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- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

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New Zimbabwe

Mugabe blasphemy story journalist brutally attacked

By Staff Reporter
DUMISANI Muleya, the chief reporter of the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper
was recovering Saturday after being savagely attacked by three unidentified
men outside a Harare hotel on Friday night.

Muleya, once denounced as a “terrorist” by President Mugabe’s garrulous
chief spokesman Jonathan Moyo, was left with a cut to the top of his left
eye and had to receive some stitches, a colleague Mthulisi Mathuthu said.

”He was outside a Harare hotel and a car just stopped in front of him and
three men came out,” Mathuthu said. “They then started beating him
repeatedly and he sought urgent medical attention from the beating.”

Muleya and his editor Iden Wetherell were arrested last week over a story
that stated that President Mugabe had commandeered a plane to come and pick
him up while on a foreign trip in the Far East.

Information Minister Moyo dismissed the report as “blasphemy”, prompting the
police to arrest Muleya, his editor and two other colleagues.

"Those behind this deliberate falsehood calculated to bring the Office of
the President into disrepute must be held accountable," Moyo ranted. "This
means the editor and the two writers will be held to account for their
lawless and fictitious claims."
Writing in the Sunday Times following his incarceration, a defiant Muleya
said: “Amid all this hot air and political steam, Moyo failed to deny the
essence of the story, which was that Mugabe had taken an Air Zimbabwe
aircraft to the Far East.

”In a bid to build a case, the police claimed that the word "commandeer" -
used in our story - meant "to hijack". This was laughable and ridiculous. We
were arrested for semantics - the meaning and interpretation of the slight
nuances of a single word.”

Muleya, Wetherell and the paper’s news editor Vincent Kahiya were granted
bail of Z$20 000 after appearing at the Harare Magistrates' Court on charges
of "criminal defamation" against President Mugabe. They will appear in court
again on January 29.

Attacks on journalists from the independent media have escalated since the
passing of what media watchers say is a repugnant piece of legislation, the
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act last year.

Reacting to the journalists’ arrest and threats by Moyo, the
secretary-general of Reporters Without Borders Robert Menard last week said
the year had started on a bad note.

"The year 2004 opened in the worst possible way for press freedom in
Zimbabwe," Menard said.

"Three journalists have already been arrested and authorities are still
trying to prevent the Daily News from publishing despite High Court rulings
in its favour," he said.

"We are extremely concerned about the working conditions for Zimbabwe
journalists and call on the authorities to pull back. The people have the
right to diverse and independent news and information," he added.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said the fresh arrests compromise the
independence and entrenched freedoms of the press.

"ZLHR views the action of the police as a calculated and deliberate attempt
to muzzle the independent media and deprive Zimbabweans from fully enjoying
the right to freedom of expression," the body said.

ZLHR said it was concerned that if such a tragic trend was to continue, it
would be impossible for journalists to continue carrying out their mandate
to keep the public informed.

"Such repeated and now all too frequent attacks on the independent press are
not only unfortunate, but also detrimental to press freedom," ZLHR said.
ZLHR took a swipe at some individuals who have gone out of their way to
prosecute journalists.

"ZLHR is also concerned that the harassment of the independent journalists
might be preparatory steps, on the part of certain elements within the state
that are fighting to muzzle the press, to forcibly shut down newspapers as
they did with the Daily News and the Daily News on Sunday. ZLHR criticises
in the strongest terms such a blatant disregard of the independent press and
demands that the press be left to freely perform its core function, that of
informing the public."

Amnesty International also rapped Zimbabwean authorities for ignoring court
orders and the continued use of unconstitutional laws.

"Amnesty International has repeatedly expressed serious concern about the
use of national legislation to suppress freedom of expression and silence
dissent in Zimbabwe," it said.

"Many of the provisions of newly enacted legislation such as the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act directly contravene Zimbabwe's
constitution and international human rights standards. In recent months the
Zimbabwe authorities have stepped up attacks against independent media
outlets and journalists."

The United States government also condemned the arrests of the journalists
and called on the government to cease harassment of the independent press.

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Mail and Guardian

Zimbabwean police hit MDC offices


      24 January 2004 10:30

Zimbabwean police on Friday raided the offices of the country's main
opposition party, the MDC, in search of "subversive publications". This
comes a day after Mbeki proudly announced that talks between the MDC and the
ruling party of Mugabe aimed at ending Zimbabwe's political crisis would
start "soon".

"More than 15 police officers, some in riot gear, raided the MDC
headquarters in Harare this afternoon and carried out some search of what
they claimed to be subversive material," MDC spokesperson Paul Temba Nyathi
said in a statement.

He said that after about an hour of combing through the offices, the police,
who had a search warrant, took away "a lot of our party material which is
neither subversive nor prejudicial to the state in any way".

Documents taken away included the party policy document, in-house magazines,
workers' telephone contact books and personal documents belonging to MDC

"After encouraging remarks by (South African) President Thabo Mbeki
yesterday (Thursday) indicating a commitment by (President Robert) Mugabe
and (ruling) Zanu-PF towards entering into a process of dialogue, this
latest anti-democratic act is a setback towards creating an environment
conducive for meaningful inter-party dialogue," said Nyathi.

Mbeki Thursday announced that talks between the MDC and the governing party
of Mugabe aimed at ending Zimbabwe's political crisis would start "soon".

MDC officials said although the party had always been ready for dialogue
with Mugabe, there has not been much on the ground to show from government
that it was now ready to formally meet the MDC.

Mbeki told reporters in Pretoria: "I'm pleased to say the two sides have
agreed to enter into formal negotiations. They will soon enter into formal
negotiations." - Sapa-AFP

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Mugabe in SA on secret visit
January 24, 2004, 06:58 PM

Robert Mugabe, the embattled Zimbabwean President, discreetly slipped into
South Africa earlier today. The duration and purpose of his trip is unclear.

However, Mugabe's visit comes just days after President Thabo Mbeki
announced that Zanu-PF and the opposition MDC would hold formal talks. The
MDC has since said it knows nothing about the negotiations.

In October last year there was wide spread speculation that Mugabe had come
to Johannesburg for medical treatment after allegedly suffering either a
stroke or a bad fall.
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From Africa Confidential (UK), 23 January

Banking breakdowns

Financial and political casualties mount as the struggle to succeed
President Mugabe intensifies

Political kingpin Phillip Chiyangwa has plenty of enemies but his arrest on
10 January on charges of obstructing a police probe into banking corruption
has rocked the political establishment. Member of Parliament for Chinhoyi
and an ally of presidential contender Emmerson Mnangagwa, Chiyangwa's status
as a distant relative of President Robert Gabriel Mugabe and also Zimbabwe
African National Union-Patriotic Front Chairman in Mugabe's Mashonaland West
Province seem to have convinced him he was untouchable. Senior Zanu PF
officials have seized on his arrest as proof that the government won't
protect its own in its efforts to crack down on corruption. This follows
several embarrassing revelations about cronyism in the land resettlement
programme and signs that more than a third of banks are near to collapse.
Police say Chiyangwa was arrested because he tried to protect two Directors
of ENG Capital Asset Management, Nyasha Watyoka and Gilbert Muponda, who are
charged with defrauding investors. ENG crashed last December after failing
to account for Z$61 billion (US$ 1.1 bn. at the offical rate, $136 million
on the street.) of investors' funds. The ENG contagion could spread: three
other asset management companies to which it was linked are being probed.
Chiyangwa's supporters claim a political frame-up. His arrest quickly
followed a statement by Vice-President Joseph Msika (who was acting
President while Mugabe travelled to Malaysia ­ in search of a retirement
home, say optimistic oppositionists) promising that the government would
deal with wayward politicians abusing their influence and powers. Chiyangwa
is seen as a strong supporter of Mnangagwa's claims to the post-Mugabe
succession. Mnangagwa's key rivals ­ Defence Minister Sidney Sekeramayi and
ZANU Chairperson John Nkomo ­ won't shed any tears over the arrest of a
Mnangagwa cheerleader such as Chiyangwa.

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US Travel Warning Angers Zimbabwe Government, Police

      Copyright © 2004, Dow Jones Newswires

      HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP)--Zimbabwe's Foreign Ministry and police reacted
angrily to the U.S. State Department's warning to U.S. citizens to leave the
southern African country because of the security situation, a state-run
newspaper reported on Saturday.

      "It is a deliberate distortion of the facts, bent on destroying the
tourism industry which is on the mend," Pavelyn Musaka, a Foreign Ministry
spokeswoman told daily newspaper, The Herald.

      Despite the killing early this week of a white farmer, police
superintendent Oliver Mandipaka denied there had been any increase in crime.

      "We are able to contain the situation to maintain peace and stability.
We have never regarded criminals as a threat. This country is one of the
safest places in the region," he said.

      Francis Ngwenya, president of the Hospitality Association of
Zimbabwe - representing hoteliers and restaurateurs - said they wouldn't be
affected by the advisory since they had shifted their focus market to Asia,
in line with recent calls by President Robert Mugabe.

      "The country's tourism industry would not be affected if Americans
leave," he said.

      Reporting the murder on Monday of Peter Sivertsen on a farm near
Kwekwe, 200 miles southwest of the capital, the Commercial Farmers Union
deplored "the current spate of criminal activity and general lawlessness."

      Last month, an Australian accountant was abducted from a tea estate in
Zimbabwe's eastern districts, forced to drink acid and killed.

      On Thursday, the U.S. State Department warned citizens: "Commercial
farms should be avoided at all times, especially those occupied by settlers
or so called war veterans, who are typically young government supporters
acting with impunity outside the law."

      Urging U.S. citizens to consider "departure from the country," the
State Department said the economy was "in precipitous decline with extremely
high rates of unemployment and inflation.

      "The humanitarian crisis is expected to worsen in the coming months
and may lead to unrest and possible large scale migration of Zimbabweans to
urban or border areas, with further disruption and an increase in crime and

      Since early 2000, a "fast track" land redistribution program has seen
the seizure of former white owned farms and a cut in food production by more
than half.

      Western observers have rejected parliamentary and presidential polls
in which Mugabe claimed victory, alleging widespread rigging and

      Police late Friday raided the downtown Harare offices of the main
opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, said party spokesman
Paul Themba Nyathi. Police left with bundles of documents but made no
arrests, he said.

      (END) Dow Jones Newswires

      January 24, 2004 06:53 ET (11:53 GMT)

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From The Daily Telegraph (UK), 24 January

Nigerian leader insists Mugabe is prepared for 'formal talks'

The Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday compounded confusion
over Zimbabwe by re-asserting that its government and opposition had agreed
to formal talks, despite categorical denials by both sides. His claim that
discussions aimed at ending the long-running political crisis had been
agreed came the day after a similar suggestion by President Thabo Mbeki of
South Africa spread bewilderment and irritation among Zimbabwe's opposition.
Senior officials of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change said their
side had made no agreements on formal talks beyond a promise, made 18 months
ago, that they would be prepared to negotiate as long as there were no
pre-conditions. "The only contact we have had is in parliament where we
shout at each other," Didymus Mutasa, Zanu PF's external affairs secretary,
said. Mr Obasanjo, visiting London as chairman of the Commonwealth, said he
had "been left in no doubt" when he went to Zimbabwe before Christmas that
both sides had embarked on "informal talks". "I heard after CHOGM (the
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in December) that they had agreed
to turn the informal talks into exploratory talks - and more recently formal
talks - during which they will discuss issues of a new constitution, land
reform and the structure of a future government."

Mr Obasanjo's claims left Western diplomats puzzled. "No one has been able
to verify that even talks about talks have been taking place and we are as
puzzled as anyone about these claims," a Commonwealth diplomat said. An MDC
spokesman, Paul Thmeba Nyathi, said: "The MDC has always been ready to talk,
but nothing is happening, not even informal contact." Mr Mbeki has been
accused at home and abroad of being an apologist for Zimbabwe's president,
Robert Mugabe. Hoping to show his soft approach was paying dividends, Mr
Mbeki has repeatedly told Western leaders, most notably President George W
Bush, that a resolution to Zimbabwe's political impasse would be reached by
July following secret negotiations. Analysts believe Mr Obasanjo's backing
of Mr Mbeki's unsubstantiated claims was not merely based on a need to
demonstrate solidarity with his fellow African leader. "The only explanation
that makes any kind of sense is that Mbeki and Obasanjo have been given
confidential undertakings by Mugabe that he will embark on talks with the
opposition," said a Commonwealth official. Weighing on Mugabe's mind may
also be the need to demonstrate some kind of compromise by the time the
European Union meets next month to decide whether to renew sanctions on
leading Zanu PF members.

Yesterday, the offices of the MDC in Bulawayo were raided by detectives who
said they were looking for "weapons of war". The MDC's justice spokesman,
David Coltart, said: "Police from the Law and Order section are at our
offices, and say they are looking for subversive documents and weapons of
war." The raid comes a day after all MDC MPs walked out of parliament after
a deafening row broke out in the chamber when they were called "enemies" of
state by Patrick Chinamasa, leader of the house and justice minister. Police
also broke up a meeting of mainly opposition supporters at a hotel in Harare
city centre this week, saying it might endanger "national security".

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Channelnews Asia

Commonwealth chief urges Zimbabwe talks

      LONDON : Commonwealth Secretary General Don McKinnon welcomed a report
that formal talks between political rivals in Zimbabwe would start soon to
resolve the country's crisis.

      McKinnon was speaking after a meeting in London with Nigerian
President Olusegun Obasanjo, who suggested that any talks in Zimbabwe could
be a first step towards the country's re-entry to the Commonwealth.

      South African President Thabo Mbeki announced Thursday that formal
talks between the ruling party of Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe and his
arch-foe Morgan Tsvangirai would be held "soon".

      But Tsvangirai's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
dismissed Mbeki's remarks as "nothing new".

      McKinnon said Friday: "It has always been our view that substantive
talks between the MDC and (Mugabe's) ZANU-PF are a prerequisite to anything
that can happen in Zimbabwe to alleviate the present position.

      "If this is beginning to happen now, then that is a very, very good

      McKinnon added: "Ultimately, we do want to see evidence of what is
emerging from these talks."

      Zimbabwe was plunged into crisis after Mugabe's re-election in polls
in March 2002, which the opposition and international observers said were

      Mugabe pulled Zimbabwe out of the Commonwealth, a club of mainly
former British colonies, on December 7, angry at its decision to prolong his
country's suspension from the grouping.

      Obasanjo, who is currently the chairman of the Commonwealth, said in
London: "If we have a situation where the government and MDC are working
together, agreeing a new constitution, formally endorsing that new
constitution and moving on, then we will have left the realm of conjecture
and promises and come back to the realm of action and reality.

      "I believe such action and reality should enhance the possibility of
re-entry of Zimbabwe into the Commonwealth."

      Obasanjo also indicated that he was opposed to any move to pull
England's cricket team out of a tour of Zimbabwe planned for November.

      "I believe that sport should be used as an instrument of friendship,
an instrument of cooperation," said Obasanjo, adding that "sport can be used
to warm up the frostiness in the political relationship."

      The England and Wales Cricket Board have set themselves a deadline of
next Thursday to decide whether they will go ahead with the Zimbabwe tour or
bow to pressure to pull out because of international concerns over Mugabe's

      - AFP

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Daily News

      Daily News gets breathing space

      Date:24-Jan, 2004

      THE Daily News will be able to continue publishing pending a hearing
next week on applications brought against its parent company by the Ministry
of Information and the government-appointed Media and Information Commission
(MIC), lawyers said after a hearing in the High Court yesterday.

      An agreement was reached yesterday in High Court judge Rita Makarau’s
chambers to consolidate two separate applications brought before the court
by the MIC and the Information Ministry.

      Justice Makarau indicated that the consolidated application would be
heard in the High Court on Wednesday or Thursday next week.

      “The parties consented to consolidate the two matters since the relief
being sought was the same,” ANZ legal adviser Gugulethu Moyo told The Daily

      The Ministry of Information and the MIC, which last year denied ANZ
the registration it needs to publish its newspaper titles, had sought an
order barring ANZ from publishing The Daily News and its sister paper, The
Daily News on Sunday.

      Commenting after yesterday’s hearing, Moyo said the two publications
would be able to continue operating unless a court order barred them from
doing so.

      She said: “What this means is that we can continue publishing until
the matter is heard next week. Until there is a court order that alters our
current legal position, we are free to publish.”

      A visibly disappointed Tafataona Mahoso, chairman of the MIC, told The
Daily News that the Commission had wanted the matter to be heard earlier
than the Wednesday or Thursday indicated by the judge.

      Shaking his head and throwing up his arms, Mahoso said: “That is what
the judge has ruled and there is nothing we can do about it. We would have
preferred an earlier date, either Monday or Tuesday. If that is the date we
have been given, we still take it.”

      The MIC last September denied ANZ registration, saying the publishing
company had been operating unlawfully because it did not seek registration
as required by the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act

      Under AIPPA, all journalists and media houses must register with the
MIC so that they can operate in Zimbabwe.

      Ruling last October on an appeal by ANZ against the MIC’s decision,
the Administrative Court said the MIC was improperly constituted and that a
properly constituted Commission should grant ANZ a licence.

      During appeals by the MIC, the ruling has been upheld by the
Administrative Court, and the High Court has also twice ruled that ANZ
should be allowed to publish its newspapers.

      On Wednesday, High Court judge Tendai Uchena ordered the police out of
ANZ’s head office and printing factory, an order the law enforcement agents
have complied with, enabling the company to resume publishing.

      The police have previously prevented publication of ANZ’s titles,
despite court orders in favour of the company.

      The United States government and local civic groups this week
commended Justice Uchena’s ruling, urging the Harare authorities to
re-examine AIPPA.

      The US State Department said in a statement: “We hope that the
Zimbabwean government will address the flaws of the Access to Information
and Protection of Privacy Act, which has been used as a pretext to shut down
The Daily News and arrest editors and journalists of the Zimbabwean
independent newspaper.”

      “We applaud The Daily News’ perseverance and determination in the face
of the Zimbabwean government’s actions to gag the paper since September, in
defiance of three court orders instructing the police to vacate the
newspaper’s premises and allow publishing to resume.”

      The State Department added: “We hope this development signals a
positive change in Zimbabwe’s approach to rule of law and freedom of speech

      Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions secretary-general Wellington
Chibhebhe said: “The ZCTU takes this opportunity to applaud the efforts of
the ANZ to put The Daily News back on the streets. Their perseverance and
belief in the court shows in them a patriotic stance in their endeavours to
exercise the freedom of expression as well as being great proponents of

      Staff Reporter

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Daily News

      Lawyers attack Herald retraction

      Date:24-Jan, 2004

      LAWYERS for opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday protested to
Judge President Paddington Garwe that the State-controlled Herald newspaper
had not given due prominence to a correction it ran yesterday of a
misleading headline on a report it ran on Thursday on Tsvangirai’s on-going
trial for treason.

      South African George Bizos, who is leading Tsvangirai’s defence team
told Garwe: “My Lord, the paper did not give the correction due prominence
to the publicity it got on that front page story. Other papers have
correctly reported on the matter, including a paper I have with me here.”

      Acting Attorney General Bharat Patel, who is representing the State in
the case against Tsvangirai, told the High Court that the publication by The
Herald on page two of its edition yesterday of a correction of the headline
in question was sufficient.

      On Thursday, Garwe conceded to claims by defence lawyers that The
Herald had misrepresented the proceedings of the court by implying that
Tsvangirai had implicated the United States government in an alleged coup

      The Herald, which is Zimbabwe’s second largest circulating daily paper
after The Daily News, published a correction in its issue of yesterday but
tucked it on page two, a move which riled Tsvangirai’s lawyers.

      During cross-examination by Patel, who is representing the State,
Tsvangirai said his party, the Movement for Democratic Change, had taken
legal action against some misrepresentations by papers in the Zimbabwe
Newspapers (Zimpapers) group.

      The government, which is the majority shareholder of Zimpapers,
exercises tight control on the group’s titles through the Department of
Information in President Robert Mugabe’s office.

      Tsvangirai said: “Since the MDC was formed the State media has
vilified my person and that of my party. Their lack of objectivity has
become legendary.”

      Quizzed by Patel why the MDC was not challenging the articles that
vilified him in court, Tsvangirai responded: “We will be in court on a daily
basis if we challenged everything that is published by The Herald and The
Sunday Mail. The papers have discredited themselves.”

      Tsvangirai is being tried for treason for allegedly plotting to
assassinate President Robert Mugabe in the run-up to the presidential
election in 2002.

      The opposition leader has vehemently denied ever plotting to kill
Zimbabwe’s ageing President.

      MDC’s secretary general Welshman Ncube and Renson Gasela, the party’s
shadow minister for agriculture, who were initially charged together with
Tsvangirai of plotting Mugabe’s murder, were acquitted last year.

      Asked if he was not gullible in committing US$500 000 (Z$412 million)
to Rupert Johnson, who allegedly represented Dickens and Madson, the
Canadian-based consultancy firm the state he hired to eliminate Mugabe,
Tsvangirai said being gullible was not criminal.

      “Johnson was a long time friend of Gasela and payment of money was
done with the approval of the MDC’s secretary general,” Tsvangirai said.

      The MDC leader disputed an assertion by Patel that The Daily News,
South Africa’s Mail and Guardian, The Financial Gazette and Zimbabwe
Independent had similarly taken an oppositional stance to the government
when the MDC emerged in September 1999.

      The trial continues on Monday.

      Staff Reporter

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Daily News


      Whose bidding is Mbeki doing?

      Date:24-Jan, 2004

      ZIMBABWEANS must be wondering: whose bidding is South Africa’s
President Thabo Mbeki doing?

      The South African leader once again told the world that the
politics-induced humanitarian disaster gripping Zimbabwe was set to end
because the ruling ZANU PF and opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) would soon enter negotiations to end the crisis.

      Addressing journalists in front of German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder
earlier this week, Mbeki said: “I’m happy to say that they (ZANU PF and MDC)
have agreed now that they will go into formal negotiations. I’m saying that
I’m quite certain that they will negotiate and reach an agreement.”

      Clearly words that should be cause for celebration by Zimbabweans
across the political divide.

      Except that long-abused Zimbabweans have heard exactly the same words
coming from the same man and all to no avail!

      Last year, when American President George W Bush was cranking up
pressure on President Robert Mugabe and his government over their failure to
uphold human rights, democracy and the rule of law, Mbeki virtually
single-handedly saved the Zimbabwean government from the wrath of the world’
s sole


      Just as he did with Schroeder – who as leader of Europe’s biggest
economy is one of the most influential leaders in the European Union – Mbeki
assuaged Bush’s displeasure with Mugabe by vouching that a negotiated
settlement to Zimbabwe’s crisis would be struck by June this year.

      Spokesmen for both the MDC and ZANU PF dismissed the claims then, as
they did this week. One could easily dismiss these denials by both ZANU PF
and the MDC as mere public posturing by politicians.

      And one could even accept that Mbeki is probably right about his June
prediction, for there are still five months to go before that “deadline” is
reached. If only there was the minutest of evidence on the ground to
indicate a thawing of relations between ZANU PF and the MDC to warrant
speculations that the two protagonists are moving towards dialogue.

      We are sure we speak for many when we say we have not seen such

      Instead of the government moving against the lawless gangs terrorising
opposition supporters, in order to promote tolerance and create a conducive
environment for resumption of dialogue, political violence continues

      In the remote countryside, hidden from the glare of Mbeki and the
international community, innocent Zimbabweans continue to lose life and limb
for daring to support a political party of their choice.

      On the other hand, the economy contines to implode with no solution in

      Inflation, which dropped from 619.5 percent in November to 598.7
percent in December last year, is still unsustainably high.

      Unemployment is on the increase as more companies shut down and
poverty among Zimbabweans is rising in tandem.

      In short, far from Mbeki’s claims that things are moving in the right
direction, Zimbabwe’s political, economic and social crisis is rapidly

      Where Mbeki gets his optimism we do not know. And we have no reason to
question the South African leader’s integrity.

      And we hope and trust, too, that those who have suggested that Mbeki
is not out to protect the ordinary Zimbabwean, but his anti-colonial
struggle comrades occupying the seat of government in Harare, are wrong!

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Daily News

      We must interrogate what our leaders tell us

      Date:24-Jan, 2004

      CHRISTMAS is a great time for meeting family and old friends, so we
all get quite a lot of visitors in the holiday season from the Diaspora.
That’s a fancy Greek word for all our compatriots in Harare North, Unit K
and other foreign places.

      One thing I picked up from some of those visitors this Christmas is
that some of those “foreign” places aren’t as foreign as we thought. We’d
all find ourselves quite at home there.

      George Orwell, author of 1984 and Animal Farm and a wise social
commentator, wrote in the 1930s that you could not throw a stone at random
in the south of England without hitting an Anglican bishop’s daughter. Now,
it seems, you are more likely to hit a Zimbabwean government minister’s son,
daughter or grandchild.

      In some of their universities and similar places of learning, you can
hardly move without bumping into one or two of them, if what I hear is not
exaggerated. (It probably is exaggerated, but only a little).

      When we hear so much about the evils being cooked up for us in those
places, isn’t that a little strange?

      Even stranger, we hear that some of those same offspring of our
devotedly revolutionary chefs have even obtained the hated British passports
that all loyal Zimbabweans were being exhorted, and indeed forced, to
renounce so recently.

      I wonder why they should even think of associating themselves with the
detestable British imperialists?

      Sanctions were imposed on the fond parents who send their offspring to
their despicable country by the obnoxious British government because those
hateful British obviously thought the education and training available on
their cold, wet, foggy and unfriendly little island was beneficial to those
who receive it, and probably better than they would get elsewhere.

      The protests we hear from official mouthpieces about how those
sanctions damage our hard-won independence, our national sovereignty and our
attempts at self-sufficient economic development suggest that those
mouthpieces share this belief, that is, they think the whole country suffers
if their children are prevented from attending universities on that same
foggy, cold, wet and unfriendly little island.

      On the other hand, it is just conceivable that our nobly
self-sacrificing leaders are spending such vast amounts of our scarce
foreign currency to prove their dedication and self-sacrifice by giving
their own offspring a vastly inferior education to that which the children
of the povo struggle for here at home and their hard-working, underpaid
parents struggle to provide.

      After all, look at the most recent efforts to provide a suitable
patriotic education to the children of the impoverished masses – the Border
Gezi national youth training centres. These institutions have been accused
of producing a generation of HIV-infected rapist gangsters, but they are
heterosexual rapist gangsters.

      The unfortunate children of the leaders are being subjected to
indoctrination by Tony Blair’s gay gangsters, if we are to believe the
honourable Professor Jonathan Moyo and even higher authority, and all under
the guise of education.

      And we have it from the same higher authority that there is nothing
worse than being gay.

      Gays, we are reliably informed, are worse than pigs and dogs. But we
know that the Border Gezi centres only produce

      Green Bombers. If they act like dogs, they are not worse than dogs.
They are like trained dogs, obedient to their masters’ commands.

      This is the aim of the training received by such of our youth as have
so far benefited from it. Obedience to their masters is after all the
highest form of patriotism, isn’t it?

      And patriotism is high on the Border Gezi syllabus. Much higher than
the practical productive skills which we hear that they are also taught.

      Given that every parent wants to give the best education they can to
their offspring, letting their own children and grandchildren have an
inferior education would show a degree of dedication to, and self-sacrifice
for the national good that is so superhuman it is almost incredible.

      But it does make sense of the wise planning that obviously lies behind
withdrawing from the white racist-dominated neo-imperialist Commonwealth.
Our wise and benevolent leaders want to reduce the chances that the children
and grandchildren of the povo might win Commonwealth scholarships in order
to be subjected to the corrupting influence of Blair’s gay gangsters.

      It is only by honestly and fairly considering every side of an
argument that you, dear readers, will find the truth. We all acknowledge
that this is necessary, especially when dubious elements try to make the
issue controversial.

      We know who those dubious elements are: the unpatriotic and
anti-revolutionary MDC, who are the local paid puppets of the perfidious
British, through their mouthpieces who dominate the so-called independent

      So balance up the arguments and the probabilities. Is it likely that
our leaders are so venal

      and self-serving that they divert to their own and their families’
private advantage large amounts of the scarce resources we have struggled so
hard to regain control of?

      Isn’t it obvious that such dedicated fighters for our hard-won
independence would only be spending these massive resources in this way for
the national good? Even if the national good puts their own families last in
the queue for the benefits of our hard-won independence?

      Now, don’t ask me whether I really believe all of what I have just
written, but don’t accuse me of not being fair to our noble, dedicated,
self-sacrificing, committed, anti-imperialist,

      revolutionary leaders. To be fair to them, we must look at every
aspect of the argument and try to put their actions and their motives in the
best light.

      Consider all this carefully and come to your own conclusion.

      By Magari Mandebvu. Mandebvu is a Harare-based social commentator.

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The Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe

Monday January 12th  – Sunday January 18th 2004

Weekly update 2004-2









1. Press freedom: Attack…and counter-attack


The Media Monitoring Project congratulates the staff and management of Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe for their courage and fortitude in their long struggle to get their flagship newspaper, The Daily News, back on the streets. Their perseverance in seeking justice in the face of severe and illegal intimidation from government authorities – particularly the police – represents a beacon of hope for all those seeking to defend the ideals of democracy, including the people’s right to freedom of expression and their right to be informed.


The return of The Daily News on January 21st 2004, following the High Court ruling ordering the police to stop interfering with the company’s operations, will restore an important daily alternative source of information sorely missed since its banning in September last year. Assuming the authorities do not shut down the paper again, this development represents a great victory for freedom of choice and an end to the overwhelming domination by the government-controlled media of the news consumer market. The fact that neither ZBC nor The Herald reported the High Court ruling betrays their commitment to selective and biased news coverage.


But while the ANZ’s efforts to obtain justice has been hailed as a victory against repression, MMPZ notes with concern the opening of a new front in the harassment of private media personnel, most recently those working for the Zimbabwe Independent. Barely two days after the release on bail of three journalists from the paper, charged with criminal defamation over a story that President Mugabe had  “commandeered” an Air Zimbabwe plane during his Far East tour, the police summoned the paper’s general manager, Raphael Khumalo, and reporter Itai Dzamara and charged them with the same offence. However, the state later withdrew charges against Khumalo.


ZBC ignored the story. Instead, ZTV (15/01, 6pm) tried to justify the police heavy-handedness by reporting that Air Zimbabwe had taken legal action against the paper for “publishing falsehoods concerning Mugabe’s trip to the Far East using the national airliner.

The Herald (13/01) then published an “Open letter to Iden Wetherell” (the Zimbabwe Independent editor) written by Media and Information Commission chairman Tafataona Mahoso. Mahoso castigated the Zimbabwe Independent for publishing a letter on January 2, which he described as “typical of the worst expressions of racism” because of its equation of Zimbabweans’ docility to that of wildebeests (and not wild beasts as Mahoso claimed in his letter). In his letter, which constituted an attempt to censor the content of the Independent and a threat to all local media, Mahoso stated: “All publishers and editors in Zimbabwe should consider this MIC statement as a warning to them as well and not just to the Zimbabwe Independent”, The Herald (13/01).

Notably, as the Independent pointed out, this statement was omitted in the original letter sent to the paper.


Of greatest concern to MMPZ however, is the undisguised bias Mahoso exposes in selectively attacking the Independent over a debatably racist opinion expressed by one of its readers while remaining silent about the torrent of gratuitously racist and abusive language that regularly floods the columns of the government-controlled Press, particularly from their correspondents, Munyaradzi Huni, Caesar Zvayi and the faceless Nathaniel Manheru. These writers, evidently encouraged by the racist and offensive comments of their Minister and other government officials, specialize in propagating blatant racism and hatred against perceived opponents of ZANU PF on a weekly basis.

Certainly, it is this downright hypocrisy, which clearly exposes MIC as nothing but a government weapon created to silence the private media, particularly now the Independent, which has remained one of the few robust media watchdogs of government excess following the banning of The Daily News.    



2. Financial scandals: Missing Links & Hidden agendas


The dearth of investigative and interpretative skills, especially from journalists in the government-controlled media, seriously compromised the media’s ability to fully explain and measure the depth of the corruption epidemic in the financial services sector, unearthed recently as a result of a stringent new Reserve Bank (RBZ) monetary policy.

Rather, these media found themselves largely bogged down in officialdom. As a result, a spectrum of pertinent issues, with both political and economic connotations, went unreported.  


For example, the circumstances surrounding the controversial detention of businessman and ZANU PF politician Philip Chiyangwa over his alleged involvement in the financial services scam – through his dealings with the collapsed ENG Asset Management – exposed the government-controlled media’s failure to go beyond official pronouncements and court proceedings.

This coverage alone left readers inadequately informed on the true extent of Chiyangwa’s involvement in the scandal, or to the reasons behind the State’s extraordinary determination to keep a senior ZANU PF politician behind bars despite a High Court ruling that he should be granted bail.


Further, the authorities’ attempt to manipulate the ENG scam, particularly President Mugabe and Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi, to revive the ruling ZANU PF’s battered image escaped the analysis of the government-controlled media.

The private media however tried to deal with these issues and unravel the allegations of the politicisation of Chiyangwa’s arrest that had emerged in the courts. For example, the private Press was able to make not only independent investigations into these allegations of politicisation, but also to give fair analysis of the unfolding drama in the financial services sector. However, they also fell short of putting together all the pieces of the political and economic jigsaw puzzle. 



The Missing Links


The government-controlled media’s lack of independent thinking was badly exposed by its preoccupation with events rather than comprehensive analysis of developments engulfing the financial sector. Thus numerous sub-themes that emerged as a result of the financial services saga were not explored.

For example, the government-controlled media did not seem to see the State’s contradiction in its claims that it would enforce the rule of law in dealing with business immorality within the corporate world, on one hand, while on the other it was belittling court rulings through the police.


Certainly, The Herald (12/1) and ZBC (12/01, 8pm) were guilty of this professional incompetence. They merely reported the police’s refusal to release Chiyangwa, after a High Court ruling ordering them to do so, without question.

The Chronicle of the same day missed the story completely and, in fact, misled its readers by reporting that the self-proclaimed champion of black empowerment had been released.


The police’s refusal to release Chiyangwa, in apparent contempt of a High Court order, only found criticism in the private media. For example, SW Radio Africa (14/01) quoted human rights lawyer, Arnold Tsunga, saying, “It clearly compromises the independence, effectiveness and integrity of the justice system as a whole. The police have not only harassed and intimidated the judiciary but are now flagrantly disregarding the courts.”

The Daily Mirror (12&13/1) echoed similar views. The paper (12/1) quoted defence lawyer Lloyd Mhishi as saying the police’s continued detention of the MP was puzzling and tantamount “to contempt of court”.


Defence counsel Advocate Happius Zhou added (The Daily Mirror, 13/1) during Chiyangwa’s application for bail, that the police and state action was “a subversion of justice by the same people who are supposed to respect the laws of this country”.

Zhou’s comments were however reported by The Herald (13/1) too.  

But the paper, including the rest of its stablemates, did not follow-up Zhou’s allegations that the police refusal to obey a High Court ruling ordering Chiyangwa’s release stemmed from the fact that it was being used as “political muscle”.

Said Zhou: “His (Chiyangwa) arrest followed an article in a paper where he was threatened by the acting President and the High Court accepted this.”  Studio 7 (13/01) also quoted Zhou making similar remarks.


Instead, the government media underplayed the political undercurrents of the issue by depicting government as being serious in fighting graft. For instance, The Herald (12/1) comment simplistically portrayed Chiyangwa’s arrest as evidence that “There are no sacred cows and no one is above the law”. The paper added that those who were blaming President Mugabe for Zimbabwe's economic crisis were wrong.

As if to quash any doubts over Mugabe’s commitment to cleaning up the financial sector, ZBC (all stations, 13/01, 8pm) quoted Mugabe threatening to “deal” with business people who “were causing cash shortages and price increases and using investors’ money in illegal ways”, adding that “We will not allow lawbreakers and any corrupt character to get away with their illegal way of doing things.”

The Manica Post (16/1) applauded this stance and Chiyangwa’s arrest saying, it goes “to show just how serious the Government is about addressing the economic woes besetting the nation”.


However, the private media were more sceptical.

The Standard (18/1) for example questioned government’s sincerity in dealing with graft considering that “it is this atmosphere of chaos and lawlessness created by President Mugabe and the ruling party in the name of politics that has bred a class of arrogant people who think they can take the law into their own hands while the police…standby and watch…”

The paper also appeared surprised by the sudden arrest of Chiyangwa when in the past the police have always refused to stamp out corruption in high places through the “lame excuse that the crimes were political”.

Asked the paper: “Why this sudden clampdown on corruption as if it has just fallen from hell. Where were the powers that be all along?”


The Financial Gazette (15/1) interviewed several critics who were equally skeptical about the government’s so-called clean-up of the financial sector, saying it could be “window dressing” to spruce up ZANU PF’s image ahead of the country’s parliamentary elections next year.

Studio 7 (15/01) quoted John Makumbe agreeing saying, “There have been cases of this nature before where… the President would allow the police to come down on a selected few individuals… Mugabe is trying to spruce up his image to enable him to start making new friends… he can really treat you like toilet paper, use you and throw you away.”

The same station (12/01) also quoted Legal Resources Foundation director Albert Musarurwa expressing his doubts over government’s commitment to deal with corruption, saying Chiyangwa was merely being used as “a sacrificial lamb.”


Similar sentiments appeared in The Sunday Mirror (18/1), which quoted MDC shadow minister for finance Tapiwa Mashakada as having blamed government for the unfolding situation. Said Mashakada; “We must understand that government interference with the operations of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe in the past could have weakened the RBZ, thereby rendering it ineffective and unable to carry out tight supervision of the financial sector”.

But The Sunday Mail’s comment (18/1) actually credited Mugabe with having triggered the probe into the financial sector, saying he “fired the warning shots … when he attacked what he called “worshippers of money”” at the ZANU PF conference in Masvingo late last year.


Meanwhile, what was also notable about the media’s coverage of the financial sector crisis was their failure to fully expose the central bank’s behind-the-scenes investigations of other financial institutions in its effort to clean up the chaos in the industry.

While the multi-billion ENG fraud case was duly given prominence, including the liabilities it inflicted on First Mutual Life (FML) and Century Discount House (CDH), there has not been much further stock-taking of other enlightening developments on the market.


This lack of information has obviously fuelled speculation about whether the RBZ and the State were not guilty of selective investigation and prosecution.

For instance, besides the announcement of the suspension of FML, Trust Holdings Limited (THL) and Century Holdings Limited (CHL) by the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange because of their involvement in the ENG saga, very little detail has appeared in the Press about their exact crimes, The Herald (14/1).


The broadcast media was equally shoddy in this aspect. For example, ZTV and Radio Zimbabwe (15/01, 7am) merely reported that FML directors “were arrested on corruption charges involving more than $40billion” without elaboration.

Further, while the RBZ was reportedly said to have recommended the dismissal of the top brass at both Trust and Century as conditions for the Central Bank to bail the two banks out of their liquidity crunch, no media seemed to have clearly spelt out the business malpractices these executives were allegedly embroiled in that earned them the boot, The Herald (14/1) and The Financial Gazette (15/1).

Neither would the media gauge the gravity of their financial misdemeanours, and ask why they had escaped prosecution while their ENG counterparts had not.  

Rather, The Sunday Mail continued in its speculative mode, noting “the net is closing in on some top business people and politicians as the Government continues with its clean-up exercise to bring to book all businesses and individuals who were in illegal deals that caused suffering to the people over the past few years”.



Hidden agendas


The government media carefully skirted the political undercurrents surrounding Chiyangwa’s arrest despite claims by defence counsel Happius Zhou that his client was a victim of power struggles within ZANU PF, ZBC (13/1, 8pm), The Herald and Chronicle (14/1).

Only the private media followed up and investigated these allegations.

For instance, Studio 7, The Financial Gazette, The Zimbabwe Independent and The Sunday Mirror all reported alleged divisions within ZANU PF caused by Chiyangwa’s incarceration. The Zimbabwe Independent (16/1), for example, reported that the ruling party was “deeply divided” over the issue. It quoted Mashonaland West politician Leo Mugabe as saying, “We did not think it was fair to have him in prison”, adding he and his colleagues had written to provincial stalwart Nathan Shamuyarira to register their disapproval.


The Sunday Mirror (18/1) reported an unnamed ZANU PF politician as having said the province was planning protests “to express anger over … the politicisation of the Chiyangwa case”. The “politician” added that the province was “concerned with the kind of treatment he [Chiyangwa] has received through those who feel he has stepped on their toes in the past”. This seemed to lend credence to the claims in the Zimbabwe Independent that Chiyangwa had been linked to a document that called for Msika's removal at the ZANU PF conference in Masvingo, and was therefore paying the price.


The government media, on the other hand, avoided the matter. Instead, as exemplified by The Herald, they glossed over the government’s purported success in normalising the political and economic situation in the country. They were therefore awash with stories that glorified the effectiveness of RBZ Governor Gideon Gono’s monetary policy, including the introduction of foreign currency auctions to curb the black market. For example, The Herald (14/1) claimed prices of goods had fallen because of the monetary policy. The paper further praised the RBZ in two comments during the week under review, saying (13/1) it was “taking a more active role in sorting out the problem in the banking sector” and that the auction system was the “right tonic for the economy” (14/1) when the system was just two days old. Using bidding figures during the auction, the paper (16/1) further claimed the Zimbabwean dollar had “firmed”, without realising it was endorsing the black market rate. This was in spite of a report in the Chronicle (12/1) in which critics had warned the RBZ’s approach was “too aggressive for an economy that has gone for long without prudent regulations”.



The MEDIA UPDATE was produced and circulated by the Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe, 15 Duthie Avenue, Alexandra Park, Harare, Tel/fax: 263 4 703702, E-mail:;


Feel free to write to MMPZ. We may not able to respond to everything but we will look at each message.  For previous MMPZ reports, and more information about the Project, please visit our website at

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Mail and Guardian

SA rejects US 'land grab' claim


      24 January 2004 10:30

Agriculture and Land Affairs Minister Thoko Didiza has rejected foreign
media reports that South African farmers are bracing themselves for a wave
of land grabs similar to those in Zimbabwe, SABC radio news reported on

Recently, a New York-based daily reported that much of South Africa's
commercial farmland had been claimed for restitution. The paper contended
that the recent amendment of the Restitution Act was inconsistent with the
spirit of the Constitution.

Didiza -- interviewed by the SABC at Kuruman at the celebration of the
Grootvlakfontein land claims settlement -- said the recent amendment should
not pose any threat to property rights.

She said the Administration of Justice Act had been put in place to ensure
that the restitution process was fair, just and transparent. – Sapa

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