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

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Mugabe threatens whites
Harare - Zimbabwe's beleagured President Robert Mugabe has unleashed a torrent of invective against the country's white farmers and whites in general, accusing them of "hostile acts" against the government, and hinting that they would be forced to leave the country.
Quoted in Saturday's state-controlled daily Herald newspaper, he also attacked the series of 37 court challenges to his ruling ZANU(PF) party's victories in parliamentary elections last year on the grounds they were won through violence and fraud.
"Perhaps it is time we moved on, motivated by the desire to develop democracy for our people, not for the overseas audience," he hinted darkly.
His remarks were made at a ruling party central committee meeting in Harare on Thursday. Only representatives of the state media are permitted to the openings of the party meetings. He accused whites of being "supremacist, arrogant and exclusive.
In time, he warned, the white community should "either in reality become a part of us or part of someone else who is not here, in which case they have to join that someone."
Whites had "never accepted defeat" after independence from white minority Rhodesian rule in 1980. Whites were "a community which discountenances the development of a just society predicated on principles of equality and fairness, but would rather there was a continuation of Rhodesian socio-economic system," he said.
"They continue to nurture and pledge membership to the Rhodesian lobby across the world, which they use to undermine our sovereignty and to organise other hostile acts against the black majority."
Whites had also enlisted. "Liberals like (South African opposition leader) Tony Leon and (British Labour minister) Peter Hain who imagine that they run a super-continental colonial government, allowing them to superintend over sovereign African states, taunting and belittling African leaders everywhere."
At the ruling party's congress in December last year, he urged supporters to "strike fear into the heart of the white man, the real enemy."
Mugabe also dismissed a bid last month by the Commercial Farmers' Union to resolve the land issue with an offer of 1 million ha to resettle blacks as well as several million dollars of finance to support the resettlement programme.
He accused white farmers of "attacking" lawless ruling party militias occupying white farms, and claimed they were "even using their control (of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change). to mount attacks on land occupiers.
"Some of these farmers are even attacking our planning teams sent to demarcate acquired properties. "Yet the CFU claims it now wants to play a constructive and supportive role on land reforms," he said.
"Such duplicity will not work and only serves to harden our resolve to see through the programme." On Friday the government listed 2 030 farms for confiscation, and the CFU said that 95 percent of the union's 4 500 members were now listed.
The area earmarked for seizure covers over 7.5 million ha, well beyond the 5 million ha the government declared in 1999 in its official resettlement programme it would seize for resettlement.
The 77-year-old dictator's diatribe comes in the wake of reports in the last few weeks of an upsurge of violence and harassment on white owned farms, with squatters barring farmers and their families inside their homes, forcing farm labour out of their homes, destroying economically critical tobacco and wheat crops and wrecking equipment.
A total of 28 farm workers and 8 farmers have been murdered since February when Mugabe launched a campaign of violent invasions of white farms by so-called guerilla war veterans. The supreme courts have three times ruled that the occupations are illegal and ordered authorities to evict the estimated 20,000 squatters, but the instructions have been ignored. - Sapa-DPA
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Statistics don't bleed
Date: 30 June 2001 08:43

Dear family and friends,
Thanks as always for your letters in response to mine last week and for all
the very touching birthday messages for Richie. We had a lovely but very
low key day as flu had overtaken him and I'm delighted to say that he has
decided that 9 year olds do in fact still hug their mums!
I am going to send this weeks letter out in even smaller and more staggered
batches than usual as it seems I have again attracted the attention of what
we call "the sunglasses boys". Its been a very frustrating 7 days of
outgoing mails being bounced back at me, incoming arriving blank and
yesterday the most obvious virus I've ever been sent!  I will not give up
though and I hope 'they' enjoy this one. For me it is more than ever a case
of who is watching who and who is using what they see and hear more
My letter this week is going to be devoted almost entirely to farms as
tomorrow, the 1st of July, is an historic one. Last year in December our
Supreme Court made a ruling which comes into effect on the 1st of July.
Details of it are in the final paragraph in African Tears (excuse me boring
you): "The Supreme Court declares that the rule of law has been
persistently violated in commercial farming areas and that the people in
those areas have suffered discrimination in contravention of the
constitution... the court states that the people in these areas have been
denied the protection of the law and had their rights of assembly and
association infringed. The Court orders that the Minister of Home Affairs
and the Commissioner of Police restore the rule of law in farming areas by
no later than July 1st 2001." So there it is, they have until tomorrow to
restore the rule of law. I think that none of us are under any illusions,
none of us actually think that it is going to happen. It is simply another
ruling from the Highest Court in the country that will be ignored. Everyone
knows it is imminent though and the farmers have been experiencing total
hell this week. Total hell is not an exaggeration. Imagine having 30 odd
'war veterans' literally camped in your garden, sleeping on your veranda,
so close that they can even hear you flushing your toilet. Just imagine - 4
days and nights of it, you can't even go outside your front door. It is an
abomination which is in contravention of every human right known to mankind
and there is a human face on it - there is fear, anger, frustration but
mostly, total despair.
Last night President Mugabe was on TV speaking at his political congress
and he too knows the Supreme Court ruling is imminent. He did not mention
it but he did say that "we" would not give up on the struggle for "our
land" and he reminded us of his newest law - the Protection from Eviction
Bill. President Mugabe did not explain though why he has just given 180
farms in Zimbabwe to foreigners. That's right! The government announced on
Wednesday that 180 foreign owned farms had been de-listed. The owners of
these farms are signiatories to the 'Bilateral Investment Protection
Agreement' and will not now have their farms compulsorily acquired. A
government spokesman said: "This will help us show the world that we do not
break agreements that we would have undertaken to adhere to and that we
respect the rule of law." What can I say, this is an absolute outrage and
leaves the most disgusting taste in my mouth. He will allow foreigners to
retain their farms but not third or fourth generation Zimbabweans. To all
foreigners owning and leasing Zim farms please understand my outrage, this
is not a personal attack on you - it is just complete and utter disgust at
the hypocrisy, at the blatant bribery and black mail - how low our
government has stooped. I pray that all Zim farmers, foreign, local, black
and white stand together now and refuse this disgusting outrage.
As to the 'cathy paranoia' I refered to last week about my personal belief
that every single farm in Zimbabwe is to be listed. It seems I may not be
that far from the truth after all. Yesterday's newspaper listed  2030
properties, some were repeat lists but- if I am not mistaken - there were
1020 new farms to be compulsorily acquired. The lists ran to 18 staggering
pages. Add these to the governments admitted number of 3410 already listed
and we are near the end. While these are just numbers, a good friend said
to me this week that 'statistics don't bleed'. How right he is. Imagine
seeing your name in a newspaper, seeing a small notice telling you that the
government is taking your land, your home, your job, your life's work -
just taking it. They might pay you for the house but, very sorry, haven't
got any money to pay you for it right now.
Wow, what a depressing missive. But there is hope, huge hope now and I can
still see that little pin prick of light at the end of the tunnel. The EU
yesterday gave the Zim government 60 days to: end the violence; scrap media
curbs; end farm occupations, and uphold court rulings - or face sanctions
and other measures of EU disapproval. More hopeful though - people have had
enough of being scared, people have had enough of violence and
intimidation. People are beginning to speak out. We face two days of
national stayaways on Monday andTuesday this coming week to protest the 70%
fuel price rise. So the government may throw out the last resident foreign
journalist (David Blair) but I believe we Zimbabweans are ready to pick up
where David leaves off, we are all ready to start speaking out.
Enough for now, until next week, with much love, c
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From the US Department of State, 29 June

Message to Zimbabwe Must Be Consistent and Clear

(Asst. Sec. Kansteiner testifies before Senate)

"Our message to President Mugabe and his government must be consistent and clear: while the United States desires open and friendly relations with Zimbabwe, we cannot have normal relations until the violence and intimidation are ended, and the rule of law is restored."

Walter H. Kansteiner III, the assistant secretary of state for African affairs made that point June 28 in testimony before the Foreign Relations Committee's Subcommittee on African Affairs in the United States Senate. An end to violence and intimidation and the restoration of the rule of law, Kansteiner stressed, are the necessary first steps to get Zimbabwe on the road to economic recovery and political stability.

"We have, from time to time, seen some efforts by the Government of Zimbabwe to improve its image," he told the lawmakers, "but the real test of Zimbabwe's commitment to political openness will come in the months ahead, as Zimbabwe prepares for elections in early 2002."

The coming year, according to Kansteiner, will be pivotal for Zimbabwe's future. The presidential election - if conducted in a free and fair manner -- would, he noted, further Zimbabwe's emergence as a true multiparty democracy, no matter who wins.

"The United States must be clear on this point," he added. "It is up to Zimbabweans themselves to decide who will govern them, and they must be given the opportunity to choose freely. Unfortunately," he noted, "statements by Zanu PF officials that they will never allow another party to take office, the ongoing violence and intimidation, and significant electoral irregularities in previous elections all raise legitimate concerns."

Above everything else, Kansteiner stressed however that "Zimbabwe matters to the United States."

Following is the text of the Kansteiner statement:

Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs

Walter H. Kansteiner, III

U.S. Senate

Committee on Foreign Relations

Subcommittee on African Affairs

"Zimbabwe's Political and Economic Crisis"

June 28, 2001

Thank you for inviting me to testify today on Zimbabwe. I would like to briefly outline what the Administration believes is happening in that country, and why Zimbabwe matters to the United States and the region.

After more than 20 years as Zimbabwe's leader, President Robert Mugabe remains in power. The ruling party and its supporters have put significant pressure on the independent media, the judiciary, elements of civil society, and the political opposition to counter any activities which threaten ZANU-PF's grip on power. The result has been a significant deterioration in Zimbabwe's human rights record, a breakdown in the rule of law, a furthering of Zimbabwe's economic collapse, and a negative impact throughout southern Africa. This intense political pressure not only has effects in Zimbabwe, but all of Zimbabwe's neighbors are experiencing reverberations, as foreign investors stay away from the southern African region.

The blame for the political and economic crisis now confronting Zimbabwe must be laid squarely at the feet of ZANU-PF and President Mugabe. Our message to President Mugabe and his government must be consistent and clear: while the United States desires open and friendly relations with Zimbabwe, we cannot have normal relations until the violence and intimidation are ended, and the rule of law is restored. We believe these are the necessary first steps to get Zimbabwe on the road to economic recovery and political stability. We have, from time to time, seen some efforts by the Government of Zimbabwe to improve its image, but the real test of Zimbabwe's commitment to political openness will come in the months ahead, as Zimbabwe prepares for elections in early 2002.

The current crisis in Zimbabwe has its roots in many areas. Broadly speaking, poor fiscal policies and rampant government spending - including the cost of Zimbabwe's military involvement in the Congo - set the stage for the present economic meltdown. Due in large part to an illegal and chaotic "fast track" land reform program pursued by the government, the agricultural sector has been badly disrupted, and the country's economic woes may be accompanied later this year by a significant food shortage. On the political front, the sudden and dramatic rise less than two years ago of Zimbabwe's first viable opposition party - the Movement for Democratic Change or MDC - threatened the ruling party's previously unassailable grip on power.

The challenge to the Mugabe regime represented by the emergence of the MDC sparked a surge in politically motivated violence and intimidation which began in earnest in early 2000 and continues to the present day. Most of this violence and intimidation is perpetrated by supporters of Zanu PF. The coming year will be pivotal for Zimbabwe's future. The presidential election - if conducted in a free and fair manner - would further Zimbabwe's emergence as a true multiparty democracy, no matter who wins. The United States must be clear on this point: it is up to Zimbabweans themselves to decide who will govern them, and they must be given the opportunity to choose freely. Unfortunately, statements by Zanu PF officials that they will never allow another party to take office, the ongoing violence and intimidation, and significant electoral irregularities in previous elections all raise legitimate concerns.

Zimbabwe matters to the United States. Zimbabwe is a country of great potential with a good institutional infrastructure, including a constitution, checks and balances between parliament, judiciary and executive, a competent civil service, and a strong independent media. Under the proper circumstances, Zimbabwe could prove an engine of growth for the region, helping itself and its poorer neighbors confront the HIV/AIDS pandemic, widespread poverty, and other social ills with less foreign assistance. Zimbabwe is blessed with significant natural and human resources, and if effective economic and business plans were permitted to be drawn-up and enacted, Zimbabwe's economy would experience impressive growth. Zimbabwe's continuing decline will witness continuing outflows of people seeking to escape Zimbabwe's economic and political crisis, a continuing decline in investment in the region, and greater instability throughout southern Africa.

The United States must stand ready to assist Zimbabwe when circumstances allow. Together with other donors, there is much we can do once Zimbabwe begins to implement appropriate policies. We can help Zimbabwe resolve its long-standing problem regarding the inequitable distribution of land, a legitimate problem which Zanu PF has, unfortunately, exacerbated for political ends, but an issue which must be addressed, regardless of which political party may hold office.

The United States can encourage renewed engagement with Zimbabwe by international financial institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, helping restore macroeconomic stability and growth in the country. And we can look at our own bilateral assistance programs to determine how best we can help the government and people of Zimbabwe turn their country back from the brink and restore Zimbabwe's promise as a bastion of economic and political stability in Africa.

At this point, however, the ball is very much in President Mugabe's court. I believe it is incumbent upon the Administration to work closely with Congress in efforts to encourage the Zimbabwean government and his party to allow for an open and fair electoral process, permitting the Zimbabwe body politic to determine the country's course.

Thank you.

Comment from a reader/contributor to this forum: "As you may know Walter Kansteiner is the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. He was nominated by President Bush and confirmed unanimously by the US Senate two weeks ago. So he, more than any single person, speaks for the President and Secretary Powell when addressing US policy in Africa. And you can be confident that he will work with the Congress to set things right in Zimbabwe..... (TS Snr) "
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British journo leaves Zim

Harare - The Harare-based correspondent for the British Daily Telegraph left Zimbabwe on Saturday, days after the government refused to renew his work permit.

David Blair, 28, who has been reporting from Zimbabwe since 1999, left Harare for South Africa, where he will continue on to London.

On Tuesday, the government had informed him that it would not renew his work permit, which expires July 16, but that the decision was an administrative matter.

Zimbabwe recently decided to enforce a requirement that foreign journalists apply for accreditation one month in advance of traveling to the country.

The government also said it would not accept applications by foreign correspondents already in the country. The journalists would have to leave Zimbabwe and reapply for accreditation from their own countries.

Previously, foreign journalists were allowed to apply for credentials on their arrival.

Blair is the third foreign journalist forced to leave Zimbabwe this year.

Joseph Winter of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Mercedes Sayagues of South Africa's Mail and Guardian newspaper were expelled in February

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Zim declares strike illegal

Harare - Zimbabwe's labour minister declared a proposed national strike illegal as the nation's largest labour grouping was meeting on Saturday to take a final decision on the stoppage.

"Any worker who participates in the illegal withdrawal of labour because of this planned stayaway should know that he or she is participating in an illegal activity," Labour Minister July Moyo said in the state-run Herald newspaper.

His statement was published as the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) was meeting to take a final decision on a national strike in protest at the government's massive hike in fuel prices.

The ZCTU had given government two weeks to reverse the price hike, which averaged about 70 percent. That deadline expired on Friday.

Although Zimbabwe has suffered chronic fuel shortages for the past 18 months, prices have tripled over the same period and sent fares soaring on the mini-buses used by most urban workers to commute.

Anger over the latest price hikes turned into a riot on June 18 in two outlying townships in Harare, which police used teargas to put down.

The proposed stayaway would be the first major industrial action taken by the ZCTU since its charismatic former leader Morgan Tsvangirai left the group to head the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Militant government supporters have since April tried to tap into MDC's base of support in the labor movement by launching a rival labor federation and staging violent raids on businesses.

Those raids slowed down after an outcry from the international community and after several companies were forced to close. - Sapa

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State cannot halt spirit fuelling discordant voices

6/30/01 9:53:23 AM (GMT +2)

THE TWO-DAY mass stayaway planned by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) could have far wider implications on the political landscape in this country.

The labour movement has asked the government to scrap a recent 70 percent increase in the price of fuel announced nearly two weeks ago because of the potential hardships for workers in the form of higher transport costs and the attendant round of increases in the prices of consumer items.
Although given two weeks in which to reverse the increases, the government has done nothing and has not even bothered to articulate its position on the ZCTU’s ultimatum. Now on Monday and Tuesday the planned job action appears set to take place, unless the government acts over the weekend and averts what could be a crippling industrial action.
The fuse is burning fast and soon there will be a massive explosion. But desperation drives both the government and the labour movement. For the ZCTU its desperation is spurred by a desire to obtain for the workers some respite from hardship.
However, for the government it is desperation of a different sort. It is about the need to re-assert itself in the face of mounting challenges from workers it accuses of being aligned to the opposition.
This is no doubt the government’s thinking and it explains why it has not sought a downward review of the recent fuel price increases. But the ZCTU could be walking into the government’s trap because the government has waited for an occasion to deal decisively with the ZCTU.
The real danger here is that the ZCTU could be lulled into believing that the formation of the Zanu PF-aligned Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions and attempts to project it as a rival of substance have finally removed characters of questionable loyalty from within its midst. It is very wrong. Its enemy is still within.
It is possible that those agitating most for the two-day mass stayaway are the real Trojan Horses within the ZCTU. The strategy could be to pave the way for government to react in the name of restoring law and order in much the same way it responded to the 1998 food riots. Those who bore the brunt most were the ordinary workers, the down-trodden of the earth.
Government is likely to descend hard on the organisers in the name of quashing what it views as an opposition-inspired insurrection. It could be the opportunity the government has been waiting for to declare a state of emergency, suspend Parliament and ban all political activity in the country and the ZCTU itself.
An unfortunate precedent was set this week when King Mswati III of Swaziland abruptly ended the country’s flirtation with attempts at democratic reform.
Such an outcome is possible because the government has neither forgiven nor forgotten its humiliation during the February 2000 referendum on the draft constitution and subsequently in June in the parliamentary election.
The ZCTU cannot guarantee peace during the stayaway. Agents could be deployed to create the appropriate level of destabilisation to warrant intervention by the government.
But it is regrettable that the government has elected to do nothing because it will appear weak in dealing with workers’ demands.
It does not want to create the impression that it has bowed down to pressure, especially from the ZCTU. But refusal to bow down to pressure does not remove the legitimacy of the demand that the recent 70 percent fuel price increase is unsustainable.
And on Wednesday the irony of Zimbabwe’s fuel crisis was highlighted when South Africa announced that because of weaker world crude and product prices, it was reducing the prices of fuel by between 32 and 40 cents a litre from Wednesday next week.
Zimbabwe is sourcing some of its supplies from South Africa yet the petrol prices are in excess of $76 a litre - more than twice the price motorists in South Africa pay.
The government may succeed in quashing any outward manifestations of discontent over the way it is running the country, but it will not extinguish the spirit fuelling the discordant voices.
Once a government refuses to listen to the concerns from its citizens, it loses the legitimacy to represent and govern them. The fault is not with the ZCTU.
It is with the government’s mismanagement of the economy and its self-deception in the belief that it has a monopoly on solutions to the problems facing this country.

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Bennet vows to contest designation of his farm

6/30/01 8:47:07 AM (GMT +2)

Daily News Correspondent, Mutare

THE Member of Parliament for Chimanimani, Roy Bennet, says he will contest the designation of his farm, Charleswood Estate, by the government where it plans to resettle 67 families.

About 30 war veterans and Zanu PF activists have already descended on the 2 800-hectare farm, and have started allocating themselves pieces of land.
“It’s a political ploy. But, I will contest the designation,” said Bennet on Thursday.
He accused Zanu PF officials in the Chimanimani Rural District Council and senior Central Intelligence Organisation officers in the town of plotting to drive him away from his property.
A preliminary notice to compulsorily acquire the farm was gazetted about four weeks ago.
Bennet denied that the coffee farm was not under-utilised.
“My farm does not meet the laid-down criteria for under-utilised farms,” he said.
Bennet said the illegal settlers on his farm arrived in the company of officials from the rural council, a charge denied by Zebedi Dhliwayo, the assistant district administrator for Chimanimani.
He said the group was accompanied by officials from the land resettlement committee made up of local authority officers, Zanu PF officials and the police. A group of 60 war veterans occupied Bennet’s farm last year and took his wife, Heather, hostage temporarily.
Police later evicted the war veterans from the farm

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Govt announces new export incentives

Dumisani Ndlela
FINANCE minister Simba Makoni yesterday unveiled a set of measures to stimulate exports and economic growth but met a sceptical audience which questioned the government’s commitment to a real exchange rate policy.
“We should have the guts to do what should be done openly,” said economist Eric Bloch, charging that an export incentive scheme announced by the government this week was an act of self-deception since it amounted to a “disguised devaluation”.

Cabinet last week rejected Makoni’s proposal for a devaluation which cabinet members viewed as politically damaging.

Makoni, who set the tone for his presentation at a National Economic Consultative Forum (NECF) meeting with a no easy route out of the crisis we are in” admission, said sweeping measures had been proposed in the tourism, mines, energy, lands, agriculture, transport and communications, and finance sectors in an effort to bring back life into the ailing economy, currently experiencing severe foreign currency and fuel shortages.

In a statement that dismissed allegations of covert sabotage attempts in the tobacco industry, Makoni said the government was considering direct trading in foreign currency on the tobacco auction floors and allowing growers to retain a proportion of foreign earnings.

But he could not give a time frame over which that was likely to happen.
“I don’t know when we will complete the work to make tobacco growers direct exporters,” said Makoni.

There has been speculation in the market that the government is working towards bankrupting tobacco farmers, the majority of whom took it to court over its compulsory acquisition of mainly white-owned farms.

While other export sectors like gold miners have been given export packages to make them viable, the tobacco growers have been snubbed in their call for a devaluation and have been left out of the export incentive schemes.

He said the tourism sector had the potential to contribute 6,5% of gross domestic product and earn as much as 11% of total export receipts. It therefore needed to be straightened so that earnings were accounted for and leakages mitigated.

There were proposals to eliminate visa requirements for tourists from key source markets and remove restrictions to allow chartered flights from major tourist countries.

Fuel distribution to the sector would be prioritised, and tourists from new source markets, such as Iran and Malaysia, would be allowed to pay in national currencies and the money would be used to buy fuel from the same countries.

Foreigners will continue to be required to pay hotel bills in foreign currency.
Other measures included providing resources for critical requirements in the mining sector through budgetary and extra-budgetary sources to curtail leakages of gold and other precious minerals, according platinum group metals the same status as gold, and promoting the establishment of a platinum refi- nery.

Major investors in the sector would be allowed to operate offshore accounts to meet specific obligations and operational needs.
“The manufacturing sector is in decline for the fourth consecutive year.
Reversing the current decline in the sector is therefore critical and will require...actions,” said Makoni.

Part of the measures to reverse the manufacturing sector decline include an aggressive marketing of Zimbabwean products in the region and beyond and reviewing the Export Processing Zone threshold to focus incentives on benefits realised from incremental output in exports rather than focusing on absolute percentages.

New export sectors, such as services, would be allowed to operate foreign currency accounts.

To mitigate profiteering, the banking sector would be forced to limit their exchange rate spreads to +/- 0,5% around the official midrate, and limit minimum lending rates to no more than 10% above the deposit rate.

The bank rate would be set at levels that support the interest rate regime prevailing in the market, whilst dissuading banks from resorting to unnecessary central bank accommodation, Makoni said.

He said many foreign currency leakages were believed to emanate from bureaux de change and, accordingly, these would not be allowed to hold cash in excess of US$-100 000 at any one time.

Application fees for new bureaux de change licences would be hiked to $20 000 per licence from the previous $2 000.

Licence renewal fees would also go up from $5 000 to $50 000.
Operational standards at the bureaux would also be introduced, covering record keeping, managerial integrity, technology, reporting requirements and penalties.

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Trudy's Diary

Trudy Steveson
THE eclipse has so outstripped everything else that has happened in the past month that it is hard to come back down to earth. What an amazing experience it was, and how much we all needed that wonderful day, focusing our minds far out into the universe.

For me, the best part was the fun and happiness, the laughter and the sense of being together with everyone else, sharing the spectacle we were so lucky to have right here in Zimbabwe at this time.

A brief moment out of reality — then back to the naïve tourist comments, but more shocking was that ZBC could not get their act together sufficiently to show a single image of the eclipse that evening! I really could hardly believe it, familiar as we all are with their shortcomings in general.

Surely one photographer or cameraman could have got back to the studio from the 100% zone in time for the 8pm news? With a digital camera, they could even have sent something more or less immediately from the nearest telephone line.

But no, it looked like all the cameras stayed in Harare and Bulawayo. They ought to be ashamed of their lack of professionalism, especially on such an internationally interesting event. The new government will have a hard time reversing this national disease and bringing the country into the third millennium.

Parliament is in recess until August 7 (although the official opening ceremony is slated for July 24), but the last week saw the fast-tracking of the Rural Land Occupiers (Protection) Bill and the Citizenship Amendment Bill, both of doubtful constitutionality.

The aim of the Protection Bill is to protect the militia and hangers-on squatting on farms for six months, just long enough to get the presidential election campaign well and truly sewn up, by holding the commercial farms hostage and holding Vietcong-style “re-education programmes”. So laws and the constitutional provision for protection of property rights are non-applicable in this instance — our very own version of “rule of law”!

Likewise the Citizenship Amendment Bill is essentially a ploy to reduce opposition votes in the presidential election, pathetic though its effect will be, with less than 0,5% of the population white (yes, it’s essentially racist, despite all the protest from Jonathan Moyo to the contrary) and therefore likely to be debarred from voting by this Act.

Many will remember Moyo’s analysis of the massive rejection of the president’s draft constitution last year — “The whites came up from South Africa and voted in Harare”.

He has obviously always travelled by air, otherwise he would know they could have voted in Beitbridge, but this spongy logic about whites affecting election results is now well-ingrained on the Zanu PF benches. Certainly no-one in his/her right mind could imagine that any law would create patriotism — and many of our most patriotic citizens are gapping it, capable as they are of performing well in the wider global economy.

The hotly-contested and ill-named Labour Relations Amendment Bill was finally withdrawn until next session after the Parliamentary Legal Committee’s adverse report was not officially withdrawn for obvious reasons.

This Bill seeks (among other things) to ban strikes and other forms of industrial action, and to deregister any union which organises such action, yet the right to withhold one’s labour and the right of freedom of association are both guaranteed in the UN Charter for Human Rights — so once again, government is being both hypocritical and retrogressive.

We won two notable victories for our side of the House in the last two days of the first session of this Fifth Parliament. It is traditional to wind up major motions in the last few days, the motion on the presidential address at the opening of parliament being the most traditional of all.

But first to come was Dr Olivia Muchena, proud academic and former member of the UZ Council. Readers may recall that she moved the second motion to come onto the floor last year, to thank the so-called war vets led by Hunzvi for starting the 3rd Chimurenga, ie that “this House expresses its appreciation to the president and government of Zimbabwe for taking a bold step to implement the Land Reform and Resettlement Programme through a fast-track method by acquiring over 5 million hectares to settle 500 000 people and calls upon this House in to express its gratitude to Zimbabwe freedom fighters for initiating the completion of in the unfinished business of the liberation struggle” etc, etc.

This motion was hotly debated in July/August last year, and then more or less forgotten until the last week, when she set about winding it up.

Unfortunately, despite all her university degrees, she forgot the most basic rule when debating in Parliament — check your numbers! She was clearly outnumbered, and lost the vote on the motion which was the kingpin of the Zanu PF “programme”! Comrade Robert must have been furious, if he ever heard about it, and she was plainly discomfited and jittery afterwards, while our side was jubilant, having openly rejected the entire evil and ill-thought out plan.

The very next day (the last day) her colleague Lazarus Dokora made the very same mistake, only this time the motion was even more sensitive — the presidential address!

That motion in effect is a vote of confidence in the president and government, and is always the first of the session. Dokora made the mistake of provoking an already uptight opposition with racist statements and untruths about rule of law, when we had just an hour before visited the remains of Willias Madzimure’s house in Kambuzuma, so we reacted even more hotly than might otherwise have been the case.

Again, we were clearly in the majority (it was the last day, and we had made a deal with Zanu PF not to block the Bills they wanted to pass, otherwise they would simply have whipped all their members, and we would have lost on numbers anyway). At first, the deputy speaker said “The ‘Ayes’ have it” and we roared in protest. She was obviously nervous. If she declared the “Noes”, she would be seen to be supporting the vote of no confidence in the president and government which our rejection clearly amounted to!

To her credit, she agreed to a division.

The bell rang, Patrick Chinamasa came rushing in and tried to tell us it was impossible to reject the presidential speech motion, etc, etc. Our response was “Chinja!” Next the Zanu PF side refused to line up — until Edna Madzongwe (Deputy Speaker) finally ordered their Chief Whip Joram Gumbo to line up his members. Still we outnumbered them, so the Parliament of Zimbabwe refused to “offer our respectful thanks for the speech which you (president) have been pleased to address to parliament.”

This is virtually unheard of in any parliament, as far as I know — it would be interesting to know whether in fact we made history that day. Certainly we did in our own country!

The next four weeks turned out to be traumatic for ZPF and at least partly euphoric for MDC. Border Gezi had already died and Nkosana Moyo had resigned, but next came Moven Mahachi, also in a vehicle accident, and two weeks later Chenjerai Hitler Hunzvi. Mahachi’s death hit the military particularly hard, but they were at pains to show “business as usual”, especially in the DRC.

Apart from his direct attack on me in the House only last month for being unpatriotic, my most vivid memories of Mahachi are his part in the arrest and torture of Mark Chavunduka and Ray Choto in early 1999, and his daughter’s lavish wedding soon thereafter.

Hunzvi died of “malaria” according to Mugabe and Minister of Health Stamps but in fact it was Aids-related diseases, as was very clear for
anyone with even a modicum of medical knowledge.

The Zimbabwe Independent did an excellent piece of research on his medication and record, and established without any doubt that he was being treated with Aids drugs for TB and other complications.

That it was considered necessary to lie about cause of death shows just how hypocritical the whole Zanu PF system is. How much better it would have been if he, as a doctor, could have come right out and said he was HIV-positive — he might even have salvaged a little honour and sympathy from the general public. As it is, we are simply glad to be rid of one prime mover of all the horrors that have been going on in this “Third Chimurenga”, including the use of his surgery for torture of opposition party members and supporters.

On our side, we continued to celebrate our Masvingo victory and geared ourselves up for the Bulawayo elections when, true to form, Zanu PF tried to cancel them! One election strategy they are using is the McCawber strategy — “Something will turn up!” They truly believe a miracle will save them.

They obviously have high hopes for Bindura — a one-off, the tactic being to pick off one by one by-elections where they have some chance of success (not Bulawayo!) — but in view of the eclipse’s path right across Mashonaland Central, they may find they have miscalculated badly! We also got our share of this year’s political party funding -— $49 million to us and $51 million to Zanu PF, an historical event, since no other party has ever managed to squeeze a cent out of government!

A number of MPs from both sides are also busy taking delivery of their duty-free vehicles. They may have a good financial deal but I am not convinced all will be able to pay off their loans (these are not “free cars to MPs”, by the way!). $19 000 or more per month out of an income of around $30 000 will not be easy to find every month for the next four years.

Attacks and harassment of MPs continue. Abednico Bhebhe of Nkayi was abducted from a petrol station in the growth point by a crowd of militia (his assistant managed to escape), taken to a remote place and very nearly killed. He passed out twice as he was been beaten and assaulted and came round finally to hear them say: “Let’s finish him off”.

He found the superhuman strength adrenalin gives us in such circumstances, managed to stagger to his feet, grab the axe one of them was holding (having axed him on the head, nearly fracturing his skull) and he swung it around, shouting: “OK, you can kill me, because you are many against one, but I will also kill the first one to come at me. So one of you is also going to die. OK, who’s going to be first?”

And amazingly, they all ran away! He then staggered off along a path, still shouting and defying them, until he came to a village where people helped him, despite his bleeding and deranged appearance!

He is extremely lucky to be alive — how many MPs would have reacted as well? This abduction and assault was not well reported in the media: many people are unaware that it happened at all, yet it is arguably the most brutal attack against an MP in this parliament.

In Harare Willias Madzimure’s house was badly damaged and two members of his household injured. This did receive wide media coverage, presumably because it was easier to get to. Meanwhile in Bulawayo Thoko Khupe and Bhbbhe are the latest victims charged under the detested Rhodesian Law and Order (Maintenance) Act for supposedly inciting violence, yet when Mugabe called for people to continue the Third Chimuringa started by Hunzvi, that was considered statesmanlike!

In the constituency, people are itching to get started on the presidential campaign — not realising that the campaign is already under way, in a manner of speaking, for both parties. The candidates have been announced and every action and event is now judged in terms of the presidential election — even the eclipse!

More importantly, it should be recognised by everyone that election monitors should be on the ground and in action already, recording the clampdown on press freedom (a month’s notice for foreign journalists, whoever heard such nonsense!), the increased farm invasions and destruction, the increase in political violence, the corruption rife in fuel procurement and hence transport difficulties for the opposition, the impossibility of accessing an up-to-date voters roll, the lack of voter education, and so on.

Is this environment conducive to a free and fair election? Without the international media or election observers, we ourselves will have to be their eyes and ears, so that the outside world can know what is really happening and judge whether our election is democratic. It was reve-aling to hear the government warning to tourists not to talk to strangers!

Food has not yet become critically short, but all the signs are there, and we are going towards a period of increased industrial action and possi- ble confrontation following the enormous increase in fuel price, which will have downstream effects on the cost of everything.

Makoni and Mugabe appear to have different views on devaluation of the Zimdollar, so we know who will win, at least in the short term. It never ceases to amaze me how our economy keeps staggering on, despite every disaster and disastrous decision, but then I remember what an economist once told me: “No economy ever collapses altogether. Even in Somalia, without any government at all, the economy keeps going.”

One of my constituents in a petrol queue had a different perspective: “You know, in Somalia they don’t have a government, but they do have petrol!”

l Trudy Stevenson is the MP for Harare North.

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SO how many people came to see the eclipse from Zimbabwe at the end of the day? The Zimbabwe Independent called the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority last Thursday and got a figure of 5 000. That compares with 20 000 the Zambia Tourism Board recorded.

Now, predictably, the Herald has doubled the figure for tourist arrivals although it doesn’t tell us where it got the information. The ZTA’s Leslie Gwindi said his organisation was still working on the figures although strangely he was able to quantify the amount visitors spent here — $55 million.

Even if the figure turns out to be 10 000 and not 5 000, that is still only half the number that went to Zambia. Given our superior facilities and infrastructure, the mass defection of potential visitors represents an indictment of Zimbabwe’s government which is evidently not viewed with any confidence.

Despite this damning evidence, the Sunday Mail’s “Under the Surface” column had this to say in response to our front-page story “Zimbabwe eclipsed by Zambia”:

“Zimbabwe’s detractors were totally eclipsed by the response to this natural phenomenon by tourists and eclipse disciples. In the end some of the stridently anti-government local newspapers had to drag (up) old stories to put on the front page in a futile bid to eclipse the eclipse.
But the visitors have fallen in love with Zimbabwe and have made it clear that they want to stay longer than the three-minute total eclipse.”

In fact many of them were forced to stay longer when they were unable to catch their connections because the CAAZ suffered systems failures at the “beautiful” new airport. The check-in desks were one example. There was pandemonium at Harare airport on Friday as passengers battled to catch flights out. The visitors told the Standard exactly what they thought of official Zimbabwean hospitality while the Sunday Mail was busy gushing about how impressed they all were!

Ask visitors at Beitbridge if they were impressed by having to make up their own entry forms because there weren’t any available (one was stuck to the window so everybody could copy the format on any piece of paper that came to hand) and then face closed immigration desks or staff completely unprepared for the influx.

But what surprises us is that on its Page 4 the Sunday Mail used exactly the same figure as we did (5 000) for the number of tourist arrivals, no doubt obtained from the same source — the ZTA.

On the same page, the Sunday Mail carried a story by Phillip Magwaza saying that over 1 000 whites, “including influential MDC founding member Mr Clive Puzey and other sympathisers” had sought police clearance in anticipation of leaving the country to settle in Australia.

What is extraordinary about this story is not Puzey’s intentions but the remarks of police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena.

“He is not the only one,” Bvudzijena is quoted as saying. “We have had numerous requests from whites and other people seeking clearance, which is required internationally. The majority though have been whites.”

So the police are now collaborating with the Sunday Mail to disclose the names of individuals who have applied for police clearance. Is this normal police practice? If so it is extraordinary that the police, who are so reluctant to disclose the names of individuals under investigation in cases of political violence including murder, abduction and torture, or to say what progress has been made in those cases, are only too happy to release the names of people applying for residence elsewhere because it fulfills the racist agenda of the official media.

From Phillip “La Vanhu” Magwaza nothing should surprise us. But from Assistant Commissioner Bvudzijena, disclosing confidential information is about as unprofessional as it gets.

Passengers who we reported last week as stranded at Johannesburg airport for four hours ahead of the eclipse have been making furious calls to us to point out that it was not four hours but 13!

The Air Zimbabwe flight in question was due to leave Johanneburg at 6.30pm and arrive at Harare at 8pm. It eventually left at 4am and after taking passengers to Bulawayo, where Harare passengers were obliged to disembark for immigration and customs clearance, arrived in Harare at 7.30am!

Sorry about that, er, little error!
We are accustomed in this part of the world to furious tirades from government officials (and occasionally editors) when they react to statements they disagree with. There is no sense of proportion. It
is therefore refreshing when sometimes officials adopt a different — and more effective — approach.

The Kenya Tourism Board recently reacted with commendable restraint to comments made by Toronto mayor Mel Lastman who said ahead of a trip to Mombasa to promote Toronto’s bid for the 2008 summer Olympics that he was dreading the visit.

“Why the hell do I want to go to a place like Mombasa?” he said in an unguarded moment. “Snakes just scare the hell out of me. I’m sort of scared about going there, but the wife is really nervous. I just see myself in a pot of boiling water with all these natives dancing around me.”

Needless to say there was some understandably heated responses from Kenyan officials. And Lastman on his trip to East Africa had to do a great deal of diplomatic footwork.

But the Kenya Tourism Board refused to join it. Instead it observed in commendably appropriate terms: “It sounds like Mayor Lastman is in enough ‘hot water’ as it is. Kenya is renowned the world over for its hospitality, so we’re glad he enjoyed his holiday — and the dancing.”

Somebody meanwhile has drawn Muckraker’s attention to Patrick Chinamasa’s tribute to Border Gezi. He said Gezi had a unique ability to fearlessly lead, “like a good shepherd, from the front, the rear or the middle”.

This saw him keeping up “a punishing schedule”, Chinamasa observed.
Most people, especially the MDC, will immediately understand what the minister meant!

Equally maladroit, it appears, is President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda who has been less than flattering about his ministers. Castigating them for slavishly following World Bank and IMF policies, he described his Minister of Finance as “the minister for begging”.

He said his bureaucrats were shunning his “bush economic ideas”. To show how angry he was, he said, he slept during the budget speech.

“I was sleeping most of the time. Sleeping is a safety mechanism. If you don’t sleep you can burst.”

He said he had heard of proposed new electricity tariff hikes through the media and vowed to fight them. He said he hadn’t attended the cabinet meeting that approved them.

“We shall have to go to the bush to fight it. I will never leave buyekera (rebel) activities. I will die a muyekera (rebel).”

Why do Zanu PF so dislike a leader who is clearly a man after their own hearts?

It has been interesting to watch how the official media has tried to spin the proposal by Commonwealth leaders to set up a team to bridge the current impasse between Zimbabwe and Britain.

“International community finally realises need for land distribution”, the Herald told us last Friday.

But haven’t we been repeatedly told by the official press that the international community already accepted Zimbabwe’s claims on the land question? Haven’t we been force-fed a message of unquestioning solidarity by France, Belgium, South Africa, Zambia, Botswana and just about everybody else over the past year? That Britain had been completely isolated on the issue?

So why are we hearing only now that “the international community has finally accepted” the need for land distribution?

In fact of course the government media has been throwing dirt in the public’s eyes for some time. All countries accept the need for land reform, they just don’t accept that it has to be unlawful and violent. You don’t have to be able to read between the lines to gather that. SA Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni this week said “Zimbabwe has caused a lot of difficulties, both politically and economically...”

Mugabe last week amusingly tried to pretend that the latest initiative was an attempt to help the British out of a fix. He has been staring at the sun again. Everywhere else it has been reported as a climb-down by Mugabe who is now facing an international consensus that land reform will have to be approached differently.

The government should stop misleading the public. Sooner or later Zanu PF will have to face up to the fact that it is the one isolated on this issue. Does it really think the UNDP, Britain, South Africa and donors will give Zimbabwe money without first ensuring that it is not wasted, stolen or misused as it was the last time? Time for a reality check.

We were interested to hear that the late Innocent Mugabe, President Mugabe’s nephew, was “doing special tasks in the President’s Office” and was a member of the national taskforce on land. In fact Innocent Mugabe was instrumental in intelligence gathering ahead of farm invasions and is the fourth key supporter the president has recently lost.

In his eulogy, Mugabe, who “went down memory lane”, reminded mourners that the young Innocent wasn’t so innocent: he used to steal maize from the granary and sell it. He also liked his beer, we are told, and “would ensure he asked for it before he left”. He studied for his “O” and “A” levels in the UK.

Mugabe said he had known Innocent “as a small boy when he returned from South Africa where he attained his first degree”.

We rather thought you had to be quite a big boy before obtaining a degree!
Anyway, we should be grateful for this unique presidential insight into what it takes to qualify for the CIO: British or South African-educated, a juvenile delinquent, well-connected, and a liking for beer.

Does Jonathan Moyo actually invite public ridicule? His statement this week that the MDC and its supporters should “desist from compromising the judiciary by making unfounded, irresponsible and malicious political attacks on targeted individual judges” reeks of hypocrisy and double standards.

Does he really think we all have such short memories? Wasn’t it only this year that he and his sidekick Patrick Chinamasa were “targeting” certain judges for removal with an abusive and racist campaign which they only agreed to stop after immense damage had been done to the country’s standing? Why does he foolishly assume that nobody recalls his remarks about the Chief Justice and other Supreme Court justices.

We all also remember statements by Moyo and Chinamasa slamming the MDC for wasting the “valuable” time of Zanu PF MPs who had to devote themselves to preparing for court hearings on electoral petitions instead of serving the people. They were also wasting public resources by bringing the futile petitions, we were told.

Now the MDC has won four of its appeals amidst evidence of fraud and violence by the ruling party, including its most senior members wielding guns and threatening their opponents with death, Zanu PF is appealing those nullifications and is extending its appeals to include the Seke result and the Masvingo mayoral poll.

How come these appeals are not a waste of time and resources? What sort of double standard is this?

Could Moyo’s “concern” about what he calls “malicious attacks on individual judges” be in any way connected to attempts by the government to appoint to the Chief Justice’s post a judge who enjoys little respect among his peers because he has difficulty exercising an independent mind?

Finally, whose money is Moyo using in his civil suits against independent newspapers? Not public money, we hope, because these matters relate to his previous career as an academic in Kenya and therefore should not be a charge on the public purse. Whatever the case, we expect him to disclose in the public interest any legal charges he may incur which are passed on to the taxpayer.

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