and cooking for an elderly couple in Houghton.

            She tries to makes ends meet but, she says, "I don't like South
Africa", and she counts the months, weeks and days until she can visit her
family back home.

            Miriam was born in the main hospital in Bulawayo in 1974, but
after her birth, she and her mother returned to the rural area where her
mother was living.

            She was an only child and they remained there until she reached
school-going age. Then they moved to Bulawayo where her mother sold

            They stayed in a single rented room and Miriam was enrolled at
St Bernard's Primary School, a private Roman Catholic school, where her
mother believed she would receive a high standard of education. All her
subjects, apart from Ndebele, were taught in English.

            "I never met my father," she says, "and in my culture it would
not be right for me to ask my mother too many questions about him.
            "She is also the kind of person who would not want me to."

            After primary school, Miriam attended the Amhlophe Secondary
School where she completed her O-levels.

            In 1997, she fell pregnant and moved in with the father of her
            Two years later, she had a second child, but by then her hopes
for a stable and loving relationship had disappeared.

            "In the beginning he was okay, but sometimes you never know a
person until you stay with them," she says.

            With no financial support and no prospect of work in Zimbabwe's
depressed economy, Miriam decided to join her cousin, who had a job in

            "My cousin paid for me to come here at the end of 2002," she
says, "but then she passed away the following year. I now support two of her
three children - the two who are still under 18."

            Jozi was a very different world from the one she had imagined.
"I had heard so much about this city," she says. "Everyone spoke about
Johannesburg, eGoli, and said that everything here was so beautiful, the
buildings and everything.

            "I also thought everybody would have formal jobs. I didn't
expect to find people selling vegetables in the streets.

            "Also, my cousin had a really good job in an expensive
restaurant and I expected to find similar work. But I found most Zimbabweans
were working as domestic workers, gardeners or security guards."

            Miriam stayed in her cousin's flat in the inner city, which
wasn't too crowded because her cousin's job was relatively lucrative.

            "Apart from us, there was only one person staying in the living
room," she recalls.

            She couldn't find a similar job and had to make do with cooking
and selling food for Ethiopians in a rented room in Jeppe Street.

            After four months, however, she landed a weekend job looking
after an old woman in Sandringham Gardens.

            "My uncle's girlfriend called me to relieve her from her job
looking after an old granny on the weekends, and that's when I left the

            To supplement the income from this weekend job, she would also
wash clothes twice a week for customers whom she had met at the makeshift

            "Before the job in Sandringham, I didn't think Jo'burg was so
            she says, "because I had only ever been to town where I worked
and lived. But, then I saw the parts of Jo'burg that made people say it was

            "Granny", as Miriam fondly calls her, "was a very nice woman,
and could walk on her own and didn't need help in that way. I had to clean
the bathroom and toilet, make the bed and three meals, and also help if she
had friends over.

            "She had an apartment, and I used to sleep there on the
            Once Miriam had entered the domestic world of the middle class,
every other job came by word of mouth.

            "Granny's granddaughter got me a job looking after newborn
twins. At first, it was only on Mondays, but then it was Thursdays too."
            It is now three years since Miriam came to Jozi in search of
work, and she is currently employed as a domestic worker in upmarket

            "I still live in town," she says, "but the flat I now stay in
has got a lot more people in it. Sometimes, I just want to be by myself."

            She wakes up at 6.30am and leaves at 7am on foot to Hillbrow.
"In town, you have to queue for too long to get a taxi, so I would rather
walk across to Hillbrow where it's much easier."

            She says the worst aspect of sharing a flat with many people is
that they all need to use the bathroom before work.

            Of the use of the kitchen during the supper rush, she says:
"It's okay, because we are lucky enough to have a four-plate stove."

            Miriam recalls that, before she came to Jozi she had heard of
Zimbabweans living in flats.

            "I expected two or three people in a flat," she says, "because
at home we won't have everybody staying together like that.

            "Then I got to Jo'burg and I saw so many people sharing. There
will be many beds in a living room, and you will find husbands and wives
having to share a room with other families."

            But, like most other economic refugees, Miriam has to overlook
the problems of being in a city that doesn't always treat her kindly.

            "There are just no jobs in Zim," she says. "If a company is
there, it has been there since I grew up and it won't expand at all.

            "The only jobs there are nursing and teaching, but you have to
pass your O-levels and you have to have maths and English if you want to go
to college.

            "Here, companies are always expanding, and as a domestic worker
you can earn more than a teacher back home."

            But, she says, you have to make many sacrifices to be here.

            "I don't like town because I didn't grow up in such an area. For
me the best time of the year is in April or December when I get to go home."

            * not her real name

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