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

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: Can you hear the drums?
Date: 07 July 2001 08:46

Dear family and friends,
Thanks for the overwhelming response to my letter last week and sorry for
my delayed responses - it's been one of those weeks again. As I write this
at 7am on Saturday morning a Marondera farmer and a dozen of his workers
are barricaded into a farm building. There are 60 'war veterans' that have
been keeping them there for over 18 hours demanding the farmer 'give up'
one of the workers. This is the second incident in our area in the last
four days - more details later.
The national stayaway went ahead as planned and the country closed down on
Tuesday and Wednesday. Congress of Trade Union officials said that 85% of
Zimbabweans had heeded their call to stay at home. The government had
declared the strike illegal and on Tuesday afternoon their "spokesman" made
a statement from Harare's deserted streets. Their spokesman was none other
than Mr Grass Hat and his statement can only be described as rabid ranting.
He said that he was recording the names of all the businesses that were
closed and that he was going to "come with a big hammer" and deal with
their owners. He said that all companies that had closed were "arrogant
British" (sic) and that he would take them over and they would be re-opened
and run by the government. The massive South African Trade Union
organisation, COSATU, made a statement in full support of Zimbabwe's
stayaway and the reasons for it and this in itself spoke volumes coming
from such an enormously powerful and much respected organisation - an
organisation that played a vital role in the ending of apartheid in South
Africa. The announcement from Cosatu greatly angered both Mr Grass Hat and
our Minister for Information, Jonathan Moyo. Mr Moyo said that Cosatu was
"un-African" and their support for the suffering of Zimbabweans was
"hollow". Shame on you Mr Moyo, surely you should take a couple of days off
work and do some serious reading of the history books.
Our government has not heeded the calls of Zimbabweans to reduce the price
of fuel and address our economic collapse. Nor has our government done
anything positive about the fast approaching shortage of wheat and maize.
Our Minister of Agriculture continues to say that there will not be a
shortage of food and when the government owned and run Grain Marketing
Board dared to differ this week, the Minister fired the lot of them.Yes,
the Minister of Agriculture fired the entire Board of Directors of the GMB
and installed more politically loyal people who did not waste any time in
making their first official statement. All maize in Zimbabwe can now only
be bought from and sold to the GMB - no one may trade privately in the
staple food of the country. The GMB though has no money to pay farmers for
their maize so this new move will simply speed up the shortages and push up
the prices of food on what will inevitably become a black market. This new
directive on the restricted trade of maize will benefit only weevils and
borer beetles and will not alleviate the growing hunger in people's
The reactions of our government to the groundswell of dis-satisfaction,
unemployment and hunger are criminal. This weeks Zimbabwe Independent
newspaper reported that Mr Grass Hat, the self proclaimed commander of farm
invasions, had now got approval from government for backdated "allowances"
for 'war veterans' occupying farms. Official sources suggest this may
amount to fugures in the region of half a million Zim $ a month. This is
tax payers money and is being paid to men who are committing the most
outrageous offences every day on Zimbabwean farms.
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 these 'war veterans' sang and drummed and pelted the roof of the
house with rocks to try and chase the family out. Can you imagine the sheer
terror of this? Of being barricaded in your own home, of hearing the
tremendous noise of things falling on your roof, of smelling the smoke of
fires right outside your bedroom window, of listening to the cries of your
young children and being able to do absolutely nothing. Can you imagine
your relief when the police do finally arrive and then your despair when
less than five minutes later they leave, saying they can do nothing and
will return sometime tomorrow. This is an abomination and Zimbabweans can
nothing about it. We need help from the thousands of family and friends
around the world who care about Zimbabwe. What can you do? Spread the word,
pass on these stories, make your MP's listen and just tell the world what
is going on. I am convinced that our silence will only lead to more
bloodshed as so many people think that it has stopped, because no one is
telling about the farm invasions that they aren't happening anymore. They
are though and worse than ever. The 'war veterans' on the farms are out of
control and above the law. As I said at the start of this letter, right at
this moment there is another abomination going on a few kilometres from
here. A man who has already been assaulted before and had his face on every
newspaper around the world, is being held hostage on his own farm. There
are more than 60 'war veterans' involved, people who are being inspired by
a man in a grass hat, people who are being paid by our taxes to do what
they are doing. Less than a year ago the man in the grass hat was employed
as a security guard by the Harare municipality, now he wears a 3 piece
suit, dives a brand new Cherokee Jeep and lives in a mansion in an affluent
Harare suburb. To everyone recieving my letter this week all I ask is that
you help spread the word. If you are religious I ask that you pray for the
man who is again under attack. If you are spiritual I ask that you look
into your heart and see the rights and wrongs of Zimbabwe's land invasions.
If you are just a curious reader I ask you to just close your eyes for a
minute. Can you hear the drums, the rocks hitting the roof, the children
crying, can you smell the smoke?
Until next week, I send my love and thanks for the support. cathy.
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From The Independent (UK), 7 July

Mugabe to take over all farms as food runs out

President Robert Mugabe's government yesterday signalled its desire to nationalise all commercial farmland in Zimbabwe, targeting a further 529 properties for peasant resettlement, but admitted for the first time that the country is running out of food. The Finance Minister, Simba Makoni, said Zimbabwe would need foreign aid to feed its 12 million people, a week after warnings of maize and wheat shortages from American analysts were rejected by another minister.

In the past few weeks, the government has listed 2,500 mainly white-owned farms for resettlement, bringing the total number of earmarked properties to 5,500. It has repented on a small number, including eight belonging to the powerful South African Oppenheimer family. Tim Henwood, president of the Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU), said it was unclear what the government's objective was. "The government is sending conflicting signals. We are still analysing the new list but as far as we can tell pretty much everything has now been listed."

Mr Makoni said: "Our budget does not allow for food purchases. The government has had contacts with key members of the international community to indicate that we will be short." Zimbabwe has descended into a crisis after adapting badly to free-market reforms of recent years and 77-year-old President Mugabe's bid to deliver land to most of the country's black peasants. There is little evidence of the 104,000 families the ruling Zanu PF claims to have settled on 3.5 million hectares (8.6 million acres). Instead there has been widespread violence in the cities.

From The Daily Telegraph (UK), 7 July

Food plea by Mugabe critics

Johannesburg - Food aid for Zimbabwe should be channelled through international humanitarian agencies rather than the government, the country's opposition said yesterday. It made its appeal after President Mugabe's government finally admitted shortages. Aid should not be entrusted to the government because it would be used for political purposes, the Movement for Democratic Change said. It said Mr Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party had repeatedly claimed that it was providing resources that had in fact come from external sources.

Zimbabwe has consistently denied that there is a shortage of food, despite considerable damage caused to agricultural production by the forced occupation of white-owned farms. The first admission was made by Simba Makoni, the Finance Minister, who said there would be a serious shortfall of about 600,000 tons of maize this year. Normally Zimbabwe is self-sufficient in basic foodstuffs. He said: "That there will be shortages in national food production is confirmed. The uncertainty is the magnitude."

Mr Makoni was confident that in spite of Zimbabwe's recent diplomatic differences of opinion with other countries caused by the illegal farm seizures, humanitarian concerns would lead to generous international support. He said: "Notwithstanding the factors influencing our relations with other countries, when human lives are involved I would hope that we can find common cause to mitigate it. I am very concerned - so are other leaders - because our budget has not provided for food imports." Agriculture officials said that almost all the country's 6,000 white-owned farms had now been listed for nationalisation. The nationalisation of farms has caused great damage to the economy, as the white-owned farms are among the most successful. In almost all cases, their efficiency has tended to fall away after the takeovers.

From The Zimbabwe Independent, 6 July

Zanu PF intensifies terror campaign

Mashonaland Central governor Elliot Manyika’s terror campaign has intensified in Bindura with the ruling party setting up bases throughout the constituency in an effort to eliminate opposition before the July 21/22 by-election to fill the post left vacant by the late Border Gezi. Reports reaching the Zimbabwe Independent say Zanu PF has set up bases at Kitsiyatota, Chiveso, Murembe, Mupandira, Maizeland Farm, Foothill Farm and Nyawa business centre. These are used as torture centres for captured opposition supporters. The bases also house war veterans and youths who use them as launching pads for raids on opposition supporters.

Even the police are not allowed to enter the bases, the reports say. Thirteen people reported missing are believed to have been captured and are being held hostage at the various bases. Speaking to the Independent, some of the victims said the level of violence in Bindura is increasing every day. Visiting shopping areas has become dangerous because one can be attacked at any time. On Thursday last week, war veterans and Zanu PF youths attacked Uronga Primary School and severely beat up six teachers including the headmaster, forcing the school to close for three days.

On the same day, Tadius Motsi Hongoro (62), a Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) village chairman for Chiveso was attacked by more than 15 youths at his home. "They attacked me together with my wife, demanding that we surrender our party cards and T-shirts. They also accused me of possessing arms of war," Hongoro said. "They beat me under the feet with baton sticks and planks - which had protruding sharp nails - and all over the body until I became unconscious," said Hongoro who was in great pain but recovering at Parirenyatwa Hospital.

Hongoro said he had deserted his home in fear of his life. "My property and livestock have no-one to look after them because of Manyika’s terror. But let me assure you that beating me will not change my political stance. People will not accept anyone who beats them, they can only pretend as if they will rally behind you when you are present," he said. "For your own information, there are no more Zanu PF supporters in Bindura. Many have defected but they will not publicly say it for fear of the terror. The only Zanu PF supporters left are the squatters on the neighbouring farms," Hongoro said.

On Sunday an MDC national youth executive member Philip Mabika (26) was attacked at his home soon after arriving from a rally. "They came in two twin-cab trucks and attacked me using broken bottles to cut my hands and baton sticks to assault me all over," Mabika said, showing his heavily-bandaged hands which needed 14 stitches at Chachivile Clinic. "They wanted to take me to Kitsiyatota base but I managed to escape, jumping several walls until I get to Chiwaridzo police post. The policeman on duty had to cock his gun to prevent them from overrunning the post to get me," he said. The gangs which are going around terrorising people are reportedly being led by Itai Dick Mafios who is vice-chairman of Pfura Rural District Council, and Jack Salim, a hardened criminal in the area who has 14 pending cases of assault and robbery and is on the police wanted list.

From ZWNEWS, 6 July

MDC Treasurer arrested

In the second incident in a renewed round of police harassment, the MDC Provincial offices in Bulawayo were raided on Friday morning. The MDC offices in Harare were raided on Thursday by riot police "looking for hostages". Led by Detective Assistant Inspector Matira - notorious in Bulawayo as being a "political policeman" - the police arrested Fletcher Dhulini Ncube, the MDC Treasurer, on charges of theft, robbery, and grievous bodily harm.

The charges apparently stem back to the incidents in May in which an MDC MP, Abedenico Bhebe, and an MDC candidate in a district council election, Joel Sithole, were the subject of abductions and murder attempts. These two incidents had brought about heightened tension in the Nkayi area, and on 11 June, ten MDC supporters were also abducted by war veterans. The abduction of the group was reported to the police, who refused to respond, although the whereabouts of the men and their kidnappers was known. On 13 June, a group of MDC supporters went to rescue this group, travelling in a ten-ton truck belonging to the MDC. In the course of the rescue, several war veterans were beaten up. It is thought that Ncube was arrested because the truck is registered in his name, as MDC Treasurer.

Bulawayo MP David Coltart, who was at the Provincial offices when the raid took place, said : "Once again, the law is being selectively applied. The MDC Treasurer is arrested, but the abductors of the ten, and of Abedenico Bhebe and Joel Sithole, walk free. The kidnappers of Patrick Nabanyama – who went missing over a year ago – have also not been brought to trial." Coltart was also threatened with arrest. The police took the truck, and Ncube was later released without the charges being pressed further. It is thought that the confiscation of the truck may also have been due to plans for it to be used in the Memorial march and prayer service for Patrick Nabanyama to be held in Bulawayo on Saturday 7 July.

From The Daily News, 6 July

Nkomos seek to stop serialisation of father's book

Two government-owned daily newspapers, The Herald and The Chronicle, face legal action for breach of copyright over their decision to serialise the late Vice-President Dr Joshua Nkomo's autobiography, The Story of My Life, without authorisation by the estate of the author or the book's publisher. The serialisation in the two newspapers is likely to be discontinued immediately, if a court injunction to this effect is successful. Kantor and Immerman, a Harare law firm, has been instructed by Dr Nkomo's family to approach The Herald over its "unauthorised" serialisation of the book. The family wants The Herald to stop publishing the book unlawfully and to respect the protection of their rights. Addington Bexley Chinake, of Kantor and Immerman, who is handling the case, declined to comment when contacted yesterday. But Thandiwe Nkomo, Dr Nkomo's daughter, said: "We were never consulted on the whole thing. Neither has the British publisher of the book, Methuen Publishing. The copyright belongs to the family and we are working on the rights to publish the book."

Sales of the book were likely to be affected seriously if the newspapers continued to serialise the book. She said the family would not have been too worried if only excerpts were published, but serialising the whole book was a totally different matter. Readers would have no reason to buy the book when it is published locally. Peter Tummons, the managing director of Methuen Publishing, said yesterday he had asked Pikirayi Deketeke, the Editor of The Herald, on whose authority his paper was serialising The Story of My Life. Contacted for comment yesterday, Deketeke promised to return the call. However, by the time of going to print he had not done so.

Three companies are vying for the rights to publish The Story of My Life locally. They are Usiba Publishers, represented by Bulawayo-based playwright Felix Moyo, Dr Ibbo Mandaza's Sapes Books, and Kingstons, the book and magazine distributors. Kantor and Immerman made an effort to prevent The Daily News from publishing a chunk of text from the book, which was omitted by The Chronicle on Saturday. "We would have obliged," Geoffrey Nyarota, the Editor-in-Chief of The Daily News, said last night, "but by the time the request reached us, the page carrying the omitted words, which formed part of an early printing section had already been printed. It was too late, unfortunately."

From News24 (SA), 6 July

Zanu-PF leadership split?

Harare - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's unexpected restraint during a national strike has fuelled speculation that his government is divided on how to deal with its political opponents, analysts said on Thursday. They say the ruling Zanu-PF party leadership is split between partisans of the "fist and knobkerrie" tactics used in parliamentary elections last year, and others who back a softer strategy to ease growing diplomatic pressure on Harare ahead of a presidential vote next year. Riot police were deployed to maintain law and order on Tuesday and Wednesday during a strike called by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) to protest against soaring fuel prices. The government had declared the strike illegal and a challenge to its authority, but police did not crackdown on strikers as they have done in previous labour actions. "I don't think Mugabe's slight restraint is a case of a new political conviction. I think what we saw here was a new crisis over a campaign strategy for the presidential elections," said political analyst Masipula Sithole.

Sithole said the party leadership was split between the hawks who favour last year's violent campaign on the opposition, and doves who believe the party "will not win by wielding the stick and using the fist and knobkerrie". The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) blamed last year's election violence on Zanu-PF militants, led by veterans of the liberation war against white-ruled Rhodesia. Zanu-PF barely defeated the MDC last year and Mugabe faces a stiff challenge in 2002 from its leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who is a former trade unionist.

Chenjerai Hove, a leading political commentator, said a change of strategy in Zanu-PF would take time to implement. "I don't think they know exactly what to do at this stage. There are two major groups in the party with very strong beliefs, one advocating violence and another saying violence is proving counter-productive," he said. With the government refusing to reverse the nearly 70 percent hike in fuel prices, the ZCTU is under pressure from some of its members to continue the strike. The labour group said more than 80 percent of the country's businesses and factories were closed during the strike, and 95 percent of the country's 1.2 million workers stayed home.

"The ZCTU must be happy that it demonstrated its power...and support, and to have scored a big psychological blow for its allies," Sithole said. The ZCTU has organised a number of strikes over pay, taxes and higher food prices in the past four years, and enjoys the support of most of Zimbabwe's workers. In May, self-styled war veterans marched through here to accuse labour unions of sacrificing workers' jobs and backing opposition to Mugabe. At the time analysts said the veterans' strategy, which included attacks on businesses with unionised employees, was aimed at winning workers' votes ahead of the presidential poll.

Zimbabwe's state-owned Herald newspaper on Thursday urged the ZCTU to talk to the government about its grievances, saying the labour movement had a role to play in resolving the country's problems. "The work of good trade unionists is not to barricade themselves in offices and issue ultimatums," the newspaper said in an editorial. Matombo said he was open to talks with the government, but he added: "The government sees us as a rival and probably has no answers for the bread-and-butter issues we are raising". The fuel price hikes have forced bus and taxi fares higher at a time when Zimbabweans are facing record high unemployment levels and eroding wages. Zimbabwe's economy, once among the strongest in southern Africa, is struggling through its worst crisis since independence from Britain in 1980. A controversial government programme to seize white-owned farms for black resettlement has scared away foreign investment and prompted Western nations to suspend aid.

Transcript from Minnesota Public Radio, July 3

Show: MarketPlace

David Brancaccio, anchor:

This is Marketplace. I'm David Brancaccio.

We've seen some pretty steep price increases for gasoline in the US during the past year. But in Zimbabwe in Southern Africa, price hikes imposed by the government three weeks ago have sent gas costs soaring 70 percent, and residents there say it is inflating prices of basic food supplies like bread and sugar. Today shops, banks, post offices and factories shut down in Harare, Zimbabwe's largest city, as workers there joined a two-day national strike to protest the spiralling prices. Amy Costello reports on how families there are struggling to make ends meet.

Amy Costello reporting: For a major grocery store in the middle of Harare, it's pretty quiet. As you walk through the aisles, you don't see customers filling shopping carts. Most are like Helen. She has her arms linked through a small basket. In it, there's a loaf of bread, cooking oil and some eggs. Compared to most of the shoppers here, her basket looks full.

Helen (Harare Resident): It's very, very difficult.

Costello: Mm-hmm.

Helen: This is too much.

Costello: Helen is complaining about the margarine she wants to buy. It's gone up about 20 Zimbabwe dollars. That's a 20 percent increase from last week. And her bread...

Helen: It was 25. It's now 30, 31, 33.

Costello: It's the same story everywhere in Zimbabwe. Inflation is running at 70 percent. Every day rising prices are forcing more Zimbabweans into utter destitution. Just to get a bus ride into Harare, residents are forking over almost twice as much as they did last month. More and more, people are getting up before sunrise and walking to work instead. Brian Raftopolous is with the Zimbabwe Institute of Development Studies. He says urban workers now spend 60 percent to 70 percent of their wages on transportation costs alone. After paying rent and school fees for their children, there's not much money left over for food.

Mr. Brian Raftopolous: There's a lack of predictability about life in Zimbabwe. It's very difficult to plan even from day to day how your family will survive. So there's a real sense that the economy is failing very quickly. And the real danger is that there is seemingly no plan from the government about what it's going to do about this.

Costello: And so people are quickly finding their own ways to survive. You can see their efforts along any major road leading out of Harare. Where trees grew just six months ago there are now stumps. James is one of many selling bundles of wood along the roadside. Some days he makes nothing, on a good day he takes in a little over $1. He's old and stooped over, but he keeps coming out every day because he's hungry.

James: That's why I'm cutting wood, to buy something to eat. I haven't got any - something to eat, I'm not working.

Costello: It's estimated that 60 percent of the country's work force is unemployed. A few months from now, those Zimbabweans who can still afford to buy food may find that there isn't any around. Commercial farmers have cut back their maize production by 48 percent this year, according to Vanessa McKay of the Commercial Farmers Union.

Ms. Vanessa McKay: We were known during the '80s to be the food basket of southern Central Africa. In the past five years, you could say Zimbabwe has become an importer. Because of poor government policies, there's been no incentive for the growers to produce maize.

Costello: That may mean shortages in coming months. Maize is the staple food of Zimbabwe, but many commercial farmers have decided that they just can't risk putting their money and resources into the soil anymore. Two thousand farms have been seized in the name of land redistribution so far, and many farmers fear their property will be next. President Robert Mugabe has supported the violent land seizures carried out by a militant group of presidential loyalists, or so-called war veterans. As the economy goes south and Mugabe's popularity tanks, the president has lashed out with more violence against the electorate, who he says have betrayed him. Again, Brian Raftopolous.

Mr. Raftopolous: The use of violence and force as a political weapon has reached a peak in Zimbabwe in my view, as a kind of diminishing returns on the use of violence now because the anger is so widespread and the increase in the national opposition movement that is continually getting stronger now.

Costello; In Harare, it's difficult to find anyone on the street who says they support the president. They're planning to cast their vote for the opposition, called the Movement for Democratic Change. The MDC is also making inroads into the rural areas, once Mugabe's stronghold. The international community has also come out against the president. Tourism is basically non-existent, exports are down, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have cut Zimbabwe off. Presidential elections are set for early next year, right around the time that the food shortages are expected to hit. Solomon Nkiwane is a professor at the University of Zimbabwe.

Professor Solomon Nkiwane: Hungry people are very, very angry people, especially if they know that this hunger has been due to political manipulations by the government. And come the presidential elections early next year, you can rest assured the hungry people of Zimbabwe are going to vote the present government out.

Costello: What isn't quite clear is whether President Mugabe sees electoral defeat in his future and, if he does, whether he's willing to use more violence in order to hold onto power. For Marketplace, I'm Amy Costello in Harare.

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Mugabe to take over all farms as food runs out

By Alex Duval Smith Africa Correspondent

07 July 2001

President Robert Mugabe's government yesterday signalled its desire to nationalise all commercial farmland in Zimbabwe, targeting a further 529 properties for peasant resettlement, but admitted for the first time that the country is running out of food.

The Finance Minister, Simba Makoni, said Zimbabwe would need foreign aid to feed its 12 million people, a week after warnings of maize and wheat shortages from American analysts were rejected by another minister.

In the past few weeks, the government has listed 2,500 mainly white-owned farms for resettlement, bringing the total number of earmarked properties to 5,500. It has repented on a small number, including eight belonging to the powerful South African Oppenheimer family.

Tim Henwood, president of the Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU), said it was unclear what the government's objective was. "The government is sending conflicting signals. We are still analysing the new list but as far as we can tell pretty much everything has now been listed."

Mr Makoni said: "Our budget does not allow for food purchases. The government has had contacts with key members of the international community to indicate that we will be short." Zimbabwe has descended into a crisis after adapting badly to free-market reforms of recent years and 77-year-old President Mugabe's bid to deliver land to most of the country's black peasants.

There is little evidence of the 104,000 families the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front claims to have settled on 3.5 million hectares (8.6 million acres). Instead there has been widespread violence in the cities.

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Tsvangirai urges West to turn heat on Mugabe

Staff Reporter
7/5/01 7:24:25 PM (GMT +2)

MORGAN Tsvangirai, the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), this week stepped up his diplomatic mission to get the West more involved in the political crisis in Zimbabwe by urging the international community to exert extra pressure on the government of President Robert Mugabe.

Tsvangirai, who is touring some European capitals and cities to drum up support for his crusade to get the Mugabe government accountable to the people and for a free and fair presidential poll next year, said the world was beginning to realise that only a forthright approach could help Zimbabwe out of its political and economic crisis.

"We have been simply and candidly urging the international community to work with other African countries like South Africa and Nigeria in a coordinated approach to solve the crisis in Zimbabwe," Tsvangirai told the Financial Gazette in a wide ranging telephone interview from London.

"From the feedback we are getting, the international community now wants to take a forthright and decisive approach in dealing with Zimbabwe’s crisis," he added.

While in London on his way back to Harare after almost a month in the US, Tsvangirai held an introductory meeting with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in which the two discussed Zimbabwe.

Tsvangirai became the first Zimbabwean politician to hold a meeting with Straw, who replaced Robin Cook in a Cabinet reshuffle announced by British Prime Minister Tony Blair last month.

"It was a cordial and very fruitful and progressive meeting. Straw is well briefed about the situation in Zimbabwe and what needs to be done," Tsvangirai said.

The two discussed the need for a free and fair presidential election to be held in Zimbabwe next year, among other issues.

Yesterday Tsvangirai was due to have talks in Strasbourg, France, with high-ranking European Union (EU) commissioners Poul Nielsen responsible for development and humanitarian aid, Christopher Patten (external relations) and Neil Kinnock, vice president for administrative reform.

The EU has given the Zimbabwe government a 60-day ultimatum to address a range of governance issues, including ending political violence and farm invasions, embracing Press freedom and the respect of human rights and respecting court rulings.

The EU has threatened it might impose punitive sanctions against Harare if its demands are not met.

Tsvangirai, who was on attachment to the prestigious Kennedy School of Governance in the United States on an executive programme for leaders from developing countries, said the George Bush administration had already taken a clear position on Zimbabwe.

"The US administration is very clear on its position in Zimbabwe and they are ready to move," he said.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell has already openly told Mugabe to stop using "totalitarian methods" to cling to power.

Walter Kansteiner, the newly appointed US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, last week ruled out a resumption of normal relations with Zimbabwe unless the government stops violence and re-establishes the rule of law, in suspension since last year.

"Our message to President Robert 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 the intimidation are ended and the rule of law is restored," Kansteiner told a Senate hearing on Zimbabwe.

Other notable panelists who testified on Zimbabwe to the Senate sub-committee on Africa, headed by Senator Russell Feingold, were Professor Robert Rotberg of the World Peace Foundation at Harvard University; Yves Sekerobi, the Africa director of the Committee to Protect Journalists; and John Predergast, a consultant for the International Crisis Group.

While in the US, Tsvangirai held meetings with Richard Armitage, the US deputy secretary of state, Kansteiner and assistant secretary for democracy, rights and labour, Lorne Craner, Feingold and some officials of the US Senate foreign relations committee.

Feingold is one of the co-sponsors of the proposed Zimbabwe Democracy Bill which, if passed, will bar US aid to the Zimbabwe government and ban US visits by top officials in the government who are sponsoring and promoting lawlessness.

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Mugabe wins trial of wits

Zimbabwe's autocratic ruler is unlikely to meet Milosevic's fate, as the opposition groups flounder

Special report: Zimbabwe

Chris McGreal in Johannesburg
Saturday July 7, 2001
The Guardian

Robert Mugabe's opponents longingly eye the pictures of Slobodan Milosevic incarcerated at the Hague.

Here is a man who just a year ago was as powerful as their own president, and even more feared. If he could be deposed and called to account for his crimes then Mr Mugabe's days must be numbered, they argue.

But ask them how that might come about and you may be left with the impression that it has nothing to do with them.

The Movement for Democratic Change, which a year ago predicted the Zimbabwe president's imminent demise after it won almost half the vote in parliamentary elections, now says it is waiting for "the people" to lead the way.

But those of the people who want rid of Mr Mugabe, appear increasingly frustrated and bewildered at the lack of a strategy to unseat the ruler of more than two decades.

It is not as if there is a shortage of reasons to confront the government. Prices are spiralling, the economy is contracting and jobs are disappearing even faster than the emigrants are leaving.

The government has almost no foreign currency, even for essential imports, and a food crisis looms, thanks to the disruption caused by the occupation of white-owned farms by the "war veterans".

The finance minister, Simba Makoni, this week said the government has begun asking for foreign food aid. "I hope, notwithstanding factors influencing our relations with international donors, where human lives are affected we can find common cause," he pleaded.

The UN food agency says the land seizures will leave Zimbabwe short of 600,000 tonnes of wheat and maize in the next six months. Yet the opposition is less certain how to confront Mr Mugabe than ever.

It has abandoned any immediate prospect of calling street protests for fear of bloodshed after the military and security police warned that any demonstrations would lead to a bloody crackdown, a state of emergency and the detention of opposition leaders.

Instead, the MDC hopes to ride a wave of spontaneous public revolt. But if, when and how that will come is unclear.

Food shortages would probably galvanise public anger into action, as would a complete collapse of the economy. And then there is the presi dential election, due within the year, which Mr Mugabe may well have a hard time winning without fraud or massive intimidation.

This week's two-day general strike was indicative of just how far Mr Mugabe has outmanoeuvred his opponents.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trades Unions (ZCTU) ostensibly called the strike in protest at a 70% rise in the petrol price, but there was little doubt that the strike was a protest against all the shortcomings of Mr Mugabe's rule.

The MDC was notable by its absence from any involvement in the strike - even to the extent of failing to endorse it. That was mainly out of fear. And the ZCTU called on everyone to stay at home, so limiting the impact of protest.

The strike was successful in shutting down the major cities, particularly Harare, where about three-quarters of businesses were closed.

The official press claimed that people turned up for work but were locked out by white employers. That may prove to be another pretext for violent attacks on businesses that fail to support Mr Mugabe.

But the strike achieved very little, other than to register a passive protest against the government. It offered no real challenge to the administration's authority, or pressure on it to change its policies. It merely reminded Mr Mugabe of what he already knows: he is not popular in the cities.

The ZCTU yesterday said it would give the government a last chance to reverse the petrol price rise or it would call a "final onslaught": an indefinite general strike.

But for now, the only persistent challenge to the government is from the opposition press. The Daily News, which was bombed earlier this year, is serialising George Orwell's Animal Farm. The analogy works on several levels.

As a former cabinet minister, Eddison Zvobgo, put it last year, a once glorious revolution has been reduced "to some agrarian racist enterprise".

The more principled members of the government have been sidelined in favour of the sinister servants of Zimbabwe's Napoleon - principally the late war veterans' leader, Chenjerai Hunzvi, and the information minister, Jonathan Moyo.

Animal Farm is also close to the reality on the white-owned land occupied by the "war veterans". Farm workers were promised a better life and their own land, but have often found that they have less to eat and more violent masters.

Whatever happens to Mr Mugabe, there will be no international trial for him. But some of his domestic opponents would like him to face a Zimbabwean court on charges of human rights atrocities, corruption and abuse of power. It is yet another incentive for him to hang on to power.

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