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

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      Zimbabwean High-Income Homeowners Get Temporary Demolition Reprieve
      By Tendai Maphosa
      16 July 2005

The Zimbabwean government has announced a temporary halt to the demolition
of unapproved residential structures and informal business premises.

Homeowners in Zimbabwe's high income residential areas have been given 10
days to regularize illegal structures.  That's according to Ignatius Chombo,
the minister of local government.

A report in the state-controlled daily newspaper, The Herald, does not say
how the structures are to be regularized. But it says the suspension of
demolition work is a response to complaints from some homeowners that they
could not find plans for their properties, and that the city council, which
is meant to have copies, is not availing them in time.

Some residents also say, when they bought their houses, they never got any
plans, and that some of the houses are so old, plans do not exist. Harare
City Council says it has records only from 1960 onwards.

The minister also says people operating unlicensed businesses must get them
registered promptly and pay the relevant taxes.

The temporary suspension of the demolitions may provide some respite for
Zimbabweans in up-market areas, but comes too late for the estimated 200,000
poor Zimbabweans made homeless in what the government calls "Operation
Restore Order," launched on May 19.

The government says the exercise is meant to clean up Zimbabwe's urban
areas, and curb black market trade in scarce basic commodities and foreign

The operation has been widely condemned at home and abroad as a gross
violation of human rights. A United Nations special envoy spent 12 days in
the country assessing the humanitarian impact of the crackdown, and is
expected to present a report of her findings in the next few days.

A delegation of South African churchmen also visited the country recently,
and expressed dismay at the conditions under which the homeless are living.
They say they plan to launch a relief campaign to help those made destitute
by the crackdown. The clerics met with South African President Thabo Mbeki
Friday. Mr. Mbeki is reported to have said he would assist their relief

The South African president has, along with other African leaders, resisted
pressure from Western countries to condemn Zimbabwe. Mr. Mbeki says he
awaits the report by the U.N. envoy before commenting.
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Sent: Saturday, July 16, 2005 5:13 PM
Subject: A silence spreading over the land

Dear Family and Friends,
Zimbabwe is shuddering to a stop just 14 weeks after Zanu PF declared they
had won the 2005 parliamentary elections. Chronic shortages of petrol and
diesel have almost shut the country down. There is a silence spreading
over the land and with it is coming a sense of camaraderie and unity as
Zimbabweans literally walk to the end line of these years of madness. I
sit here on a cold but crystal clear winter morning in the silence that
has become suburban Marondera and flip through many hundreds of weekly
letters I have written since this began and wonder if this will be the
last winter of discontent. If I did not see my own words in black and
white I would not believe that such things could have happened or that our
prosperous country and her wonderful people could have endured such

In July 2000, four months after our farm had been invaded by war veterans
and government supporters, I wrote: " Went down to the little dam today
...Once densely enclosed with trees, the surrounds are now sparse and a
cold wind blew through the haven where our cattle used to drink. The dam
wall had been broken and water gushes out... the entire surface area of
the dam is covered with thick, choking, suffocating red Azolla weed.
Floating and bloated in the water is a dead animal ..."

In July 2001 I wrote : "I cannot tell you how I felt this week when a
grandfather phoned me to see if there was anything I could do to help his
son, daughter in law and three grandchildren under 10 years old who had
been barricaded into their farmhouse by two dozen war veterans. Gates had
been smashed down, fires had been lit on the lawn, dogs had been cowed
into submission and through the night the war veterans sang and drummed
and pelted the roof of the house with rocks to try and chase this family

In July 2002 : "I have an 84 year old man living two doors away from me
and he stood at my gate again this week. He calls me his Guardian Angel
and begged that I give him $60 for a loaf of bread. He is white and his
need is as great as the 14 year old black boy who runs alongside my car
when I turn in at the supermarket. He too begs for money to buy a loaf of
bread. If only the men and women in our government would stop their
motorcades, get out of their chauffeur driven limousines and see this
immense tragedy, see the huge suffering of all black, white and brown

In July 2003: "I heard how 200 Kamativi villagers are hiding in the
mountains to escape the violence of the government youth militia who have
hounded them out of their homes accusing them of not supporting Robert
Mugabe's Zanu PF. I can hardly bear to think of how those people are
surviving. It is the middle of winter here and as my son and I cycle to
school every morning wearing coats and gloves and wooly hats, the frost
lies in thick white sheets along the roadside. What sort of government
could knowingly allow their supporters to force people out of their homes
and into the freezing elements..."

In July 2004: "The issue under the spotlight at the moment is the
Government Ministers and high ranking officials who have got, taken or
been given more than one farm... One of the Ministers concerned said the
withdrawal letters were 'preposterous and annoying.' He said of the
multiple farms credited to him, one had been reallocated to his cousin and
another to his mother."

And now, many winters later, in July 2005, I quote the South African
Council Of Churches who have just visited Zimbabwe:  "In God's name, stop
Operation Murambatsvina ...This operation is inhumane and causes
widespread suffering to the people." ..."They [the Zimbabwean government]
have no idea what to do with the people, and this is the sadness of it,"
The Church report estimated the number of people thrown out on the street
to be between 800 000 and one million. Until next week, love cathy
Copyright cathy buckle 16th July 2005
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Mail and Guardian

      Mugabe, friend of South Africa


      16 July 2005 09:26

            President Robert Mugabe on Friday stressed Zimbabwe's solidarity
with South Africa, defying reports of mounting pressure on the South African
government to take a hardline stance towards its crisis-ridden northern

            Speaking at a rally in northern Zimbabwe, Mugabe said his
country is "pleased to continue our solidarity and comradeship" with South

            "We thank all our (Southern African Development Community) SADC
partners and there are 14 of us in SADC who support us on all fronts,
especially South Africa which has stood with us for all this time," Mugabe
said. State television showed him talking to thousands of party supporters.

            "South Africa is part of us and we share ideas with President
Thabo Mbeki almost on a weekly basis," the longtime Zimbabwean leader told
reporters after the rally.

            Mugabe's remarks come amid reports of mounting local and
international pressure on Mbeki's government to take a tougher stance
against Zimbabwe, especially its recently-launched campaign of shack
demolitions that human rights groups say has left at least 300 000 people
homeless in the middle of the southern African winter.

            Mbeki has been criticised for years for failing to speak out
against Mugabe's alleged human rights violations. A visit to Mugabe in
recent days by South African Vice President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka triggered
expectations by Zimbabwe's opposition that South Africa would pursue new

            Since the launch of Operation Restore Order two months ago, riot
police have swept through Zimbabwe's towns and cities demolishing shacks,
backyard cottages and houses.

            Mugabe on Thursday said the programme has been misunderstood,
and should be seen as a "reconstruction" programme that should cause the
homeless to feel "joy" because they will ultimately see legal homes built,
possibly as early as 2010.

            Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai says the
demolitions are an attack on his party's supporters. Earlier this week,
Tsvangirai claimed that South Africa's Mbeki had assured him he would
abandon quiet diplomacy and find "new strategies" to solve Zimbabwe's
deep-seated social, economic and political problems.

            South Africa is seen as key to brokering possible talks to heal
the political rift between Mugabe's ruling Zimbabwe African National
Union --Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) -- and the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) led by Tsvangirai.

            The MDC is challenging more than a dozen results of March
parliamentary elections. The opposition claims it was the third election in
five years to be stolen by Mugabe.

            But Mugabe, who accuses the MDC of being a puppet party of
former colonial power Britain, was adamant Friday that inter-party talks are
far from imminent.

            "There is nothing you can do to them (the MDC) unless they
disengage themselves from Britain," he said.

            Zimbabwe is critically short of foreign currency, fuel and power
as a result of failed government policies. This year it will need to import
1,8-million tonnes of the staple maize to make up for failed harvests,
blamed largely on the dismantling of white-owned large scale farms which
have been occupied by landless Africans. - Sapa-dpa

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SACC to leave for Zimbabwe on Monday

July 16, 2005, 12:30

The South African Council of Churches (SACC) has postponed its follow-up
visit to Zimbabwe to Monday, it said today.

Eddie Makue, the SACC deputy secretary-general, said the postponement was to
allow priests to carry out their weekend duties such as church services and
funerals. "We felt we might be more productive during week days with no such

The delegation was due to leave for Harare at the weekend to establish
relief efforts for the thousands of Zimbabweans left destitute by the
government sponsored 'Operation Restore Order'. The visit follows the
council's two-day fact-finding mission to Harare which ended on July 11.

The pastoral mission reported upon their return that the operation, which
was meant to "clean out" Zimbabwe's slums and informal settlements, had left
close to a million people homeless and living under "inhumane" conditions.

Offer to Zimbabwean counterparts
Makue said the purpose of Monday's visit would be to explore ways of
bringing about relevant relief to Zimbabweans. "The first visit was to gain
information, come back and report back to central committee which makes
decisions. Now we will go back and share the decision with the churches in
Zimbabwe," said Makue.

He said the SACC would make "an offer" to their Zimbabwean counterparts, but
would not "take over" relief efforts.

"Doing so would be wrong because that would disempower people if we take
over," said Makue. "The churches might indicate to us the areas of
resolution that they need for us to engage on alone if they feel we have
more resources."

Dire economic situation
Although the council had collected items such as food and blankets, Makue
said the type of relief they would offer would be "informed by the situation
on the ground". The council was aware of Zimbabwe's dire economic situation
and they wanted to "quantify" it, he said.

Responding to President Thabo Mbeki's assurance yesterday that the South
African government was behind relief efforts by the SACC, Makue said his
assurance was only "in principle" for now.

"Hypothetically speaking, if we had a lot of good that we needed to carry to
Zimbabwe, this means we could use a SA Defence Force helicopter for
instance. We have done that many times before, in Somalia, Angola and
Burundi," said Makue. - Sapa

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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Mass action victims amend charges

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Jul-16

PLAINTIFFS in a case in which the MDC, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
(ZCTU) and Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) stand accused of calling
and supporting a mass action where property worth millions was destroyed in
2003, have amended the charges levelled against the defendants.

The move followed a successful High Court application for exception by
defendants, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and ZCTU secretary general
Wellington Chibebe, who argued through their lawyer Alec Muchadehama, that
the allegations were vague and embarrassing.
The plaintiffs in the matter, public passenger transporter Zupco, David
Bello and Clarisa Muchengeti are maintaining that the defendants had a case
to answer, hence the amendment for clarity.
"The.defendants promoted and or assisted in executing the arrangements for
the holding of the illegal demonstration and therefore are also deemed
organisers. in terms of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA)," argued
the plaintiffs' lawyers Muzangaza, Mandaza and Tomana in High Court papers
filed on June 20 this year.
They maintained that the demonstration was illegal because the police had
given defendants notice prohibiting the mass action under POSA.
The lawyers submitted that defendants were liable, jointly and severally for
the damages.
"The defendants, as organisers of the demonstration, incited and or
encouraged persons taking part in the demonstration to engage in conduct
which amounts to or could have reasonably be accepted to lead to public
disorder and breach of peace resulting in loss or damage to property," the
lawyers said.
They also stressed that the defendants were liable to the plaintiff for the
damages suffered by virtue of the provisions of POSA, in that the organisers
of an illegal gathering "shall be liable for any loss or damage to property
occasioned by any public disorder or breach of peace caused or arising out
of or occurring at the gathering."
 Zupco is alleging that on March 15 2003, the MDC and Tsvangirai called for
a mass action that was encouraged and supported by ZCTU  and ANZ, the
publishers of The Daily News and The Daily News on Sunday, two titles that
have since been shut down by the government for contravening provisions of
the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act by not registering
to operate.
The mass action allegedly resulted in the bombing of Zupco buses by
demonstrators, inflicting losses amounting to millions of dollars on the
public transporter.
Muchengeti is alleging that her Mazda B1800 vehicle was not spared either,
while Bello allegedly suffered $17 million loss after his mini-bus was
petrol bombed by rioting youths.
The defendants are yet to respond to the amendments that seek to implicate
them directly of indirectly.
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Probe into elephant tusks case widens

Court Reporter
issue date :2005-Jul-16

THE two Chinese nationals who were recently arrested on allegations of
possessing 72 elephant tusks will spend yet another seven days behind bars
after the investigating officer told the court that investigations had
spilled beyond Zimbabwe's borders.
The officer, Johannes Mashavavi, yesterday said the investigations were not
yet complete and further charges were likely to be preferred against the two
Asians, Qingling Zhang and Cong Yuling, facing allegations of contravening
the Parks and Wildlife Act and the Fire Arms Act.
"The State is still opposed to bail considering obstacles that we have come
across. There are some extra territorial investigations that have to be
carried out. We still have to wait for a reply from other police officers
who have gone out and we need two more weeks to wind up the investigations,"
Mashavavi said.
The investigating officer said the other police officers would be leaving on
Monday to China and Mozambique where Zhang and Yuling are believed to have
exported some of the raw ivory.
However, the duo's lawyer Josiah Chimherende argued that there was nowhere
in the State outline where his clients were being charged for exporting the
tusks, and as such that could not be used as grounds for opposing bail.
Chimherende said the court could set out stringent conditions to deter the
accused persons from interfering with witnesses and investigations.
Prosecutor Letwin Rwodzi argued that it was premature for Zhang and Yuling
to be granted bail, as they were likely to face further charges.
Magistrate Priscilla Chigumba ruled in favour of the State and remanded the
two to July 22 for consideration of bail
Allegations against the two are that on a date unknown to the prosecutor,
they acquired five unregistered raw ivory tusks, which were recovered by
police at their home in Greendale.
Between March and their arrest on July 4 2005, Zhang and Yuling allegedly
bought 67 tusks from Lovemore Chikosha and Walter Mutsauri without a
They then sealed them in wooden crates and tried to export them, but were
nabbed before doing so.
The pair is also charged with breaking the Fire Arms Act after being found
in possession of two un-licenced guns.
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

MIC castigated for delaying registration of media houses

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Jul-16

THE Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) - Zimbabwe has castigated the
Media and Information Commission (MIC) for delaying the registration of the
suspended weekly - The Tribune - and the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe
(ANZ), publishers of the closed Daily News and The Daily News on Sunday.
The MIC suspended The Tribune's operating licence  for a year last June
alleging that its publisher, Africa Tribune Newspapers (ATN), had not
notified the media regulatory body on changes in its ownership structure.
"MISA-Zimbabwe notes with concern that the reasons given by the MIC to
refuse The Tribune a licence are not only frivolous, but an infringement on
the rights to freedom of expression of the publishers of The Tribune,"
MISA said yesterday in a statement.
This week, MIC chairperson Tafataona Mahoso was quoted saying the regulatory
authority had not re-registered The Tribune because ATN had failed to prove
that they had enough capital to sustain the business and that they wanted to
operate from the publisher Kindness Paradza's home.
MISA also raised concern on the delays in dealing with ANZ's application for
an operating licence, three months after they submitted their papers for
"The ANZ application has been stalled for over three months. While the ANZ
was the first to apply for a licence, the MIC, has however, chosen to deal
with The Tribune application first," MISA said.
MISA also claimed that the operations of MIC in the past three years showed
that the regulatory authority had failed to develop the media especially in
addressing issues of media diversity.
"This bolsters the growing number of voices branding the MIC as a partisan
and unnecessary body whose sole existence is merely to cause suffering and
worsen the plight of Zimbabwe's media
workers and owners at the
expense of the reading public," MISA added.
The ANZ was banned in 2003 after the Supreme Court ruled that it was
operating illegally following the publisher's refusal to register with the
MIC  citing a pending constitutional appeal against provisions of the Access
to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
The Supreme Court ruled
that ANZ had approached the court with "dirty hands" and
concluded that the publishers go back to MIC and seek
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Yorkshire Post

Asylum girl takes fight to Commons
Alexandra Wood
THE fight to prevent a teenager from being deported to crisis-ridden
Zimbabwe is heading to the House of Commons - amid demands she be kept from
the clutches of "tyrant and torturer" Robert Mugabe.
Ashleigh McMaster, 19, faces the threat of being sent back at any time after
losing a long-running legal battle with the Home Office.
For two years she has been living under a cloud of uncertainty, unsure where
her future lies, and desperate to stay with her family in East Yorkshire.
Next week Miss McMaster will head to the House of Commons, with her father
Gary, to lobby ministers, at the invitation of Beverley and Holderness Tory
MP Graham Stuart.
The MP has launched a scathing attack on the asylum system, and is
personally championing her cause.
It comes after the Government suspended removals of failed asylum seekers
until a High Court hearing in August, to test the legality of sending
individuals back.
The failed asylum seekers say they are in danger of being ill-treated and
abused in Zimbabwe, simply because they claimed asylum in the UK.
In the first three months of 2005, 95 Zimbabweans were forcibly removed and
around 100 are currently detained, awaiting possible deportation.
Miss McMaster, who lives in Keyingham, near Hull, came to the UK to join her
father, who is Zimbabwean and whose second wife is British, in 2003 after
the family's farm was confiscated by gangs backed by President Robert
Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF Party. She has been to court numerous times,
eventually winning an appeal after her asylum claim was rejected. But this
was overturned at the High Court in April.
Yesterday she said: "I am very nervous. We are at the top now. This is the
highest we can go. I just want some kind of permanent status."
Mr Stuart is asking residents of Beverley to sign a petition for Ashleigh in
Toll Gavel in the town this morning, which will be submitted to Home Office
Minister Tony McNulty next week.
"I am asking all Beverley residents to help Ashleigh in her fight to stay in
this country," he said. "She is a lovely girl who needs our help and
support. They are a hard-working decent family who contribute to society and
don't ask for anything.
"The government asylum system is a disgrace. They are allowing people with
no claim or right to be here to remain while sending innocent people back to
a tyrant and torturer like Mugabe."
The Home Office said their policy had not changed. But out of "respect and
courtesy" for the two judges who had commented on the issue "we feel it is
appropriate not to enforce the return of failed asylum seekers prior to the
court hearing on August 4 when we hope the issue can be fully resolved."
Effectively in limbo, Miss McMaster does not have a passport, cannot study
and is not allowed to work.
If she returned to Zimbabwe, as she is white and of voting age, she would
automatically be assumed to vote for the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change and could be conscripted into the Army, where there have been
widespread allegations of rape and abuse.

16 July 2005
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Chirundu Project : Second Phase communiqué

On the 24th June 2005, the Zimbabwe Conservation Development Foundation (ZCDF), brought attention to substantiated information of a structured group of farmers, business persons, companies and other independent stakeholders, having moved comprehensively towards launching Stage 1 of a 120,000 hectare agricultural development in the proclaimed Urungwe, Chewore and Sapi Safari Areas and the Mana Pools National Park bordering on the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe.

The ZCDF has subsequently learned that a decision to "stop" the development has been made. What is not clear is whether this decision has been taken for economic reasons, or because of the exposure the project received from the objection released. It is however known, that the term "hot potato" was used by the developers to describe the prominence surrounding the proposed development.

The level of prudence that needs to be applied though, given the added decision by the developers to consign the matter to a senior government executive for attention, is that to protect the interests of the project, the "stop" decision is intended as a smoke screen, or it could have been moved into "suspension" mode rather than a complete stoppage, if at all. Given this, the ZCDF will continue to closely collaborate with information sources to secure insight to any further motives or decisions that may be taken by the developers.

The Chirundu Project, the threats it poses and the multifaceted escalating annihilation of wild and natural assets persé in Zimbabwe, are what the ZCDF exists for in actively engaging and preventing. The organisation subscribes to the need for intense vigilance, research, evaluation and preventive action across all applicable frontiers in its endeavours. The adversaries in this daunting task are lawlessness, greed, bribery, corruption and unsustainably discreditable covenants of conservation and natural resources management.

As the ZCDF assiduously crusades for the protection, propagation and progressive development of the country’s feral resources for benefit to all, bar none, the organisation accepts this cannot be achieved alone. Thus, the ZCDF welcomes input from and through partnerships with those in a pool of resources of excellent experience, qualification and compatible philosophy.

A major hurdle at this time is, the perilous state of wild and natural resource affairs being exacerbated by intensifying complexities that underscore the applicable emergency factors. It could be argued, that resolutions no longer exist in doing things right, but moreover in doing the right things. In the context of this, the ZCDF in close alliance with willing partners will stand firm in actively preventing the Chirundu Project, or any such likened proposal.

Thank you.

The Zimbabwe Conservation and Development Foundation

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Celebrating on the slow train to Maputo...
          July 16 2005 at 01:03PM

      By Sylvia Gill

      Often it's not wise to revisit places where you've had a good time.
It's better just to keep the memory intact. But Maputo today is as magical
as it was on our last visit 35 years ago.

      Jazz musicians, ranging in age from 18 to 65, make fantastic sounds in
the mosaic-tiled rooms of a 100-year-old railway station. The locals drink
beer and vinho verde, clapping and tapping their feet.

      Dark-eyed se-oritas laugh and flirt as they sway to infectious
rhythms. This is not the Buena Vista Social Club in old Havana but Maputo,
over the border down Mozambique way.

      We, the pleasure-seeking passengers on the Shongololo Express, are the
first tourists to find this gem of a place, a pub with no name. It opened
only yesterday and is a safe walk from our hotel on wheels, the refurbished
Rhodesian Railways train that carried the British royal family around
southern Africa in 1947.

      This grand old lady, fitted out in teak, is appropriately berthed for
the weekend in the exquisite semi-deserted floodlit Maputo Railway station,
designed by Frenchman Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, of tower fame.

      Willy-nilly, my mind flashes back 35 years to my first visit to
Mozambique - the days of Lourenço Marques, Portuguese steak sandwiches at
the Polana pool, sharing piri-piri prawns and Laurentina beer with sailors
and their girls in the infamous Penguin dockside club. For conservative
Vaalies, it was like another planet.

      Now here we are, a group of adventurers from all walks of life,
spanning 18 to 80 years of age. A merry group of friends who have dressed
the part get the party going. Their ringleader Alan Louw says, "We've been
doing this every year for 20 years. We decide on a destination, then off we

      Young and old, we're having the time of our lives listening to a
fusion of jazz, Afro-Portuguese and popular music, after an afternoon
touring Maputo, which is an amazing multi-cultural city.

      After years of devastation, there's an upbeat feel to the capital, the
same air .of hope and prosperity that pervades the country in general.

      After falling victim to droughts, floods and wars, it has regained the
old laid-back air and its resilient citizens are taking up where they left
off and mapping out a happier future.

      The forward-looking government appreciates the link between tourism
and the economy.

      South Africans no longer need visas. All the large South African
companies and stores are here, occupying big modern buildings. The old ones
are showing signs of revival against a backdrop of tropical vegetation,
bougainvillea and blue skies.

      The produce market, touted as Africa's oldest commercial market,
hasn't changed: nor have its tropical flavours and fragrances.

      Expect to see heaps of shimmering prawns and silver sardines, baskets
piled high with tomatoes, shiny green peppers and mounds of cashew nuts. We
found carvings, pottery and pictures and they were the real thing, not
tourist tat.

      The city's past is linked to its present by monuments, cathedrals,
historical sites. Forts and statuary are somehow not boring because of the
tropical feel. Bright skies, balmy sea air and exotic sights go well

      The Shongololo Express has a clever concept. British and European
tourists have been doing their southern African train tours for years. Our
train was the Southern Cross.

      Six Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 12-seater buses are on board, pulled along
on flat-bed trailers. So we sleep on the train, wake up in a new place, hop
onto the buses and go sightseeing with our own experienced guides.

      We were on the short Thursday- to-Sunday Maputo trip, but the 16-day
journeys traverse all the neighbouring countries. The train travels mostly
at night, so you could wake up at Victoria Falls, Sossusvlei, Kruger or
Hwange national park, Kariba, Chobe...

      Train travel is incredibly exciting. Most of us hadn't slept on one
for 35 years. Some of the younger people had never ridden on one.

      Right at the start, in Johannesburg, my heart leapt when the train
creaked and jolted forward. Then the clickety-clack, swaying coaches, a
soulful hoot as we stopped at a siding.

      It's almost organic, with a life of its own, particularly at night.
The rumble of the wheels and things that go bump in the night. It's
comforting to be part of this huge benign creature.

      Then there is the activity of lurching along the passage, squeezing
past fellow travellers, laughing, meeting in the lounge or pub for a drink -
all part of the fun. We even had our own brilliant entertainer, Jacques

      We enjoyed superb food in the elegant dining car, produced by our
resident chef Paul Gutu, and Swiss-trained guest chef Phillip Fishpon. It
was a miracle how they created delicious cordon bleu meals for 70 people.

      One of the treats of capsule travel is that no one can get at you. You
have no responsibilities and inhabit your own little world. You can sleep
and read the day away as a never-ending movie show slides by.

      I didn't realise the beauty of the Mozambican bush and countryside.
Rivers, streams, mountains. A bird's-eye view of straggling villages, huts
and small children by the hundreds.

      We drove north from Maputo for a day at the beach. Busy markets and
roadside stalls lined the road for 30km. Here we had a glimpse of the
Mozambiqan entrepreneurs at their busiest and most innovative.

      Freshly baked bread, carved doors, building materials, bright plastic
funeral wreaths. There's a vibe of energy and industry here, but also
heart-rending poverty, beggars, urchins, shoulder-to-shoulder huts and
shacks - a poignant sight, repeated along many of the roads.

      We rode on a cheerful little blue ferryboat along the Nkomati River
towards the sea, the bright sun smiling on green reeds, golden sands and
flocks of waterbirds.

      Time works differently in Mozambique, so our lunch was late. But this
gave us plenty of opportunity to explore the beaches, watch the fishermen,
loll about and swim.

      The whole experience reminded me of Inhaca 35 years ago: few home
comforts - but then we'd have a heavenly day's snorkelling on the tropical
reef or picnic on a deserted island.

      This time round, we sampled traditional restaurants and pubs but also
had a stunning banquet on the lawns of the Holiday Inn - which must be the
most impressive of its kind in the world, with its Mediterranean
architecture, towering palm trees and sea view.

      While this is not The Blue Train or the Palace on Wheels, we'd
recommend the Emerald or Gold cabin: both have private facilities. The Ivory
accommodation is more like a regular train compartment with beds and shared
modernised ablutions.

      The public carriages - lounge, dining room, pub, smokers' carriage -
are all nicely refurbished with elegant décor and another thing about train
travel: wherever you go, you won't have to unpack.

      Train travel and Maputo are everything they used to be only better.

      a.. The Shongololo Express has different excursions to seven countries
on the southern African continent: South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique,
Botswana, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

      For more information, contact: Shongololo Express, phone: 011-781-4616
or fax: 011-781-4794.

      This article was originally published on page 10 of Saturday Star on
July 15, 2005
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